Rainbow Spiral Tie Dye T-Shirt
You only need three colours of dye to create this amazing rainbow tie dye T-shirt. This is a brilliant project to work on with children too, as it can be used to teach about primary and secondary colours and colour mixing. Read on to see step by step instructions or scroll to the bottom to watch a video.
Peg the centre of your T-shirt with a clothes peg. You will need to choose a cotton T-shirt in order for the Procion MX Dyes to react properly. Make sure that you have both the front and the back of the shirt held in the peg.
Hold the peg and start to twist.
Tuck the fabric in and round as you go.
Tuck the ends round, making sure that they go in the same direction as the rest of the shirt.
Use elastic bands to hold the spiral together. Start by securing one band round the centre.
Add two more elastic bands, dividing the spiral into six equal parts.
Soak your tied up shirt in a soda ash solution. Use 1tbsp of soda ash for every litre of warm water needed to fill a bowl. Soak for at least 15 minutes.
The soda ash is the fixative that will make the T-shirt washable.
Meanwhile, mix up your dyes. You will need to mix up a bottle each of Turquoise, Fuschia and Lemon Yellow Procion MX Dyes: cold water dyes used for natural fibres. These are the bright primary colours for Procion Dyes: the fuschia is our red, turquoise is our blue and lemon is our yellow. For each bottle of dye, add 1tsp of dye to 200ml of warm water.
Use a funnel to decant the dyes into the squirty bottles. Shake to mix well.
These three dyes will create six colour segments. Each dye will be squirted into three segments. Every alternate segment will have two colours squirted into it, creating a secondary colour:
When your dyes are mixed and you T-shirt has been soaked you are ready to dye. Cover your table in a layer of cling film to protect it from the dye. Start by squirting the yellow dye into three of the segments (making a yellow half).
Turn the T-shirt over and fill in the same segments from the back. Be sure to quirt dye into the troughs of the fabric or you will be left with white gaps when it is untied.
Wipe the cling film clean in between each colour. Squeeze the fuschia dye into three segments, starting by overlapping the last yellow segment – this will create your orange. Dye both sides of the segments.
Clean your cling film again before using the turquoise dye. Squeeze the turquoise dye into the last three segments: the last of the fuschia segments, the empty segment and the first of the yellow segments.
You should be left with a shirt that looks something like this as the colours blend:
Clean your clingfilm for the last time and wrap your T-shirt up. Leave it for 24 hours for the dye to fix. Try not to move it too much as you don’t want the colours to mix.
After 24 hours, unwrap the shirt and, leaving it tied, rinse in cold water until the water runs clear.
Untie and wash with non-bio detergent to remove excess dye.
To make a rainbow tie dye T-shirt you will need:
- White cotton T-shirts
- Washing up bowl
- Elastic bands
- Soda ash
- Cling film
- Procion MX dyes in Lemon Yellow, Fuschia and Turquoise
- Clothes pegs
- Squirty bottles
- Non-bio detergent
- Rubber gloves
Watch a video of the whole process below:
This project is also available to download as a printable lesson plan.