How to Make Rainbow Tie Dye Shirts

By Vanessa Padgalskas

Tie dying shirts is a fun and easy arts and crafts project that will turn a plain white shirt into a colorful piece of wearable art. You can use an old white T shirt you found in the back of your closet or a new T shirt bought for the tie dye project. Tie dye shirts are like snowflakes: No tie dyed shirts are exactly alike in color or pattern.

Soak your shirt in a tray of warm water and soda ash for 10 minutes. This will allow the dyes to adhere to your cotton shirt. Ring out your shirt to remove excess water after it is done soaking.

Lay out your shirt flat. Pinch the middle of your shirt and twist it until the shirt forms into a small disc. Twisting the shirt will make a rainbow design after the shirt soaks in the dye. You can twist and wrap the shirt anyway you want, but it may not create the traditional rainbow design.

Wrap multiple rubber bands around the twisted shirt, so no parts of the shirt come loose.

Cover your working area with plastic and wear rubber gloves to avoid dyeing your hands. Wear old clothes that can be damaged with dye.

Squirt your colored dye over your shirt disc. You can spray a different color on each third of the disc or use just one or two colors. You can also mix colors to make new shades, such as yellow and green to make blue. Make sure the disc is completely covered with dye. Do not leave any white spaces on the shirt.

Put the shirt in a zip-close bag and let the dye set for at least 24 hours.

Unwrap the shirt after 24 hours. Rinse the shirt with cold water to remove excess dye.

Warning

Do not wash your tie dye shirt with any other articles of clothing. The dye can bleed during the washing cycle and stain other clothing.

About the Author

Vanessa Padgalskas was born and raised in Spokane, Wash., and currently resides in Portland, Ore. Padgalskas graduated from American University in 2007 with degrees in international studies and economics. She holds a law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School.