Tie Dye Party!

Will and my seventh anniversary is tomorrow!  I can’t believe it has been seven years.  The time seems to have flown by.  I am going to get all cheesy for a minute.  I know people say this all the time, but I’m so lucky to have married my best friend.  Seriously though I don’t know what I’d do without that guy.  On top of our anniversary, Julius turned 9 months old last week!  Someone told me a while ago that once you have kids there is a phenomenon referred to as “long days, short years”.  The premise is basically that you are so tired and exhausted every day that the day seems to stretch on forever.  Once you look back, however, it seems like the time just flew by.  I guess if those seven years flew by, we’re going to be approaching light speed.

Anyway, I have to get this post up so I can go work on Will’s anniversary gift.  (If it gets done I’m sure I’ll have a post coming.)  As promised, I’m going to tell you all about our latest ladies’ night!

Julius showing off a masterpiece.

Tie Dye Party

For ladies’ night this month we had a tie dye party!  It looked like everyone had a lot of fun, and though a few people claimed their shirts didn’t come out great, I think they all came out spectacular.  I really love the mystery that comes with shibori or tie dye.  No matter how close you match the steps of folding, binding and dyeing, each piece will be utterly unique.

Tie dye results

Tie Dye Activity Setup

What You’ll Need:

(For a party size of 10):

  • 2 tsp each of 6 colors of fiber reactive dye (Procion MX)
  • 3 quarts of chemical water stock solution
  • 6 – 2 cup Plastic condiment bottles
  • ~100 elastics of varying sizes and thicknesses (I got mine from dollar tree)
  • 10 to 20 100% cotton white t-shirts (I got them on sale at Joann Fabrics for $3 a piece!)
  • 2 to 4 cups of baking soda or soda ash (depending on number of shirts)
  • 10-20 gallon zip lock bags (depending on number of shirts)
  • A box of disposable vinyl gloves (I’m really sorry Earth :() – I got mine for $5 at Walmart for 100 gloves
  • 2 large buckets
  • tables covered with disposable tablecloths
  • Synthrapol or a pH neutral detergent

The night before: wash your shirts in synthrapol or other pH neutral detergent and dry.  Using a mask, eye protection and gloves, mix up 3 batches of chemical water and refrigerate.  Also measure out 2 tsp of dye into each plastic condiment bottle, cover, and label the bottle with permanent marker.

Before guests arrive: Set up two tables out of doors with plastic tablecloths.  Place buckets, elastics and gloves on one table, and bottles of dye on the other.  Fill each bucket  halfway full of water & baking soda – 1/2 cup of baking soda per gallon of water.  Stir until baking soda dissolves. (I used 2 gallons of water per bucket.)  Divide the shirts into the two buckets, soaking them for at least 15 minutes and moving them around occasionally.  Pour a small amount of chemical water into each bottle of dye, replace cap and shake gently to mix.  Fill each bottle with additional chemical water to total 2 cups, and gently rock back and forth to stir.

Filling my dye bottles with chemical water.

Shirts soaking and dyes ready.

Shirts soaking.

Food Preparation

Ladies waiting to dig in


  • Hamburgers (either buy your favorite frozen variety or form 80/20 ground beef into patties yourself)
  • Veggie Burgers (I use red pepper instead of green and add 1/2 cup of corn for texture)
  • Toppings: Buns, Cheese (American & Pepper Jack go well with both), Avocado, Tomato, Onion, Homemade Pickles, Lettuce, Mustard & Ketchup
  • Potato Salad
  • Fruit Salad (this time the seasonal fruits were: cantaloupe, watermelon and blueberries but I change this up depending on what the farmer/grocery store has)
  • Peanut Butter Brownies

A week before: Prepare veggie burgers and freeze.  Prep the homemade pickles (I use the recipe above and omit the sugar).  I always have a batch on hand in the summer, but you could just as easily serve your guests your favorite jarred variety.

The night before: Form ground beef into patties and refrigerate.  Prepare potato salad and refrigerate. Make peanut butter brownies.

Before guests arrive: Chop tomato, onion and lettuce and place them on a serving platter with the other toppings. Cut up brownies and place on a platter.  Preheat the grill and oil a sheet of aluminum foil for the veggie burgers.

As guests arrive: Set out condiments, salads and brownies.  Grill burgers to your preference, and tent them with foil until they’re all ready to serve.

Potato Salad, Fruit Salad, burgers and all the fixings.

The Party

Serve dinner while the shirts are soaking.

After dinner have everyone don their gloves and leave their beverages inside.  Each person should ring out their shirt until damp but not sopping wet.  At this point you can choose from many techniques to bind your shirt (or make up your own method).  Make sure guests fold and bind on one table and dye on the other or you’ll end up with a mess!  When they are done dyeing, place each bound shirt into a plastic zip lock bag, removing as much air as possible.

Ladies get down to business

I give a brief tutorial on some tie dye techniques. (Is it just me, or does everyone look overwhelmed?!)

I tie dyed my shirts two ways.  First via the traditional spiral pattern.  To make a spiral, pinch the shirt in the middle and turn, tightly twisting the fabric around the center point.  At the end you should have a disk like shape.  Bind the spiral disk with elastic across the circle, dividing the disk into “slices” like a pie.  Fill each slice with one color of dye on both the front and back side of the disk.

Pink Spiral before.

Pink Spiral after

The second method I used was similar to the triangle folding method I used in this post.  Instead of a triangle I folded my shirt into squares, accordian style, then I bound the shirt with 4 elastics, near the edge of the square on each side, forming a shape like a frame.  I covered each edge of the “frame” (on both sides) with dye, overlapping on the corners.  I left the center of the square blank.

Multicolor square before

Multicolor square after

Let guests take their shirts home in the zip lock bags with the following instructions for washing:

“Batch” the shirts (keep them in the plastic bag so they stay wet) for 24 hours at a temperature of 70 deg F or above.  Then air dry your shirt.  When dry, rinse in lukewarm water (until the water runs clear – I cheat and use the rinse cycle on my washing machine) followed by a hot machine wash with Synthrapol or other neutral detergent (AND NOTHING YOU CARE ABOUT DYEING).  Rinse with warm water.  Dry.  At this point the dye should be set.  

Some finished shirts packaged in zip locks.

Happy Dyeing!

Piper and Kathy model some sweet designs!

Evan and Andrew are sure to love the matching shirts Laura made them!

Em pulled off some stylish shirts

Vicky looks like she likes the onesie Ka made her!

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2 Responses to Tie Dye Party!

  1. Kaaaaa says:

    OMG so much fun. And OMGGGG happy anniversary!! 😍

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