Can you make a tie-dye shirt with leftover easter dye? Apparently Not.

by Dot —

Sometimes I just don’t think. I blame it on mommy brain most of the time.

In the hectic aftermath of my son’s first real attempt at age 3.5 to really dye easter eggs “by himself”, I was looking at those lovely dye colors*.  I can’t just pour them out!  They are too pretty!  Maybe we can dye something else?  So I figured why not a “tie-dyed” shirt, a simple version, made by just pouring the egg dye over a tied up shirt, in stripes?  Easy to do, we’re already messy, and maybe (just maybe) if we make a cool shirt out of the deal, he’ll actually consent to wearing a shirt with buttons  (the child currently refuses to wear shirts with button or shoes with laces right now… No idea why.)

Tie Dye Shirt Fail

Tie Dye Shirt Fail

This was not too difficult, and actually looked really nice.  But I realized, as I started to rinse out the rag I’d used, that there was a small issue.

Now, if you stop to think about the inherent properties of egg dye, you might remember that it’s meant to be used by small children, and parents don’t really want their small children and their clothes dyed permanently.

The rag I’d used didn’t stain.  It rinsed out very cleanly.   Uh-0h.  If I rinse out the shirt, those pretty colors are just going to run together, and/or rinse right down the drain.  Hmm.  Maybe if it dries in the clothes, and it dry it in the dryer, the heat will set the stain a bit (I know this totally works on stains that I WANT to get out!).  So I spread the shirt out, let it dry overnight.  Even the next morning, it’s still a little damp, and I note its still staining my hands.  I wrap it in a towel and throw it in the dryer.  It escapes the towel, and leaves blue on the inside of my dryer.  I clean the dryer as best I can (it’s still a little blue, but maybe that’s from the crayons that went through the dryer mishap, and in anycase, it’s not coming off).  Shirt is now dry.  If you wet it, however, it still drips dye.  And I know the dye needs to be washed out, but I hate to ruin it before he wears it, since he’s actually considering wearing a shirt with buttons!

So this is the plan.  The Boy can wear the shirt one time in its current pretty but fragile state (hopefully he doesn’t sweat in it or get rained on) and then I’ll wash it and see whether any dye remains!  My bet is that some dye will remain, but it will be very washed out and pastel, or muddied with the blue.   (I’ll update when it’s done!)

*I have to add, I’m embarrassed to say that I actually did not do any of the really cool dye ideas I posted about on my blog, just used the storebought because we ran out of time!

14 Responses to Can you make a tie-dye shirt with leftover easter dye? Apparently Not.

  1. sharyn says:

    Very cool idea! I wonder if vinegar would set the dye. (If not, your child will just smell like salad dressing!) However (said tongue in cheek) the “most interesting” part is the red dot. It looks like someone has been shot! Be on the lookout for Child Protective Services!

    Sorry about the dryer. :(

  2. kelebek says:

    I thought about vinegar too. But if the shirt is made out of cotton or any other non-animal fibre you are out of luck! Nice looking shirt though, what a shame!

  3. My 2.5 year old son thinks the shirt looks awesome, and hopes someone will make one for him. I hope it’s a save!

  4. TPRJones says:

    When he does wear it, aren’t you likely to end up with a mostly blue child?

  5. DotatDabbled says:

    sharyn and kelebek: Yeah, I thought about vinegar… but I doubt it :)

    Heather: to replicate the look, but without the fail… Try this kit — it works really well:

    TPRJones: Yeah, I’m thinking he can try out for the Blue Man Group then :)

    DotatDabbled’s last blog post..Easter Eggs: 12 Interesting ways to color/paint/dye them!

  6. kimcoombs217 says:

    i was thinking about doing this with some yarn and egg dye, but i already planned on using vinegar and boiling it on the stove for 30 minutes, it won’t help with the tye-dye look that you wanted but it could save some of the color.

  7. Mary says:

    Awww. That’s cute! It’s too bad taht it won’t stick. :(

    It reminds me of when I was in junior high though. My mother had some mousse that was supposed to put a temporary color in your hair. Well, I thought I’d like some red highlights one day, so I got out her mousse. I used as much of the red and I did of my normal mousse. Mistake 1. Then it started raining on my way to school. Yeah, there was red mousse dripping down my neck into my clothes.

    Oh if only that were my most embarrassing junior high moment! Sigh.

    Mary’s last blog post..A Last Supper Post for Shelley.

  8. LAnchristy says:

    my niece did this a little different on a cotton shirt and it has stayed in pretty well. She just did spots on the shirt of blue and yellow and we were going to do this for our Girl Scouts for our parade that we are going to be in. I’m in the process of trying it a different way with the vinger and letting it dry then drying it in the dryer and then washing it.

  9. DotatDabbled says:

    Well, he wore the shirt to preschool today… we’ll find out soon enough what the verdict is! :)

    DotatDabbled’s last blog post..Flickr tools and toys

  10. Dip the shirt in a solution of 1 cup salt to 1 gallon of water. Let it sit for about 10 minutes. Wring it out ~ let it air dry to damp ~ then iron it. Then rinse it in cool water and toss in dryer or air dry. That’s how I did the Easter egg shirts of my girls about 20 years ago and it worked. I don’t know if the easter egg dye formula has changed that much over the years.

    melody aka baitlady’s last blog post..snowday~

  11. angela says:

    can you dip the tie dyed shirt in the salt water if the dye used had vinegar in it??

  12. dot says:

    No idea, but it sounds like it would be worth a try.

  13. Marge says:

    We used vinegar when making our Easter egg dye and of course had lots left over so we decided to try tie dying shirts. My daughter made some beautiful tie dye shirts from old t-shirts(cotton)that had seen better days. If the color washes out it was at least worth the try. The tie dye patterns and colors turned out so good I hope the salt water method will set the color. Going to try that now. Thanks for the tip.

  14. Cara says:

    Do you think soaking the shirt in the salt solution before dying it would help the dye stick better?

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