Dyeing for Summer

Summer has either come early this year, or else we’re getting a really long teaser before the spring blizzards come. It could go either way.

My girls (who do actually have heads) haven’t been terribly interested in wearing turtlenecks and sweatshirts lately, so I figured it was time to do something about their summer wardrobe. Between our crummy well water and spills, I know better than to spend a lot of money on their clothes. Whites and pastels are not popular around here, because they quickly become dingy and acquire stains from eating and gardening. I don’t much care for dressing my kids in dark solids either. So I decided to buy some cheap white t-shirts, and then dye them and embellish with the iron-ons I’ve been collecting. Now that my craft room is organized, I can actually find them.

Now, I could have just dyed the shirts in solid colors, but I figured a multi-colored, mottled look would hide stains much better. Plus, I could turn this project into a nice homeschooling lesson about colors if we did some color mixing. I did a Google search for “low-water-immersion dyeing tutorial”, and found this Youtube video.

I got out my handy-dandy wide-mouth pint canning jars, some rubber gloves, measuring cups and spoons, pitcher and washing soda. I let the girls decide which colors they wanted on each shirt, then sent them off to play while I mixed up the dyes (I love my kids, and I like to spend quality time with them, but no way was I going to deal with dye splattered all over them, me, the laundry room and who knows where else).

I washed and dried the shirts to remove the sizing and to get the shrinkage over with, then ran them through the rinse/spin cycle to pre-wet them. Then I scrunched each shirt into a canning jar. I dissolved 1 cup of washing soda in a gallon of warm water, and poured some of the solution (maybe 1/2 cup?) over each shirt.

Next, it was time for the messy part. I carefully (ok, sloppily) poured a little dye into one side of the jar, let it soak through the shirt to the bottom (or not) and then poured in the next color(s). Once I had several shirts colored, I filled the jars to the top with more of the washing soda solution, and put the lids on –not because the lids are necessary for successful dyeing, but because I wasn’t looking to dye my concrete floor.

After I had all 22 shirts colored, I let them sit for an hour (or maybe two, who keeps track?) and then called the girls in for the fun part.

One by one, The Taterbug handed me jars, and Boodie stood on a step stool to watch as I rinsed the excess dye from the shirts.

We talked about how some of the colors had mixed together to make new colors, and how some of the black dye “split” into blues and reds instead of staying black like we had expected.

At this point, I should mention that there are ways to keep that splitting business from happening, but I didn’t bother with such details. Fortunately, the girls don’t care. They are just excited that Mommy made them shirts to wear.

Anyhow, after a lot of rinsing, I sorted the shirts by colors and tossed them into the washer to get the last of the dye out. Once dry, I decided they’d make a nice cheerful picture if I hung them up on the clothesline:

After the girls completed their morning chores, we got out the ironing board and began decorating the shirts. They chose from an assortment of transfers, appliques and rhinestone iron-ons.

Now, please excuse me while I go get my sunglasses. It’s going to be a very bright summer.

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3 Responses to Dyeing for Summer

  1. Jodie says:

    Those are adorable. I like the purple ones!

  2. Becky G. says:

    I love these! They turned out great!
    I am a new follower of your blog–found you through Sew Many Ways. I am really liking it a lot. Sooo impressed with how organized you are getting! Organizing is one of my favorite things to do, but not always so good at it. Working on that. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Pingback: I Love Canning Jars! |

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