This week at camp my boys tie-dyed for the first time. Growing up this was one of my favorite camp activities! I attended summer camp from the time I was five until I was 15, and even after that I was a counselor. So seeing my little boys making their tie-dyed napkins at camp was definitely nostalgic for me.
In the past as an art teacher I have done tie-dying for field day. I did it with all 850 of my students! So this advice is for teachers or group leaders that are doing a tie-dye project with a large amount of kids. I hope these tips and tricks make it easier for you!
- Figure out where your T-shirts are going to come from. They need to be white T-shirts. Either the kids can bring them from home or see if there is a budget for these. The PTA might be able to come up with some money for it especially if it’s going to be a huge order of 500+ T-shirts.
- There are all kinds of dyesavailable. I recommend buying dye in large bottles rather than small spray kits. I used old-fashioned RIT dye from the corner market and it worked perfect!
- For sizing T-shirts the P.E. teachers held up T-shirt samples to each student as they did attendance and wrote down the size before ordering. This was a lot more efficient than waiting for a written slip from home.
- Have large buckets, rubber bands, and rubber gloves ready.
- You’ll need either a tarp or deep sink to place your buckets of dye. Another option if the weather is good is to work outside on grass.
- Have samples of different tie-dye techniques ready to show the kids. This is also really good opportunity to practice these techniques!
- Have the kids rubber band and fold their T-shirts on their own or with help from an adult.
- Place the T-shirts in the dye bath of their choice and once the dye has settled in put the T-shirts in plastic bags with the kids name on it to take home.
- Another option is to have the T-shirts placed in plastic bags per class and give them to the classroom teacher to allow dry or wash.
- With our T-shirts we used five colors of dye, however red white and blue works great or school colors is another option. Having limited colors can simplify and streamline the process. I do not recommend asking students to choose which color of dye they want-if you’re working with a huge group like I did that would take a lot of time!
I hope these ideas will inspire other art teachers and group leaders to have fun tie-dying with their students. My students always looked forward to this every year! They wore the T-shirts throughout the year, and they were always excited leading up to this project. Below I have included some pins for more tips, techniques, and inspiration!