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Craft socks: Tie-Dye

Painting - Dyeing, tutorial  |  July 24th 2011  |  0 Comment


tie-dyed socksSummer is the best time to tie-dye. Even with gloves on, tie-dye is a messy project, with a couple of iffy chemicals that you don’t necessarily want in your kitchen, but outside you can spread out and make your mess in the fresh summer air, and if you sit on the grass then you won’t even have the driveway to hose off when you’re done.

Additionally, tie-dye works best when it’s allowed to set for 24 hours in an airtight container, and the steamier and the muggier the environment that it sets in, the better. Know any place steamier and muggier than your backyard in the summer?

I love to tie-dye, and I love to tie-dye with my messy, creative kids. It’s a fun, accessible project with great results. Check out how to do your own tie-dye below:

put rubber bands around the fabric to be tie-dyedYou can tie-dye any fabric made from plant-based fibers– anything cotton, anything linen, anything jersey knit, etc. Protein-based fabrics, such as silk and wool, require different dyes (have you ever dyed silk with Kool-aid?), but if you’ve got anything from T-shirts to tablecloths, then you’re ready to tie-dye.

To tie-dye a fabric, you first must tie off portions of it, either by wrapping the fabric with rubber bands, or simply tying it into knots. You can do this at random, like the five-year-old here (her tie-dyed socks turned out AWESOME, by the way), or you can search online for specific tie-dye techniques.


stir the fabric in a bucket of soda ash mixed with water Purchase the best-quality tie-dye dye that you can easily afford. That being said, I go to garage sales pretty regularly in the summer, and I’m perennially finding brand-new really nice tie-dye kits for just a buck or two, so if you’re in the market for dye, then a quick query through craigslist or freecycle never hurts. The re-use gets you your eco-friendly props, too, as if you need more of those.

Unless you’re using dye that doesn’t require it, your next step is to soak your fabric in a big bucket of soda ash and water. You want to follow the manufacturer’s recommended ratio for this. Soda ash is the only kid-unfriendly ingredient in this process, so I keep it out of my kitchen altogether by mixing it up outside, using the garden hose for water and a kid with a long-handled spoon for stirring.

This soda ash solution can be re-used, so if you have the means to store it, then you can use it if you plan to tie-dye again in the near future.

After you’ve soaked your fabric for the recommended time, pick it up, wring it out, and you’re ready to dye.

For the best application, put your mixed dyes into old mustard bottles so you can squirt the dye exactly where you want it on the fabric. You can use the pointy nozzle of the bottle to poke into the folds of the fabric, and you can get quite detailed with color and design.

NOTE: Boy, will this dye stain your skin! I actually don’t really care that much, myself, but if you do, all you need are a pair of gloves and you’re all set

leave the bag in the yard for 24 hoursFor best results, your dye will need to set for about 24 hours, and it will need to stay wet for that entire time. To accomplish that, plop your dyed article into an old plastic zip-top bag or grocery store bag (another excuse to call upon freecycle!) and tie the plastic bag off. Simply leave the closed bag out in the yard, and when you come back in 24 hours, I guarantee that your article will be all wet and warm and steamy inside its bag and that’s exactly what you want.

rinse the tie-dyed articleSome crafters simply throw their dyed article into their washing machine for its rinse, but I have an he washing machine, which doesn’t use water the same way that a conventional washing machine does, and so I usually choose to hand-rinse my dyed items under the kitchen faucet. You want to rinse your item until the water runs clear, and then take off the rubber bands or untie the fabric so that you can admire what you’ve got.

If you often dye fabric, then you might want to splurge on a professional textile detergent, but otherwise all you have to do to finish is to wash your tie-dyed article in your washing machine with your regular detergent and in hot water. I like to throw in some extra vinegar as a rinse aid, but it’s strictly optional.

tie-dyed socks Now all you have to do is restrain yourself from walking around town in a completely tie-dyed wardrobe, because yes, it really IS that fun.









Raising a child with a toy box full of natural playthings could bankrupt a parent. Browse through any natural toy catalogue and you’ll see–those beeswax crayons, tree blocks, and Waldorf dolls are pricey!Fortunately, the beauty of natural playthings is that, unlike those molded plastic My Little Pony toys that my kiddos snatch up at every yard sale, you can make them yourself. I’ve made tree blocks. I’ve made organic play dough. I’ve made my own modeling beeswax. And, although I can’t actually make my own silk, I’ve bought undyed silk cheaply and dyed it to make beautiful, colorful, free-form play silks for my daughters.

Play silks, of all shapes and sizes and colors, are simply hemmed pieces of lightweight dyed fabric that lend themselves to all kinds of creative play, from dress-up to fort-making to using with a child’s other toys. I’ve watched my daughters tie black play silks around their heads to make a pirate’s eye patch, drape a yellow play silk over two chairs to make a “tent made of the sun,” clip a play silk to a My Little Pony at one end and a LEGO carriage at the other end and pull it around a building block farmyard.

You’d be amazed at the ways that a child can find to play with such a simple toy, and with my method, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to cheaply dye your play silks to make a rainbow of vibrant colors:

pour three packages of Kool-aid into the waterNOTE: Silk is a natural fabric, but it is not vegan. Unfortunately, you cannot make this particular project vegan, because acid dyes, including Kool-aid, only work on animal fabrics, such as silk and wool.

When I make play silks, I begin with white silk scarves–I personally purchase my scarves from Dharma Trading Company, but you can likely find white silk scarves in many places. They come in a huge variety of sizes, from these smaller scarves that I’m using in this particular project, to gigantic pieces perfect for a kid-made backyard tent.

Pre-wash your silk scarves in hot water, because any invisible oils or dirt on the scarves will hinder the dye.

When your scarves are clean but still wet, put a big pot on the stovetop and stir together two quarts of water, three packages of unsweetened Kool-aid in a single color, and one cup of vinegar. The vinegar’s purpose is simply to ensure that the Kool-aid is acidic enough to dye the silk, so it’s possible to leave it out if you prefer to experiment.

And yes, I know that you probably don’t actually let your kids DRINK Kool-aid, but consider that it is non-toxic and food-grade–for a fabric dye, that’s pretty great!

Heat the dye bath just to the boiling point, then turn it down so that it stays at a near boil.

source: craftingagreenworld.com

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