Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Adventures in Tie-Dye

Here's what our patio looked like Saturday as my coworkers and I tie-dyed some white shirts for our annual group photo at school.

As I mentioned before, we try to have a theme for the photo each year. Last year while weeding the collection -- thinning out the unread books -- one of the librarians found a vintage 1960s book on tie-dyeing. It inspired us to tie-dye for ourselves.

The book, however, is quite sophisticated and went way beyond anything we wanted to attempt in a single afternoon. So we bought a commercial tie-dye kit on Amazon. It came with squirt bottles to mix the dye, as well as spare dye packets and basic instructions.

I'd only tie-dyed once before, about 25 years ago at the groovy home of my friends Kevin and Suzanne, but I don't remember anything at all about the process we used. (Back then I was ahead of my time -- in addition to t-shirts, I tie-dyed two pairs of briefs. It seemed crazy, but tie-dye style underwear is commercially available now!)

I had a vague idea that tie-dyeing would involve buckets and string and messiness. But we put down some newspaper and with the handy squirt bottles to administer the dye, it wasn't difficult or messy. We wound up with neat, cling-wrapped packages that we had to let sit overnight to allow the dye to fix.

The next morning, I hand-rinsed the excess dye out of my two shirts (my hands were blue for the rest of the day!) and washed them separately in the washing machine. I was worried about this step, as you may recall, but everything turned out fine.

The dye in the finished product is much more faint than the vivid colors in the bottles initially promised, and the green washed out so much that it looks a lot like the yellow. (Two of my coworkers hand-washed their shirts, despite the kit's directions, and their dye jobs stayed brighter.) But aside from that, I'm happy. I got a nice spiral effect, didn't I?

I did another shirt too, which you can see lying flat in the top photo, but it was less successful. It looks like a big, blotchy easter egg. Maybe I'll sleep in that one.


Kevin Wood said...

I don't think we did anything much more than tie up our shirts and dip them in dye. I ended up with a simple orange shirt that I remember quite liking.

Ms. Moon said...

I used to tie-dye my baby's little white t-shirts. They were adorable!
I swear to you. I did this.
Never tie-dyed my underwear though.
I think your shirt looks fabulous.

Vivian said...

i like it ...looks like a fun time.

ellen abbott said...

sounds like the same kit that I used with the g'kids this summer and our colors came out very vivid. we let them sit for 8 hours, rinsed in cold water until it mostly ran clear, then washed them three times in the washing machine with hot water (to make sure that the colors didn't bleed when put in with the regular wash). perhaps your shirts were't 100% cotton. polyester doesn't take the die as well. I did some of my underwear this summer.

e said...

How fun is that! A great job...You'll enjoy wearing them.

37paddington said...

What a great bonding experience. You seem to enjoy your co-workers.