Step-by-Step Tie Dye Instructions

Making tie dye shirts and other items is a craft activity that's been enjoyed at summer camps, in classrooms and at home for many years. This simple activity allows kids to create their own one-of-a-kind garments using basic supplies. In addition to creating a craft, making tie dye items as an educational activity helps children learn to follow step-by-step instructions to achieve a specific outcome.

Prepare the two fabric dye colours according to the directions on the packages. Add 1 cup of table salt to each bucket of dye to help preserve the colours. Fill the spray bottles with the two colours of dye.

Lay the cotton T-shirt on a work surface. Place a marble underneath the layers of the T-shirt. Grasp the marble from the top of the fabric, and tightly twist the fabric so that the marble is trapped at the top of the twist.

Secure the marble and the twist by wrapping a rubber band around the twisted portion of the fabric several times so that the fabric can't untwist and the marble doesn't fall out. Repeat steps 2 and 3 as many times as you wish, in varying places on the cotton T-shirt.

Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from the fabric dye. Choose the first colour of fabric dye, and spray it on the shirt, saturating each area you spray. By using spray bottles to apply the fabric dye, you have more control over where the colour goes, and you can create your own colour patterns.

Spray tie dye colour on both sides of the cotton T-shirt until you've achieved the colours you want. Place the T-shirt into a plastic zip bag, with the rubber bands and marbles still in place, and allow it to sit overnight.

Remove the tie dye shirt from the plastic zip bag, and rinse it under cool water. Continue rinsing until the water runs clear. Toward the end of the rinsing process, remove the rubber bands and marbles from the shirt.

Fill a bucket with cool water and 1 cup of white vinegar. Allow the tie dye cotton T-shirt to sit in the vinegar water for one hour. The vinegar sets the fabric dye colours so that they won't bleed in the wash.

Wash the shirt in cold water, then allow it to hang dry.


Add interest to the tie dye shirt by substituting coins or rocks for the marbles.


Fabric dye is permanent; be careful not to splash it onto your clothing or skin.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 buckets
  • 2 fabric dyes
  • 2 cups table salt
  • Spray bottles
  • Cotton T-shirt
  • Marbles
  • Rubber bands
  • Rubber gloves
  • 1 gallon plastic zip bag
  • 1 cup white vinegar
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About the Author

Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.