D-I-Y Dip-Dye Shirt

Have you seen those cute ombré dip-dyed shirts that are popular right now? I decided I wanted to try to make one! I just happened to have a white shirt that I don't wear very often, and I thought it would work really well for this project.

I opted for pink, which just happens to be my favorite color. I wanted to use liquid dye, but my Kroger only had powder - and very limited colors. So if you decide to try this, do yourself a favor and stop by Walmart or Target, because I'm betting they will have a wider selection. Yes, I could've waited to go there. Yes, I'm impatient. When I want to do something, I want to do it now. Whatever.

I gathered all the necessities:
  • shirt
  • skirt hanger
  • plastic shoebox
  • measuring spoons/cups
  • Rit dye
  • salt
  • laundry detergent
  • rubber gloves
  • hot water

I know. It looks like a lot. But it's really easy. I promise!!

The instructions for the dye tell you that a single box will dye 1 lb. of dry fabric. I weighed my shirt and it only weighed 3.4 oz. I decided rather than trying to divide the powdered dye into fourths, I would just go ahead and use half a box. There are 2 TBSP. of powdered dye in the packet) - so I used 1 TBSP. of powdered dye.

First, you need to dissolve the dye - so I added the powder to 1 cup of very hot water, stirred carefully, and sat it aside. Then I poured 3 quarts of very hot water into the plastic shoebox, and added 1/2 TBSP. liquid laundry soap and 1/2 c. salt, stirring gently until the salt was dissolved.

Next, I prepared the shirt. I rinsed it in warm water, squeezed to removed the excess water, then folded it to make it easier to dip into the dye. I straightened the sleeves and folded them lengthwise with the shirt - then I started at the hem of the shirt and folded it until it was the right length to hang from the hanger into the dye bath - then clipped on the hanger.

Then it was time to add the dissolved dye to the water/salt/sop solution. Pour the dye in slowly so it doesn't splash anywhere. I stirred gently with  metal spoon to make sure the dye was evenly mixed.

I worked on my kitchen counter, because the cabinets were just the right height for the shirt to hang into the dye. So I hung the hanger on the cabinet handle, then slowly dipped the top of the shirt into the dye. Here's where you use your own judgment. How little or how much of the shirt you dip is up to you! I dipped about 6-8" of the shirt and let it sit for about 10 minutes. You'll be able to see the dye seep up into the fabric because it was dampened.

After 10 minutes, I dipped about 6-8 more inches of the shirt into the dye bath. I was hoping this would give me even more of a gradient tint - with the shoulders of the shirt being the darkest, then the upper chest and sleeves being a shade lighter, and the bottom of the shirt staying white. I let the shirt sit in the dye for 5 minutes.

I carefully moved the shirt & dye bath to the sink where I removed the shirt, gently poured the dye down the drain, and then ran warm water over the shirt until the water ran clear. Once that occurred, I changed the water temp to cold and continued to rinse for a few more minutes.

For the last step, I washed the shirt (by itself) in cold water in the washing machine, then dried it in the dryer.

I'm pretty pleased with the way it turned out. Since I still have half the dye left, I want to do a t-shirt for summer.

One thing I noted - there was a visible line from the first 10 minute dip, so if you want a softer gradient, I recommend that you dip the shirt up and down in the dye or gently pour the dye on the fabric right at the dye bath level so that it makes the tint more "uneven" rather than the "straight line" of the dye bath. Make sense?

So next time, I'll be sure to dip the shirt up and down during the first dye bath in order to avoid a harsh line. I know it's not really that noticeable once the shirt is on, but since it's easily fixed, I want to fix it next time. But remember - there is no right or wrong. The little "imperfections" are what make your garment unique!

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