No Dye Tie Dye

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		 to see back of this shirtWe learned in another tie dye activity that this very old method of creating designs on fabric is done by binding or tying material. Then these areas resist the dye when the fabric is placed in a dye bath.

Another T-shirt decorating method, which will look similar when finished, can be done without using any dye at all. In this activity, we'll learn how to use permanent markers and rubbing alcohol to give new life to an old or stained T-shirt.

You Will Need:

How to:

Cover your work area with newspapers and a sheet of wax paper. Gather and bind the fabric in the usual way, and wearing gloves, use markers to color around the bands

Work area setupClick on image
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Shirt with wrapped marbles
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Applying markers

Spreading colors with alcohol

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				 on image to enlarge After coloring, use an eye dropper to apply rubbing alcohol to these areas, and watch the colors spread.
 When the designs are finished, remove the bands, and hang the shirt to dry. Iron to set the colors
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Tie Dye Patterns
The kinds of ties used and the ways in which they're placed on the fabric will determine the patterns. When creating with this technique, it's important to wrap rubber bands tightly around the material. Some of the tie-dye patterns possible include the following:

Overall Patterns

Tie the entire shirt in tight, overhand knots. Don't forget the sleeves! Click to enlarge image
Scrunch up the fabric and tie cords and rubber bands all over in a random pattern.Click to enlarge image
Gather the fabric at the neck and twist the tail until the shirt twists back onto itself. Now tie the shirt firmly with cords.
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Fold the fabric back and forth as if you're making a fan, and fasten with tie cords or rubber bands at intervals all along the body of the shirt. Repeat for the sleeves.


Circular Patterns

				 to enlarge the imageSunburst:

Pinch up a spot on the center in the front and/or back of the shirt and wrap and tie the material below it all the way down to make a bullseye or sunburst pattern.

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Tie Ins:
Tie in round objects, such as marbles, to make interesting patterns. Wrap rubber bands tightly around the marbles, and bunch them close together.Click
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There are many additional design possibilities. For variety, tie in objects such as stones, washers, nuts, and anything else that will resist the color and create a design. Another idea is to sew running stitches into the fabric, and then bunch it up by pulling on the thread. 

Tips and Tricks:

Wear rubber or latex gloves to protect hands from staining.

All natural fibers, such as 100% cotton, work best, but a combination of cotton and polyester can be used successfully. Use the method to recycle other items of clothing, men's handkerchiefs, or pillow cases. Decorate an old sheet, and then use the fabric as you would conventional yardage to make clothing or other items.

Experiment with a variety of rubber bands. The width of the band will determine the size of the area that will resist the color. Other than the rubber bands suggested here, try using fishing line, twine, elastic, dental floss, wire, and plastic wrap.

After ironing, rinse the shirt many times in hot water in order to remove excess color. It may be necessary to hand wash it a few times to guarantee that the colors won't bleed onto other clothing. If you prefer, hand wash separately.

Remember, reusing helps save landfill space and natural resources, so donate your outgrown clothing to charities, such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army. They'll see that people in need receive the items.

© 2008 Marilyn J. Brackney (updated 2018)

Volume 22 No. 4

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