Q: What do you get is you cross two rather greying PE T-shirts with a rainy afternoon, a pot of clothes dye and some rubber bands. A: An afternoon’s worth of entertainment for the kids!
The PE t-shirts were fit for nothing; a years worth of PE lessons left them more grey than white. I’d tried bleaching them and had been left with yellow streaks. Yes, an attempt at tie dying was the only solution. Well, it was that or dusters, and I don’t dust if I can help it…..
I’d had a go at tie dyeing before, when my sister kindly gave me some maternity wear that was completely the wrong colour for me. That time I had used a red washing machine fabric dye (i.e. no standing around required) to convert the cool blue dresses to a more flattering purple shade.They may still be worn by someone for all I know, as I later passed them on to pregnant friend.
The kids finally agreed on Forest Green and this time I chose a multipurpose dye for this somewhat smaller task. Whatever type of dyeing you choose, the clothes will always need to be damp before they are dyed and so must be washed even if they are new. Next is the fun bit – adding the rubber bands! This is a little tricky but not impossible for a 6 year old and eventually most of our brand new pack of rubber bands was around the t-shirts. Next we had to put the t-shirts in a dyeing vessel – in this case a non-stick casserole which I harbour a fantasy of replacing. The casserole was completely unharmed by the experience, I regret to say.
All you have to do is cover the t-shirts in water, dissolve the dye in 1 pint of boiling water and add to the pan. Finish off with some salt – very important as this fixes the dye, otherwise all your hard work will be lost the first time you wash your t-shirt.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.The next instruction is ‘rinse until the water runs clear’. At this point I must confess that I soon became bored of that and put them in the rinse and spin cycle of the washing machine.
Then it was the moment of truth, our work was finally to be unveiled. The anticipation was palpable as the rubber bands were removed one by one and the results revealed. The excitement on the children’s faces as their designs appeared was the best moment of the afternoon. As I hung the t-shirts up to dry with the promise of ‘of course you can wear them tomorrow’ (assuming they are dry by then) the ‘wow’s were still ringing in my ears.
We used a Dylon dye which is available in John Lewis stores and many other hardware and haberdashery stores and departments. Buoyed up by this success, I am now desperate to try something a little more advanced – one of the tie dye kits which allow you to do multicoloured designs such as this kit available at Amazon.co.uk.
About the Author: Jacqui O'Brien is the Editor of eParenting.