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The Joy of Toddler Tie Dye*

The Joy of Toddler Tie Dye*

*Joke is on Me!

When I posted videos and pictures on Instagram of the tie dye day I had with my kids, some of you called me brave and some called me a saint. The truth is, I'm just an Art Mom. When I feel the need to be creative, my kids have no choice but to come along for the ride! Over 2 months ago I bought a tie dye kit knowing I would feel the urge this summer. We finally had a couple days of pre- summer sunshine and as expected, I was in!! Overall I would call it a messy success, and another practice of letting go of control. So if you want to try... here are my tips!! Show me your results!!Tie Dye Kit


Turn on Mickey Mouse or Sesame Street. Distract all the way - Kids need to be in the other room so you can set up. Ideal set up is on a table outside. You’d be surprised where the dye ends up and your couch cushions are a prime target.


Use a tarp, or rip garbage bags in half, like I did, and tape them to the table. Don't skip this step!!


Apropos in the time of Quarantine. Get your gloves out people. Tie Dye stains. Not the way Crayola markers "stain" and wash off when you feel like it. My 19m old daughter (who was trying to crawl on the table) - wouldn’t wear the gloves, and had bruise colored dye on her forearms and face for 2 days. Great look! My 3 year old wore the gloves and only had splatters of blue on his face. I call that a win. 

T-Shirt Choices

For my family of 4 I ordered a pack of small Hanes boys T’s and a pack of size large Hanes men’s T’s. Minimal effort here to cover us - the kids will fit into the kids shirts and my husband and I will wear the men’s shirts. Extra energy later might be spent cutting, sewing, or retying for Hazel and myself. But probably not.

T-Shirt Prep

Twist and Fold those T-shirts! Get creative - fold, pleat vertically and horizontally, try folding into a square. Wind in a circle shape, or a bullseye starting at the belly of the shirt. Any white space hidden from the outside will stay lighter when dying, and any space shown on the outside will get saturated in color. Use rubber bands to secure in place. 

Wet or Dry Method

You can wet your t-shirts beforehand which lends itself to the color bleeding more. I went with the dry method - pure mom laziness -  I needed to get this day going. There is also a method of using ice which is so cool. I opted out of this one too because my kids would just try to eat the ice with dye on it.

It's Time to Tie Dye!

After you fill up your squirt bottles with water, go get those kids we keep talking about!! Unless they found you already like mine did. The goal is to get the dye onto the shirts. No, stop squirting the table. Stop squirting your sister.Toddler Tie Dye

Remember your Color Families

If you dye red and green on top of each other you’ll end up with brown. Also remember you only really need variations of your primary colors in order to make all the colors. The great part about the kit I used is some of the color variations are super saturated and bright, and will give you a neon look, which is really fun.

Set it and Forget it

When you're done, leave the dyed shirts on the tarp, and cover with another garbage bag or tarp, to keep moist. I let mine sit for 6 hours. Clean up the rest and go play.
(In my world "go play" means this: First, I made sure any excess dye came off my table, which it did thankfully.  I then took my kids up for a morning bath to scrub them clean - and barely any of the dye came off of them. I tried scrubbing with baking soda as recommended. Barely worked. What did help was a couple days of lotion and sunscreen. So oil does the trick here.) 

Wash and Dry

6 hours later I took the shirts in and rinsed them in the sink. Do this with the rubber bands still on. A TON of dye will come out which is normal. If you are going the pro method you can soak your garments in a fixative. I did not do this for our shirts and in turn they came out a lot softer looking than when wet.
I did do this when I made masks. Yes you heard me right. I made masks! But more on that later...
When you're done washing out the excess dye, cut the rubber bands, and the T's need to go in the washing machine on hot with a little detergent. Transfer to the dryer, and then you are done!

Wear and Feel Joy

My kids had no interested in untying, rinsing, washing the shirts (obviously). But the next day, Liam was beyond excited that he could wear something he made! That's a success!! 
The moral of the story for me is this: 
I ordered more dye. It's a disaster to do with kids, but the results are really rewarding! So I'll be doing this again. And until then... 
Masks are a GO and I can't wait for you to see those!! 
Toddler Tie Dye Results
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