Tips for Tie Dyeing with Kids

July 21, 2013Allison Murray

Tips for Tie Dyeing with Kids

Tie dyeing is awesome. Plain and simple.

I’ve been especially lucky this summer because I’ve had the opportunity to show off my tie dyeing skills and spread the good word about Tulip tie dye kits at the same time by doing a little bit of product presentation at OKC Metro Hobby Lobby stores! By the by, stop by if you’re in Edmond, OK near the Danforth location on July 13 or the Broadaway location on July 27. I’ll also be dyeing up some fun at the Midwest City Hobby Lobby on August 3!

During my first presentation I learned something very interesting. No kid can resist tie dye. Set up a tee shirt and give them a pair of gloves and a squeeze bottle and kids are going to rock it. One little tie dyer went home with a huge smile, a tie dyed sleep shirt and some (temporary) purple freckles! His mother was so pleased with how much joy the little project brought him and there were laughs all around the table.

When I got home, my nephews wanted to get in on the action, too. So we busted out my tie dye supplies and grabbed some white undershirts from Dollar General and got after it.

Tips for Tie Dyeing with KidsI had a hard time getting photos that didn’t have ridiculous faces and arms all wonky. This pic was in response to my asking them to “be serious for a minute”.

You don’t have to know a lot about tie dye to know that it’s messy business. From my limited experience with children, everything they do is messy. Put kids and tie dye together and you have potential for disaster. So today, I’m sharing my real life earned tips for tie dyeing with kids:

  • Make sure the kids understand that tie dye isn’t a perfect art, especially if you have a kid that’s borderline perfectionist. Most of the fun is not knowing exactly what the finished product will look like!
  • Just plan on the kids wearing splotches of color for the next few days. One kid got dye inside of his gloves and the other one managed to sit down in a puddle or something and his legs were green for a few days.
  • Always pre-wash 100% cotton shirts to remove sizing and help get the brightest colors. If your colors come out dull or muted they’re going to be pretty disappointed.
  • Always wet your shirts so that the colors bleed together. Harsh edges in between dye colors was the most common complaint I heard this past weekend about DIY tie dye and a dry shirt is going to give you those nasty harsh edges.
  • If dealing with kids that just grab things, it may be a good idea to limit the dyes out to ones that work well together to prevent any strange brown splotches when the dye bleeds together. The three color Tulip Kits are great because the colors are especially picked to work together. Visit craft stores, or even Wal-Mart for a good couple of varieties to choose from.
  • Get a big plastic tarp or drop cloth to protect your surface. I gave each kid a trash bag unfolded and it didn’t do a whole lot of good. My tile floor in the kitchen is also tie dyed right now!
  • Have a lot of paper towels on hand. I typically don’t like using paper towels because I feel that it is wasteful, but this is one project where I pretty much insist on grabbing a roll. There are going to be little spills and messes that need quick attention and sometimes you’ll need to clean up the work space if you’ve got a kid with a heavy hand.
  • Rinsing the tie dye is the least fun bit of the whole process. Which is probably why my nephews were in the other room watching TV while I was wringing out a pile of tees in my bath tub. My mother introduced me to a fantastic invention this past weekend – Shout Color Catching Dye-Trapping Sheets. Toss two in with a batch of well rinsed tie dyes and it will soak up any excess you didn’t manage to wring out (and there is always some). These nifty little sheets will make sure the white areas of your tie dyes stay white!

Tips for Tie Dyeing with Kids

Do you have any fantastic tips for working with kids and messy crafts? I’d love to hear them!


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