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Tie-Dye with All-Natural Dyes

Tie-Dye with All-Natural Dyes Activity

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All those items that stain your clothes can actually be used for a fun art creation..have your child use those staining items to make a natural dye for making her own tie-dyed clothes. Tie dying became popular in the 1960s, but using natural dyes has been around for thousands of years. Even fabric used in the tomb of King Tutankhamen was dyed using natural pigments!

What You Need:

  • White cotton clothing, like a plain T-shirt
  • White vinegar
  • 2 beets, chopped
  • Rubber bands
  • Large stockpot

What You Do:

  1. Before beginning to make the natural dye for the tie-dye, invite your child to prepare her item for dying. Unlike manufactured dyes, natural dyes need a little help setting in fabric. Creating a fixative for the fabric to soak in ensures the natural dye will set in the fabric. She can simmer her white cotton item in a mixture of four parts water to one part white vinegar for an hour in a stockpot and then rinse with cold water.
  2. Now it’s time to make her natural dye! There are several plant items that create colorful dyes. Onion skins make a yellow dye, beets a dark pink, red cabbage a purple, and blueberries a light blue, just to name a few.
  3. Start with beets, since they set into fabric easily. Invite your child to help chop the beets and place them in the stockpot. Now she can add 4 cups water and bring the dye to a simmer over medium heat.
  4. To create her tie-dye, encourage your child to pull and twist sections of her cotton material and then secure with tightly with wound rubber bands. She can keep twisting and tying until there’s no fabric left!
  5. Now she can carefully place her cloth in the dye and let it simmer for an hour. Then, she can turn off the heat and let the fabric sit in the dye until it comes to room temperature.
  6. Invite your child to remove her fabric and give it a good squeeze to release some of the dye. Now she can carefully remove the rubber bands and see what her fabric looks like!

Naturally-dyed fabric will be lighter once it’s dry, and should be laundered separately in cold water.

Sarah Lipoff has a K-12 Art Education degree and enjoys working with kids of all ages.

Updated on Dec 2, 2014
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See more activities in: Fifth Grade, Fabric Projects
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