Halloween Tie Dye with RIT Dye!

October 4, 2012Allison Murray

There are two things in this world that I really and truly love. One is Halloween. Now I don’t dress up myself and I don’t have my own little ones to dress up, but I absolutely love seeing the lil’ bits in their cute little costumes. In fact, probably one of the reasons I dislike my current home the most is because it is so isolated which means – no trick or treaters!

The other thing I really love? Tie dye. Oh my goodness do I love me some tie dye! When you drive by and see my laundry line chock full of tie dye, you can guess pretty easily what I’ve been up to that day.

So, when I received a package of RIT dye in the mail those 7 bottles joined my already existing collection of 13 bottles.

When I saw them all of those pretty bottles together I quite literally squealed and set out designing some too cute tie dye for some very cute little ones. We’ve got zombies, skeletons, cats and bats, oh my!

The basic tie dye supplies that you will need are:

  • Prewashed 100% cotton tee shirts
  • RIT dye in your choice of colors
  • Salt (about a cup per color) – optional but highly recommended for best results
  • Rubber bands -OR- waxed string
  • Bowls, tubs, etc. to hold dye baths
  • Rubber gloves & Plastic trash bag, tarp, etc.
  • Old rags for clean up and old towels
  • Large pot and stove (optional)

To prep for tie dyeing, take your bowls or tubs and fill with hot (and I do mean HOT) water and a cup of salt. Pour in your RIT dye, using more for brighter or heavier colors and less for lighter colors. Give a good stir and do a quick test with a small piece of white fabric or paper towel to gauge that the color is where you want it.

Spread your plastic tarp, trash bag, etc. on top of your work surface to protect it and put your prepared dye baths on top. This step is optional, but I’m warning you that this is messy business!


Moonlit Zombie Tee

  • Freezer paper, x-acto knife
  • Printed pumpkin pattern (I have gotten mine here for years!)
  • Hot iron
  • Fabric pen or fabric paint and brush
  • Two rubber bands
  • RIT dye in Sunshine Orange
  • RIT dye in Black
  • Yellow 100% cotton tee

First things first – you need 100% cotton shirts. Use a poly blend and your colors will be dull and muted so steer clear! (FYI – the shirts sold at Michael’s are a blend. The shirts sold at Hobby Lobby are 100% cotton. These may differ from store to store, so be sure to verify on the label.)

For this shirt we’re going to make a bullseye. Pinch the fabric in the center of your shirt (align with the seem for the underarm and the center of the collar) and lift up toward you.

Use rubber bands or waxed string to tie off. For this we’re making the background of the moon! Your first rubber band should go a couple of inches in from the center and your second should be at the size that you want your moon to be when the shirt is finished. I wanted a 10 inch moon, so I went 5 inches down for my second rubber band.

If you’re not fond of having Halloween stained hands for a couple of days, snap on some rubber gloves.

Now, for this shirt I purchased a tee that was already yellow. This is just to make sure that I get the perfect yellow for my moon. Should you purchase a white tee, you’ll need to start by first dying it yellow.

Take your yellow shirt and wet it down for color that will spread. Hold the shirt by the center of the bullseye and place it into your dye bath.  Hold there for several minutes to allow the color to take. The longer it is in, the more saturated the color will become. Squeeze out all of the excess dye back into the dye bath.

Next we’re going to bring this tie dye into the kitchen. We want the area on the outside of the bullseye to be black. Black that is dark as night! In my experience, you get best results when working with black dye using the stove top method. You can do a dye bath like with the other colors, but you stand the chance of the color being more brown than black.

Mix your dye, salt and water in a large pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.

Grab your tee by the bullseye and hold in the pot, swishing the fabric around like you’re stirring the pot with the shirt. I did this for 10 minutes.

Now take this baby to rinse. You can go outside with the water hose, into the kitchen sink, or as I did, the bath tub. While still bound rinse your shirt under warm water, gradually cooling the water down. When your water runs clear, untie the shirt and continue rinsing until the water is clear again. Hand wring any excess water.

Take your shirt, lay flat on an old towel and double the towel over to sandwich the shirt. Take and roll the shirt up in the towel nice and tightly to remove excess water. This also works well to make 100% sure that you got all of your dye out as any left in the shirt will transfer onto the towel. If that happens, rinse the shirt out again and repeat.

Toss your shirt into the washer and either dry in your machine or on the line.

To embellish this tee, we’re going to take a pumpkin carving pattern (I bought mine here) and make a stencil with freezer paper. Trace the pattern onto your freezer paper, cut out with your x-acto knife and use a hot iron to adhere the stencil to your shirt. Need more help with freezer paper stenciling? Try this…

Use either a fabric pen or fabric paint and a brush to fill in the stencil. When dry, peel the stencil away and heat set the design according to the package directions for your pen or paint. And that’s that!


Tie Dyed & Cat Appliqued Tee

For this fun cat applique shirt you will need:

  • Hot pink 100% cotton tee
  • Rubber bands
  • RIT dye in Black + stove & pot for stove top dye method
  • black felt or fleece
  • FREE cat printable
  • straight pins
  • scissors
  • fabric glue
  • embroidery floss and needle
  • two rhinestone eyes

Lay your shirt in front of you and pinch the fabric in the center. Use your collar and under arm seems as a guide to find the center.

Take the pinched fabric and turn your hand,  holding on to the fabric tightly. As you turn the tee will begin to spiral around your hand. Continue until the full shirt is wound up. Band the shirt into a disk or plate-like shape, bringing in the fabric that isn’t coiled so tightly as you go. Continue around several turns until the bands hold the shirt firmly in shape.

Drop your shirt into simmering black RIT dye and allow to remain, stirring occasionally for at least ten minutes.

Remove from dye, rinse until water comes back clear and towel dry. Rerinse if necessary. Throw in the washer and dry.

Pin your FREE cat pattern to your felt or fleece (I used a sheet of fleece found with the felt) and cut the shape out.

Find the center of your shirt and use fabric glue to adhere your cat. Allow to dry.

Take embroidery floss and stitch the cat onto your shirt. You can use a color similar to the shirt, white for a nice pop, or black if you want the stitches to be ‘invisible’.

Glue on two rhinestones for eyes and this tee is finito!


Girly Skull with Fun Removable Bow

For this fun and girly skeleton tee you will need:

  • White 100% cotton tee
  • Rubber bands
  • RIT dye in Sunshine Orange
  • FREE printable skull pattern
  • Ribbon and matching thread and needle
  • Safety pin
  • Freezer paper, x-acto knife, hot iron
  • White fabric paint
  • Black fabric marker

Fold your shirt into quarters. Take the corner that is essentially the center of your shirt and fold from that corner, back and fort until you get a triangle shape as seen above. Band the shirt tightly together.

Place the shirt in your orange dye bath and allow to sit. The longer the bath the stronger the color.

Rinse the shirt until the water runs clear, towel dry, wash and dry.

Transfer your skull printable onto your freezer paper and use your knife to cut the stencil out. Use a hot iron to set and fill in the stencil with your white fabric paint. Allow to dry and recover as many times as necessary to get a good solid paint job.

If you want your skull to stand out a bit more, when fully dry, outline the shape with your black fabric marker. This step is optional (it looks really cute without the outline, also!)

Now to make your removable bow.

Take a long cut of your ribbon (approximately 12 inches) and fold as seen above. Pinch the ribbon together and use string to tie the pinched area in place. Take a small piece of ribbon and wrap around, covering your string tied on and sew shut. Don’t tie off your thread just yet… sew on your safety pin to make your bow removable!

Pin that bow on and this project is a wrap!


Freaky Flock of Bats

For this freaky tee you will need:

  • White 100% cotton tee
  • Rubber bands
  • RIT dye in Evening Blue
  • RIT dye in Purple
  • RIT dye in Black
  • FREE fun swarm of bats pattern
  • Freezer paper, x-cto knife, hot iron
  • Fabric pen or paint and brush

Take the shirt and fold on a diagonal from bottom hem to the top of the sleeve.

Scrunch the shirt, like an accordion along the fold and rubber band along the fold a couple of times and a couple of inches in.

Take what is left of the shirt and ball and scrunch it up randomly.

Use rubber bands to secure the scrunched up portion of the shirt and kind of go nuts with the bands. The more the better your stripes will be after dying!

Take the shirt and let all of it soak for about 20 minutes in your blue dye bath.

Follow with dipping the shirt scrunched side down into the purple dye bath up to about the first rubber band in the pic above. Hold and allow to dye for 10-15 minutes.

Repeat with the bottom, scrunched only, section in your stove top black dye bath. Hold for at least ten minutes.

Rinse until the water runs clear, remove bands and rinse again until clear. Towel dry, wash and dry.

Proceed to use the free bat pattern as a freezer paper stencil and that’s about that!

So, that’s that for this Thursday. Whether you follow the steps I have laid out for you, or you go to town with your own designs and ideas, I’m sure that you’ll have the cuties tots with the cutest tees this Halloween!

A very special thanks goes out to my super cute tee shirt models. Aren’t they fantastic?!? Happy Thursday tye dye lovers!

Comments (4)

  • Heidi @ Mom’s Crafty Space

    October 4, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    These shirts are amazing! We love tie dye around here too, and I bet my boys would go crazy over these designs. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Allison Murray

    October 4, 2012 at 4:20 PM

    Thanks for the compliments, Heidi! I love that others love tie dye! It's just so happy :)

  • Heather – Dollarstorecrafts

    October 5, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    These are all four really awesome ideas. You did great on them!! Pinning & sharing.

  • Allison Murray

    October 5, 2012 at 8:08 PM

    Thanks so much, Heather!

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