Tie-Dye Shirts Made Easy

If you’ve ever made your own tie-dye shirt, you know that it can be a real mess… especially if you’re using the right chemistry to make really vivid looking shirts. While I’m no tie-dye expert, I learned from three people who used to travel with the Grateful Dead (well, they followed the Dead from gig to gig and sold their tie-dye apparel to the pickiest of Deadheads). The secret to making amazing tie-dye shirts is to use fiber reactive dyes.

The teachers and parents at Wilder Elementary in Littleton, Colorado reward each graduating 5th grader with the opportunity to make their own graduation tie-dye shirt. I joined the kids last week at school to share the science of tie-dye and to help them create a one-of-a-kind shirt.

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Comments (9)

  • mike ufkin Reply

    Watched the video, and this seemed like a nice holiday time activity for the science club at school….so I asked my students to bring in shirts, and took all my old white ones destined for the trash in as freebies.

    I was a total newbie in making tie-dye shirts, as were the vast majority of our students. What we created was fantastic. It was the best thing we’ve done in science club in a couple of years I thought. The kids were really excited with their shirts. Thanks to the video and the site for prompting me to get busy with this! It’s definitely messy, so take precautions for this, and be sure to tell the students to dress accordingly and to have lab aprons.

    January 4, 2009 at 9:23 am
  • james bryant Reply

    I make hand made tie dyes for sale. But, I am always willing to divulge secrets. Just go to the contact page and e-mail me any type of question. I try, sincerely, to answer every e-mail. No one ever helped me…so, I am more than willing to share. Long live tie dye!!! http://www.mytiedyes.com/contact.html

    August 7, 2010 at 8:01 pm
  • Roxanne Reply

    hey i am here to write a report for school on the science of tie dye and why the colors spread out and I can’t find the answer!!!!!!

    August 28, 2010 at 8:07 pm
  • Julie Gintzler Reply

    Hey Roxanne – if you follow this link to the Steve Spangler Science website and scroll down to the section titled “How Does it Work?” you will find your answers.
    Sharpie Science Experiment: http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/experiment/00000032

    August 30, 2010 at 1:49 pm
  • katrina Reply

    Hi! It’s good that your students tried tie dyeing. I know you guys had a good and fun experience.

    April 26, 2011 at 10:21 am
  • Janou Farrell Reply

    Can anyone tell me how many shirts can be washed at a time? I watched the DVD that came with the product and it said that you have to wash shirt several times.Steve made a comment saying that you could do a few at a time… But how many have you tried? and been successful with? My groups this summer will be of about 15 so I don’t want to be washing all day if I can help it 🙂

    May 25, 2011 at 8:24 am
  • Susan Wells Reply

    Janou – You can wash as many shirts as will fit in the washer. You can wash all 15 at once as long as they all fit in your washer. However, if washing fewer shirts at a time will allow the water to get in and really rinse the dye out of each shirt. You want to make sure all of the dye is washed out before washing the shirt with a regular load of laundry. Our team has gone to a laundrymat and washed over 40 shirts at a time in the large washers to quickly wash all of the shirts.

    May 25, 2011 at 12:40 pm
  • laura Reply

    can i just buy the dyes on your site to do my own dying t-shirts.

    April 4, 2012 at 4:48 pm

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