Tie dye is the thing to do in summer 2020. I was excited to hop on the bandwagon and bring back some 90s nostalgia from my childhood. I decided it would be a fun outdoor project for my three-year-olds. Ice Tie Dye is the perfect way to embrace the tie dye trend with young children because it’s not as intimidating as handing your preschooler a squirt bottle full of dye.
I ordered the Tulip One-Step 5-Color Tie Dye Kit because it has everything you need including the dye, squirt bottles, rubber bands and gloves. And the mixture already includes soda ash so you don’t have to presoak your garments. This particular kit has amazing Amazon reviews (4.7/5.0). Of course knowing my girls, I chose the “Ultimate” color combination, which included aqua, purple, pink, yellow and lime green. They have a ton of other color combinations as well. This kit has enough dye for up to 30 projects, so we’ll probably be tie dying everything white in our house over the course of this summer.
Since our girls insist on only wearing “long pretty dresses,” I knew if this tie dye project was going to have a lasting effect, we had to tie dye dresses. I found these really cute white cotton t-shirt dresses, which were perfect for this project. And because the girls always want Heidi matching or at least coordinating, I found these baby/toddler white cotton dresses; not a perfect match, but still super cute with the ruffled skirt. I also ordered a t-shirt dress for myself, but I am not happy enough with it to recommend as it was a little too see through and short. I am eying this white maxi dress though, which I think would make a super cute tie dye project. Really any white garment that is 100% cotton or 100% natural fiber will do. We even snagged one of Daddy’s t-shirts so he wouldn’t feel left out.
Here’s the five simple steps to tie dying:
- Get your garment soaking wet and ring it out.
- Bunch up your garment to create a pattern.
- Apply dye.
- Put in a ziploc bag and wait 6-8 hours for dye to set.
- Wash with hot water and dry separate of any other garments.
The fun part is that there are infinite possibilities for designs with tie dye. In fact no two garments will ever come out the exact same. For our project, I decided to use the ice dying technique so that the girls could help and because it creates a more muted effect (as opposed to other bright, high-contrast techniques). And for the bunching up of the garment, I decided because we had longer dresses to create a double spiral pattern. A random crumble pattern also works well with this technique.
To make the double spiral, I laid the dress out flat and then started by pinching and twisting clockwise up near where the left sleeve attaches to the dress (but a little down and in from there). Once the top of the spiral ran out of fabric to spiral, I move to the bottom right corner of the dress (except up and in a little ways from there as well) and pinched and did another clockwise twist (I think with Daddy’s I did the bottom spiral counter-clockwise to switch it up). Because my dress was really long, I ended up doing three spirals by creating one in the middle right of the skirt and then moving back to the left side at the bottom. Then I just randomly bunched up the sections that didn’t twist up in the spiral and wrapped rubber bands around to hold it together.
Now to the ice dying part! So, the difference between ice dying and regular dying is that instead of adding water to the powder and then squirting on the garment, you place the garment on a cooling rack or in a strainer (or anything designed to let liquid fall through), pile a bunch of ice on top of it and then squirt the powder onto the ice. As the ice melts it mixes with the powder becomes dye and falls on the garment dying the shirt. I let the girls pick two colors for each garment and just had them sporadically alternate/space the colors around the garment.
This is a great technique for kids because it can be less messy. I still recommend that they wear play clothes though (and maybe gloves) when attempting this project. Also, it’s important to note that you only need a small amount of powder to create the effect, so watch how much they are squeezing out of the bottle. I was afraid that Brooklyn was going to squeeze the entire amount of powder out in the first spot, but was happily surprised that the squirt bottle regulated the flow of powder well.
The trick is then to wait for the ice to melt. This can be really fast on a hot sunny day or take a couple hours on an overcast, cool day. It was the perfect excuse for us to hang out in the backyard. And it was a good opportunity to talk about and then see what happens to ice in heat. We did get a little impatient at the end and used a spray bottle of hot water to speed up the process. After the ice melted, I put each garment in it’s own ziploc bag to set for 6-8 hours.
Then that evening I did a billion loads of laundry to separately wash and dry each of our outfits. The girls were so giddy about the project and wanted desperately to wear then right away. I promised they would be ready for them first thing in the morning for us to wear. They popped out of bed the next morning asking for their tie dye dresses. And then that night, they asked if they could wear them the next day. So I think it is safe to say that this project was definitely a win with our three year olds!
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