Dip-dyed shirts have become quite the fashion trend. And like all fashion trends, it can be kind of expensive to purchase the designer and specialty versions of these chic shirts. Here is our Shirts in Bulk tutorial for our crafty fashionistas on how to dip-dye shirts at home.To start, you will need some fabric dye. Check the package ahead of time to see if it will need something extra added, like salt. Make sure you have a shirt! Any cotton or blended shirt will work well. The most fun part is selecting shirts to dip-dye. V-neck and scoop neck tops are a more stylish casual selection. Believe it or not, denim shirts can be dip-dyed with these same steps!
Since this process involves fabric dye, you will want to take proper precautions to safeguard your workstation from stains. Any bucket will work well, but a stainless steel sink is the ideal workspace when using dyes.
Make sure ahead of time to have a plan for where to put the shirt when it is drying so you will not have to scramble to find a safe place while you are holding the wet shirt! Have a plan to hang it up outside or indoors over the sink or a surface covered with something disposable like a garbage bag. If there is no good place to hang it up, clear a tabletop or counter space and cover it with a garbage bag, as the color will be fine against its surface. This way your workspace is protected from any dyes if the shirt drips as it is drying.
If you are working in a sink, plug the sink and fill it with water. Fill it up only a few inches depending upon the amount of fabric that will be dyed. Follow any special instructions on the package for preparing the dye. Do not mix in all of the dye to start off with, as you will want to add more later on in the process to achieve the darkest shades at the bottom.
The dip-dye look is best achieved by dipping the shirt into the dye multiple times to get many light layers. So once you are all ready to go, hold the shirt by the shoulders above the dye and gradually lower it into the sink. To make it easier, use a hanger so you only have to hold it with one hand. If you are dipping the shirt so the shoulders or possibly the left or right side will be the darkest, use a pants hanger with clips to secure the dry end.
For the next layer, do not dip it as high up on the shirt as the first time, and this time leave it in the mix for a little bit longer. Lower the shirt in the water and count to ten while moving the shirt around slightly to avoid making a harsh and obvious line of color. While creating these middle layers, it is okay to take the shirt out and dip it back in for longer if the color comes out lighter than desired.
Repeat this step for middle levels of color as many times as you would like. It is recommended, and much simpler for a shirt, to keep it to three or four main dips. At any point, add more dye to darken the shade. Always be careful not to add too much, as this might make the color changing of the end product look less gradual. If you do add too much, you can always dip the shirt back up to the highest point again to darken the lightest shade.
For the bottom of the shirt, add a little more dye to give it a dark and saturated look. Lower the shirt back into the mixture less deep than the last time and make sure to move the shirt around a little so a line does not appear. It may take as long as a minute to achieve the darkest shade, just keep checking and decide when it looks best to you.
Once the color is to your liking, move the shirt to the pre-designated protected surface to dry. Let it dry over night to ensure the colors have been completely absorbed. Once it is ready, wash the shirt with your regular detergent, let it dry again, and you are all set to wear your homemade fashion!
Follow these instructions, and you will be fine throughout the process. If you are nervous about the dyes and getting the right gradual levels, try this on a couple of rags first or have multiple shirts on standby in case one does not turn out as planned. Once you are confident in your dip-dye skills, get creative and try it on other items like tote bags, towels, and even pants. And if you’re looking for more projects, check out our article archives, where you’ll find out how to Tie-Dye a shirt!