It's the summer holidays in New Zealand. Hooray!  But it's been stormy in our neck of the woods. As in you can't find the beach because the sand is covered in waves kind of stormy.  In my original homeland it's the winter holidays and it's been ridiculously cold. Extreme weather warning kind of cold with temperatures dipping to -40C with the windchill. No contest, it's NZ 1: Canada 0 in this particular weather war.  No matter the winner, neither is great for being outside for long periods of time.  

In anticipation of the summer holidays, I'd started another list of all the fun things we should do in case of inclement weather. Sadly, the list is lost under the piles of ongoing projects all over the house: the Lego pieces the kids have put together to make a marble run, the paper nautilus shells and obsidian we collected from Mayor Island, the knitted creatures, the double-paged mazes, the blankets from the couch forts, the painted rocks, the clay balls, not to mention the wet jackets and muddy gumboots draped here and there to dry.  

Luckily, on top of the chaos was a tie dye kit - a visual reminder of one of my rainy day ideas. We dug out some white clothing and set to work planning.  Sadie (5) immediately decided on a tie dyed heart pattern. Dan (7) took more time to decide, wavering between complex geometric shapes, like a star (is that even possible?!) and the classic swirl-spiral pattern. He practiced spinning his t-shirt into a swirl and drew chalk lines on his shirt to encourage a star shape, but he ultimately decided on the sunburst pattern curious about how it might turn out.  

The last time I tie dyed was over 20 years ago and the result was somewhat disappointing.  The colours ran and faded and the swirl pattern remained elusive to me.  I was hoping for better for my kids.  I won't keep you in suspense - both patterns worked beautifully! 

Here's how we did it:

I bought the Tulip one-step dye kit with 5 colours. In New Zealand, you can buy this at Spotlight. In Canada, it's available at Michael's. In shocking news, it's actually (slightly) less expensive in New Zealand!  

The kits includes: 

  • Dye (5 colours, 2 packets each)
  • Squirt bottles for dye
  • Gloves 
  • Elastics

You will also need:

  • Plastic bag
  • A sheet of plastic to protect your work surface (and tape to hold it down)
  • White clothing, natural materials. We used cotton and bamboo.  
  • Cold running water
  • Washing machine with hot water available
  • Laundry detergent

Tie Dyed Heart

  1. Wash clothing. Tie dye when still damp.
  2. Fold the shirt in half length-wise, matching the sleeves together.
  3. Using chalk draw half a heart on the t-shirt.  Exaggerate the curves of the heart.
  4. Fold along the chalk line, accordion-style, curving the shirt to keep the line straight.
  5. Tightly wrap a zip tie or elastic around the chalk line. Optional:  Add more elastics to the rest of the fabric for additional colours. The elastics can be arranged in the same orientation as the heart elastic making a concentric heart t-shirt.
  6. Dye the heart one colour only to ensure it stands out. Use another dye colour for the rest of the shirt.  Ensure dye goes into the folds, but not so much that they are dripping.
  7. Wrap clothing in a plastic bag.  Leave at least 6 hours or overnight. 
  8. The next morning or at least 6 hours later, remove item from bag.  Rinse in cold water.
  9. Remove zip ties or elastics. (If cutting zip ties, be sure not to damage the fabric!)
  10. Using hot water and a little bit of detergent, wash in the washing machine. 
  11. Hang to dry out of the sun.
  12. Wear it and love it!  Embrace your inner hippy :)  

Tie dyed starbursts

The starburst pattern is much more forgiving and free-range than the heart.  Follow the steps above, except when placing the elastics gather small bunches of fabric together anywhere you like.  

Project Update

Tie dying has turned out to be addictive and we've done another three rounds, expanding our project repertoire to include striped tights, bullseyes, crumples, and spirals.  The Tulip dyes come with instructions.  When in doubt, try youtube or get in touch and perhaps you can join us for tie dye round #5.