How to make a tie dye camouflage T-shirt

Written by lisa huddleston
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How to make a tie dye camouflage T-shirt
Use special tie-dye techniques to achieve a camouflage effect. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Skip the military surplus suppliers and create a shirt that touts your own personal flair. Tie-dye is a time-honoured tradition, dating back almost 6,000 years. In the UK, tie-dye is most associated with the 1960s. Now the popular style from decades ago has re-emerged.

Things you need

  • 1 tbsp bronze dye powder
  • 2 squirt bottles
  • Funnel
  • Olive green dye powder
  • Black dye powder
  • 55 g (1/4 cup) soda ash dye fixer
  • 410 g (1 1/2 cups) noniodized salt
  • Gloves
  • Rubber bands
  • 100 per cent cotton T-shirt
  • Bucket
  • 1 litre (1 quart) container
  • Dust sheet or large piece of plastic
  • Wire rack
  • 110 g (1/2 cup) Synthrapol detergent
  • 55 g (1/4 cup) regular washing powder
  • Washer and dryer

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  1. 1

    Wet the T-shirt and wring it out.

  2. 2

    Spread a dust sheet or a large piece of plastic on the work area. Put on the gloves. Dissolve 1 tbsp of bronze dye powder and 410 g (1 1/2 cups) of noniodized salt into a bucket containing 13.5 litres (3 gallons) of hot water. Place the shirt into the water.

  3. 3

    Dissolve 55 g (1/4 cup) of soda ash into 1 litre (1 quart) of hot water. Stir the soda ash solution into the dye bucket. Soak the shirt in the dye bucket for at least 20 minutes. For a bolder bronze colour, soak a little longer.

  4. 4

    While the shirt is soaking, prepare the olive green and black dye. To prepare the olive green dye, take the cap off a squirt bottle and insert a funnel. Use the funnel to add dye powder. Follow the ratio of 1 tbsp of dye powder for every 473 ml (16 oz) of water. Fill the bottle to the halfway mark. Swirl the bottle to mix the dye into water. Finish filling the bottle with water and put the cap on. Shake the bottle to mix the dye further until dry particles are no longer visible. Repeat the process to prepare the black dye.

  5. 5

    Take the shirt out of the soda ash and bronze dye solution. Wring out the shirt, but do not rinse it. Lay it onto a flat protected surface. To create a camouflage style, place your fingers wide onto the shirt, then use them to repeatedly scrunch up the fabric. Keep scrunching the fabric until it forms into a round bundle. Then put rubber bands around the bundle to hold the bundle together.

  6. 6

    Randomly apply the olive green dye and the black dye throughout the bundle. Use more olive green dye than black. You can use the spout of the squirt bottle to squeeze dye in between the folds of the fabric.

  7. 7

    Place bundle on wire rack. Allow 12 to 18 hours to dry.

  8. 8

    Fill your washing machine with hot water and add 110 g (1/2 cup) of concentrated washing powder (specially formulated for rinsing freshly tie-dyed garments, such as Synthrapol, PROsapol or Dharma Professional Textile Detergent). Cut the rubber bands off the T-shirt and then place the T-shirt in the washing machine. Make sure the T-shirt is fully submerged. After the washing machine completes its cycle, run the washer again with 55 g (1/4 cup) of the special concentrated washing powder and 55 g (1/4 cup) of regular washing powder.

  9. 9

    Place the T-shirt in the dryer. Once dry, it is ready to wear.

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