Summer is here and that means tie dyeing! Get our tips on how to throw an awesome tie dye party that’s fun not just for teens
What’s a really fun way to spend a sunny afternoon? Tie dyeing with a bunch of your friends, of course. It is a perfect way to get your creative juices flowing, learn a new skill, teach a new craft and enjoy some time with great people.
A tie dye party is also an awesome way to spend an afternoon activity for kids to learn how to blend colors, make some designs and hopefully acquire a love of creating something with your own hands.
- What do you need for a tie dye party?
- Things to do before the party:
- Things to do at the party:
- What are some tie dye party food ideas?
- How long does a tie dye party last?
- What can kids tie dye at a party?
- Where did tie dyeing originate?
What do you need for a tie dye party?
That really depends on how elaborate you want your party to be. The absolute minimum supplies necessary are things to dye (cotton t-shirts, sheets, socks, etc.), a tie dye kit and of course, your guests.
From there, you can go crazy with decorations, food and drinks, prizes and party favors.
Things to do before the party:
- Figure out exactly how many people will be attending so you can make sure that you have enough supplies on hand.
- Let your friends know that these dyes are specifically formulated for natural fibers and they know to bring only pre-washed, natural fiber clothing made of Cotton, Linen, Bamboo, Hemp, etc.
- Also let them know to wear old clothing. No matter how careful you are, it is really hard to not get some dye on the clothes you are wearing.
Gather the supplies
- Tie Dye Kit *
- Pre-washed clothing such as T Shirts, Long Johns, Headbands, Bandanas, Socks, Scrunchies, Aprons or Onesies (Natural fibers) *
- Soda Ash (if not included in kit)
- Squeeze bottles (if not included in kit)
- Rubber bands (if not included in kit)
- Big spoons for stirring
- Aprons (optional)
- Table covers
- Zip bags (1 per item)
- Washable marker
- Permanent marker (to label tags and bags)
- Paper towels
- Instructions (if not included in kit)
Notes about the supplies
Note: 100% Cotton items can be hard to find (i.e. socks). If there is a small percentage of a non-natural fiber, you can still dye them but beware that the synthetic part will not take the color.
Also, check your Tie Dye Kit to see how many items you can dye with it and that it has enough supplies to accommodate all of your guests. In my experience, people like to dye more than one item so make sure you have enough.
Finally, it is a good idea to label the various pieces of clothing so that you can tell them apart later. You can do that by writing the name on the shirt tags with a permanent marker.
This Tulip Tie Dye Party Kit contains everything you need all in one kit.
Some of the items on the supply list are shared and some are needed per person. For instance, you only need one or two buckets to presoak all of the together in water and/or Soda Ash.
You will need one for each person of the following supply items:
- Item to dye (if they don’t bring their own)
- Apron (optional)
- Table space
- Pair of Gloves
- Zip bag (1 per dyed item)
Set up the tables
Since fabric dyeing can be pretty messy, you will want to set up outside, in a garage or an unfinished basement. Cover each of your tables with a plastic tablecloth.
If you like to be super organized, go ahead and place a pair of gloves, rubber bands and some paper towels at each place.
Things to do at the party:
Tie Dye Instructions:
Pretreat the fabrics
Once your guests have arrived, the actual tie dyeing fun can begin! First, I recommend that you read through all of the directions included in your kit so that you know how to tie dye before you start thee whole process.
Not all kits are the same and as I said, some include the Soda Ash and some do not.
If the instructions call for pre-soaking the fabrics in Soda Ash, go ahead and fill some buckets with water, add the required amount of Soda Ash and then submerge everything.
If the addition of Soda Ash is not required, you will simply submerge your items in warm water only.
Mix the dyes
Check the instructions on your particular dye kit and mix the colors accordingly. Some kits already have the dye powder in the bottles and all you have to do is add water and shake well.
Other kits may have separate dye packets so carefully place one packet in each bottle, add water and shake.
Note: you may want to place a dust mask on your face before handling any dry dye powders.
Fold the fabrics
Now the real fun begins! Everybody gets to take their shirt or other clothing item out of the bucket and wring out the excess liquid. They will then fold the fabric for the design of their choice and secure it with rubber bands.
Tie dye pattern options
Some of the more common designs are the Spiral, Bullseye, Flag and Accordion Fold. Your kit will have step by step instructions for making the various patterns. You can also see some common folding techniques in this article.
Note: to dye a specific shape such as the heart (above), a guitar, moon, star, etc., draw the shape on your fabric with a washable marker and then pinch and scrunch the outline.
You can see how I made the heart tank top in this tutorial.
Note: Make sure and use the WASHABLE marker, not a PERMANENT marker!
Apply the dyes
Next, it is time to apply the dyes. You may want to remind your friends to put on their gloves.
Which colors to use and where to place them is a completely personal choice and there are no hard and fast rules!
Some color options:
- Apply a different color between two rubber banded areas (if the rubber band is tight enough, the fabric underneath will remain mostly white)
- Overlap two colors to get a third (be aware that red and green makes brown)
- Use only colors in one particular family such as yellow, orange and red or pink, red and purple
- Dip the folded and rubber banded piece into one dye in a bucket for one all-over color with white patterns
- Leave spaces without dye which will stay white (or whatever the original color of the fabric is)
Set the dyes
Once all of the dyes have been applied to a particular fabric, carefully place that piece in a zip bag and close it tightly. It will stay there for the recommended time per the instructions on the kit.
This can range from a few hours to overnight after which time the excess dyes need to be rinsed out thoroughly.
Finally, the finished tie dyes need to be washed in the machine (separately) to remove any leftover color.
Note: Let each guest know to:
- Leave their piece in the zip bag for the allotted time
- Thoroughly rinse out the excess dyes
- Wash tie dyed pieces separately in a washing machine
- Hang to dry
What are some tie dye party food ideas?
If you are hosting your tie dye party outside in the Summer, some obvious food ideas are watermelon and other cut fruit. Also, less messy snacks such as pretzels or tortilla chips and dip.
How long does a tie dye party last?
To get the actual mixing of the dyes, tying the fabrics and applies the dyes done will take about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. This depends greatly on how many participants you have as well as their age.
To set the dyes to the clothing can take a lot longer. Most tie dye kits come with fiber reactive dyes which take about 12 hours to set.
Obviously, your guests will probably not stay that long, unless it is a sleepover. You can just have some zip bags available for them to be able to take their projects home.
What can kids tie dye at a party?
Tshirts are always a good choice, even for younger children. Other fun things including socks (make sure they are mostly cotton), headbands (cotton) or cotton shorts.
If you are tie dyeing with young kids, I would stay away from anything small that is harder to manipulate like hair bows, for instance.
Where did tie dyeing originate?
While this fabric dyeing technique is mostly associated with the late 1960 and 70s, according to this article it actually dates all the way back to the 5th Century in both China and Peru.
It is also closely related to Shibori dyeing which originated in Japan in the 8th Century.
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