How to Tie Dye a St. Patrick's Day Shirt

If you are looking for a green shirt (or hat, socks, etc.) to wear for St. Patrick's Day and you are coming up short (and no one wants to get pinched), then you can make a relatively inexpensive one with most things that you probably already have on hand with this fun Tie Dye shirt tutorial! Tie Dye is becoming popular again, just like so many trends from past generations, and this is a fun activity for the kids to get involved in too! St. Patrick's Day is a great day to teach and celebrate Irish culture.

My daughter was so excited when I told her we were going to tie dye shirts that she would NOT let me forget! She kept asking "when is St. Patrick's Day?". And when I let her know that St. Patrick's Day is March 17th, she made it very clear that she was counting down the days. She is a hoot! So here is what we did for our tie dye shirts. We went with a spiral because I think it looks the coolest, but there are easier designs as well as some more complicated ones if you do a little search, like maybe "Tie Dye Shamrock". This Tie Dye Tutorial uses vinegar and food coloring which can be a safer alternative if you want to include your kiddos in on this activity. These ingredients are usually found around the house in a pinch, but remember that your colors may not be as vibrant as using fabric dyes.

What You'll Need:

- trash bag (to protect your work surface)
- bucket
- white t-shirts (Food coloring is an acid-based dye. So it does not work as well on cotton, linen, and other plant-based fabrics.)
- white vinegar
- rubber bands
- disposable gloves (to protect hands from food coloring & vinegar smell)
- green food coloring
- two cups
- plastic wrap or a plastic baggie
- scissors (to cut off rubber bands)
- salt

What You'll Do:

1. In a bucket, mix together equal parts vinegar and water. We put in 4 cups vinegar and 4 cups water for our two kid medium shirts. Put your white shirt in and soak it for an hour. This will help the fabric absorb the color.

2. Mix 8 drops of green food coloring into a half cup of water, more or less water depending on how vibrant you want the color to turn out. Mix the second cup of water with slightly less food coloring to make it a lighter shade of green.

3. Remove the t-shirt from vinegar mixture and ring it out getting as much of the liquid out as possible. Lay the shirt out flat.

4. For a traditional spiral, pinch the middle of the shirt and twist until the entire shirt is in the form of a spiral. Place 3 to 4 rubber bands around the spiral shirt. Saturate half of the spiral shirt with the dark green dye and the other half with the lighter green dye. When pouring on the dye, it's best to do it over a bucket or sink so not to make a huge mess. Don't forget your gloves for this step! The food coloring will dye your skin. We poured the green on our shirts outside so not to stain anything and used the garbage bag to protect the shirt when lying it down on the ground for the swirl part.

For stripes, fan fold the shirt from left to right. Place rubbers bands around shirt as close or as far apart as you would like the stripes to be. Pour on dark green mixture on every other space and then fill in the rest with the lighter green shade.

5. Loosely wrap the entire shirt with plastic wrap or place in a baggie pushing as much air out as possible. The let set for 8 hours. We set our shirts out over night because that is how the timing worked for our school/practice schedule and I wanted my daughter to participate. It is best if you can let the wrapped shirt sit in the sun so the heat can set the dye into the fabric better. The longer you let it sit, the better.

6. Mix 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup cold water together in a bucket. Remove the rubber bands from shirt. Dip the shirt into the water/salt mixture, swirl it around a bit, and then ring it out.

7. Rinse the shirt in the sink under cold water until the water runs clear. Hang the shirt to dry and do not machine dry. (I have read different things on this. Some sites say that the warmth of the dryer can help the colors set better.) Once it does dry, the colors may be slightly faded if using food coloring.

Care tip: Wash the shirt separately for first three washes. Food coloring is more of a stain than a dye and will most likely fade over time. So in order to not stain the rest of your clothes, wash separately the first time. If you would like a more permanent tie dye shirt, there are awesome fabric dye kits available for purchase with two day shipping.

You could use different colors if you want to, of course. I think this would also make a fun craft idea for summer fun shirts to wear on an outings or to make at camp. I also think this would make for a fun slumber party activity. I remember tie dying shirts when I was in elementary school and they didn't turn out very well. This is the first time I have tried it since then. I ended up redoing our first shirts because I did a little more research to make them more vibrant. Let me know in the comments below how you think we did!

If you try this at home, please let me know in the comments below or tag us on social media. I enjoy getting to see people's creations inspired by something we have shared.

Do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day? What ways do you celebrate? Did you enjoy our tie dye tutorial?

No comments

Thank you for dropping by! I would love to hear what you thought. :)