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Sharpie Tie-Dye Shirts {Tutorial}

Lately Sawyer has been asking to tie dye another shirt (he’s done two previously), but I’ve been really hesitant because of the time and mess committment involved. These days it seems like every time we’re knee-deep in something super messy and complicated Simon decides to wake up from his nap after only 30 minutes. When I finally picked up some plain white t-shirts at Joann’s earlier this week it suddenly occurred to me that I had seen “tie-dye” with Sharpie markers done once in a long-forgotten blog post from last Summer. A quick internet search of the topic led me to Butterfly Jungle where they had made Sharpie tie dyed fireworks shirts for the 4th of July. Sounds perfect!
All you need are some permanent markers (we found that permanent markers from the Dollar Tree and Bic brand permanent markers worked a bit better than actual Sharpies), fabric/shirt and rubbing alcohol. We put a piece of cardboard inside of our shirts to prevent bleed through and then started by drawing a circular pattern of dots about the size of a quarter.
Using an eyedropper we dropped a bit of rubbing alcohol on to the center of our design and watched it spread out to create our “fireworks.”
The design will spread a bit slowly at first, but will eventually fan out as far as the alcohol has spread.
This one is mine :) I’m going to do some alterations to make the cut a bit more feminine before I rock this bad boy at the fireworks display show. After the alcohol has dried completely, be sure to iron your shirt to heat set the marker.
Sawyer added some circular fireworks and then decided to add some “fire bombs and sparklers” and stuff to it too. The Sharpie brand red marker ended up bleeding out a little more pink than he was expecting, but he still thinks his shirt is super cool.
Showing off his new fireworks shirt…okay, okay so they could be mistaken for flowers too, possibly…
…just don’t tell him that!
This activity was a ton of fun, and it required minimal mess, direction or intervention on my part. Now that we know how easy it was and how well it worked, we’re going to pick up a few more white shirts and attempt a more traditional looking tie dye pattern next time!

Comments

  1. love it!

  2. That is so cool and seems much easier than doing actual tie dye. Awesome. And Tie dye is in style right now too. Double awesome. I am excited to be following your blog now.

  3. Anonymous says:

    AWESOME!!!!

  4. Wow! I’ve never seen this before but I love this idea. Thanks for linking up with Fun for Kids Friday & Have a great weekend!

  5. Gorgeous shirt! Beautiful job!

  6. Wow, these turned out great! Must add this to my summer bucket list!

    Now following, and sharing on the Mama Pea Pod facebook page http://www.facebook.com/mamapeapod

  7. Anonymous says:

    Excellent will give it a crack at Kinder. I’m in Australia and absolutely love your site. Does anything else other than Alcohol work. Thx Wendy

  8. Please give us some tips on how you did the alterations to make your shirt more feminine?

  9. wow i really love this, im gonna do this project with my boys! thanks
    xoxo

  10. My daughter is always wanting to decorate shirts, she will love this!!! Thanks!

  11. As a sidenote, does it ruin the markers, or are they still useable????

  12. We made these and both times the sharpie washed out accept for the beginning dots. Both times I heat set the color using the dryer.. didn’t work! Will try the iron next time.

  13. I tried making pillowcases with my kids using the same idea. I heat set it with a iron, I even ran it trough a hot cycle in the dryer before I washed it for the first time and my colors still faded quite badly. It really only looks like an inside ring and an outside ring. Any ideas on what I could have done differently? I know you said sharpies didnt work to well for you but that was all I had, and they worked fine to make them they just didnt last when washed.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Oh my gosh this would be a wonderful family activity with the grand kids I can’t wait to try it!!!Thanks for the totally awesome idea.

  15. Does anyone know if vinegar works well for this?

  16. Anonymous says:

    How do you keep the colors from fading?

    I’m nervous to put a hot iron on the alcohol rich shirt. Fire? Has anyone had a bad experience with this?

    Someone mentioned soaking in salt water overnight, before washing with water only, then to dryer. Has anyone tried this?? Ty!!

  17. Anonymous says:

    I tye dye a lot and always soak my items in soda ash first it may work w/sharpies to help set the color

  18. This is really good design with tie dye kid’s apparel.Good job with good attempt.thank you.

  19. I like this concept of tie dye shirts
    . Its a nice gift for young child.

  20. We had wonderful time doing that, only after the first washing the pictures disapeared (we ironed it before), any ideas how to make it more durable?

  21. Anonymous says:

    Hello, could you please address the questions about colors fading? I made this shirt using a different tutorial, but I ironed and used the dryer and my colors washed through the back of the shirt ruining it. I would really like to try to save the front, because the colors are great and it took my daughter and I a long time to plan out how we wanted to arrange our colors. NOw I’m highly disappo0inted that this was all a big seeming waste of time.

    • I’m so sorry that it didn’t work for you. I’m not sure what the problem is since it seems to work for some people and not others. Our shirts have held up fairly well with only some minor fading, in fact, my son wore his that he made last year just yesterday. Perhaps it has something to do with the actual shirts that were used. Be sure to pre-wash all of your fabrics to remove any sizing or detergents present from manufacturing.

      Perhaps pre-soaking the shirt (and then allowing it to dry) in vinegar, soda ash or washing soda might help set the dye (like they do when tie dyeing shirts the traditional way). I’ve never had to use these methods, but they’d probably be a good place to start. Good luck!

    • Anonymous says:

      You may have better luck with the color if you use 100% cotton T-shirts. They seem to absorb the color and hold it better than a 50-50 fabic.
      I know that some people have also washed the garmet in salt water to set the color.
      Try it first on a sample/scrape piece of cotton and the salt water set.good luck….

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