I’ve never been very good at tie-dye. In fact, the last time I tried to tie-dye something, I ended up with a very disappointing off-white T-shirt while everyone around me was pulling out clothes with pleasant-looking spirals and stripes blended together. This has always been a little upsetting to me. Tie-dyeing is an essential part of childhood – nay, of life. I felt out of place somehow, like a fish out of water or mermaid in a desert.
In an effort to overcome my weaknesses by tackling them head-on (which I’m now realizing is a practice relevant to fears, but whatever), I decided to try my hand at tie-dye again, but this time, with a little more guidance. Published by Potter Craft, an imprint of Random House Inc., designer and artist, Shabd Simon-Alexander’s book Tie-Dye: Dye It, Wear It, Share It, provides a step-by-step guide to this popular art endeavor. Combining color theory with descriptions of the process itself, Simon-Alexander’s book gives a complete overview of tie-dyeing as an art. (You could win a copy by entering our giveaway below!) Unlike other craft books, which tend to advertise to children, Tie-Dye gives off a very professional feel and presents projects that most adults would be able to enjoy, including pillow covers, blankets, tunics, summer dresses, etc.
I decided to tackle two projects (you’ll find out why later). The first was to create a faintly-striped indigo button-down shirt that was supposed to look a little something like this:
Truthfully, finding a shirt that fit the criteria in my head was the hardest part. It was surprisingly difficult to find a plain, light gray, mostly cotton button-down shirt that was not over $30. When I finally found one for a fairly cheap price, I purchased it without realizing it was a few sizes too small for me. I moved forward with the understanding that I would give my final tie-dye product to my younger step-sister but that was the only real problem in that department.
After scanning my backyard for signs of bees and laying out all of the required materials, I sat down on my embarrassing Cars-themed blanket and began to dye. (Could I make a death pun here? Probably.) After following the specified measurements for the dye bath, I knotted the shirt according to the instructions, pulling it as hard as possible to ensure my frustration with it later, and dropped it in the bucket.
When I removed the shirt an hour or so afterwards and practically pulled a muscle trying to untie it, I found myself feeling very blue, and not just because my fingers had been permanently stained that color:
As it turns out, I hadn’t used enough powder in the bath, thus the color wasn’t dark enough to produce effective results. While I was kind of disappointed, I had made a delightfully blue shirt for my step-sister, which I’m sure she will be happy about.
And so, I embarked on another project with my newfound knowledge in mind. Rummaging through my drawers, I found a plain white t-shirt that I wasn’t particularly attached to and brought it out to my dyeing station. This time, I followed some of the more traditional tie-dyeing methods by scrunching up portions of the shirt with rubber bands, coloring the areas around the rubber bands with one color, then dunking the shirt back into the blue dye.
I was like 75% sure it wasn’t going to work. Not because the book was ineffective but because at this point I was convinced that any tie-dye project I touched would wither up and die in front of me. So, when the shirt came out looking like this, you can only imagine my excitement:
Look at that. Just look at it. It’s beautiful. I want to copy and paste that design onto my entire bedroom set. I want that design on my skin, on the walls of my house, in my veins. Too weird? I don’t care. I just successfully tie-dyed something and I’m prepared to announce it to the world.
Overall, my tie-dyeing experience went pretty well and I owe 90% of that to Alexander’s tie-dye book so props to her for that. If I gained more experience with tie-dye, I might want to attempt other projects in the book, like this Crystalline Scarf one, if I can find a silk scarf that does not cost me my life savings.
In any case, I would suggest to all of you to get out your old tie-dye kits and try your hand at some of these projects because contrary to popular belief, tie-die is not limited to T-shirts or the hippie movement.
More info about Shabd Simon-Alexander’s book here.
BONUS: We’re giving away a copy of this book to 10 lucky gigglers. Answer the following question in the comment section and you might be chosen as one of our winners!
If you are a lucky winner, which item are you looking forward to making first?