UPDATED (ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED JUNE 8, 2020 4:17 PM)
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A popular activity at birthday parties, tie-dyeing is an approachable craft for all ages that results in fun, wearable art. While the vibrant, psychedelic designs we are most familiar with today hark back to 1960s counterculture, the history of resist dyeing dates back thousands of years, with varying techniques used to color textiles around the world. A practice that cultivates happy accidents, tie-dyeing encourages experimentation with patterns and dye applications. Material can be folded, twisted, or bound using household items such as rubber bands, clothespins, Popsicle sticks, and thread to create a unique resist pattern. Though T-shirts are most commonly used, there is no shortage of options for what can be dyed, from socks and dish towels to bags and pillowcases. For best results, stick with natural fibers such as cotton, silk, and linen and stay away from synthetic materials, which may not dye well. Our picks below will help you find the best tie-dye kit for your needs.
1. Jacquard Tie Dye Kit
This tie-dye kit from Jacquard, a trusted brand for professional results, will help you create unique designs in intense, long-lasting colors. The kit includes dye, vinyl gloves, rubber bands, squirt bottles, soda ash, and an instructional DVD and brochure. The red, yellow, and blue dye can be mixed together to create any variety of color combinations, and you get enough to color up to 15 adult T-shirts. This kit does require one more step than others: presoaking fabric in a soda ash mixture that acts as a dye fixative, for superior color retention and highly vibrant hues that are machine washable.
2. Tulip One-Step Tie-Dye Kit
Great for all ages, the Tulip One-Step Tie-Dye Kit includes 14 bright dye colors in 18 easy-squeeze bottles, enough for up to 36 projects. You also get gloves, rubber bands, a plastic surface cover, and a step-by-step guide with fun project ideas. No presoaking is necessary; just add water to the highly concentrated dyes. Colors are machine-washable and permanent.
3. Royi Tie Dye DIY Kit
A great choice for group activities, the Royi tie dye kit includes plastic gloves, aprons and rubber bands. With 26 colors ranging from light to dark, there will be no shortage of color combinations for endless experimentation. The dyes come in easy-to-use squeeze bottles; just add water to create vibrant, machine-washable designs. No presoaking is necessary, and the dyes are kid-friendly and safe for use under adult supervision.
4. Indigo & Shibori Natural Dye Kit
This is an excellent choice for those wanting to create indigo-dyed pieces inspired by shibori, a traditional Japanese resist-dyeing technique. The kit includes materials for one vat of indigo mixture that will be enough to dye five pounds of fabric. It also supplies heavy-duty gloves to protect hands, illustrated instructions, and clamps and cords that can be used to create traditional shibori designs. The kit is a great option for those who shy away from the technicolor dye kits and prefer to experiment with a more refined technique.
5. SEI Tumble Dye
A ready-to-use kit of SEI Tumble Dye colors are premixed in convenient spray bottles for easy application. With eight vibrant colors, this kit provides enough water-based dye to color up to 32 shirts. The dye can be sprayed on wet fabrics to create a traditional tie-dye appearance or used with a stencil on dry fabric for a controlled design. No dunking or wringing is necessary—once the fabric is air dried, dyes can be heat set using an iron or clothes dryer for a result that is permanent and machine washable.