Tie-Dye Shirts and their Cultural History

This post is sponsored by i Love To Create and Tulip Products.

Tie-dye shirts is a typical summer craft- from summer camps to driveway parties. But did you know that it is not a new invention? Even before the 1960s, tie-dye technique has roots in Indian bandhani and Japanese shibori. In both cases, the dyeing techniques involve binding areas of fabric before dyeing to create color patterns (much as it does today!). Learn about the history of tie-dye in other cultures, and tie-dye your summer!

Tie Dye Shirts Kids- Kid World Citizen

Japan: Shibori

In Japan, they have found the earliest known example of cloth dyed in a shibori technique, from the 8th century. In the shibori technique, the artist folds, twists, or bunches the cloth, often binding the cloth into place by stitching it. Traditionally, the shibori is dyed in indigo (check out the beautiful images here). The area of the fabirc that is bound will create the resistance,  where the dye doesn’t reach and the cloth remains white. There are many, many different ways to produce shibori, but with our kids we will use rubber bands.

India: Bandhani

Bandhani is another type of tie-dye, originating in the states of Rajasthan and Gujarat, in India (see images here). Women pull tiny bits of fabric up and bind them with thread. When dyed, the parts of the fabric behind the thread will not absorb the dye and will resist the color. The main colors in bandhani are yellow, red, blue, green and black.

Our Tie-Dye!Tie Dye kids- Kid World Citizen

We used Tulip Tie-Dye, which is packaged to have the powdered dye already in each squeeze bottle (my kids said “like ketchup bottles!”). All you have to do is add water and shake- very easy!

For our tie-dye, we used string and rubber bands to bind the fabric after rolling and folding. The kids were very creative, creating funny-looking t-shirts tied up and down with the bands. We had spirals, stripes (at right), polka dots, and crazy designs.

Most of the kids used white tshirts, but we had a couple of kids who used yellow or pink. This is an awesome craft to upcycle shirts with tiny stains, or to spruce up a plain shirt.

Tie Dye for Kids- Kid World Citizen

Next, we had the kids put on rubber gloves (which come in the Tulip Tie-Dye kits). The tie-dye nowadays comes in handy squeeze bottles- it’s not the powder of my childhood that we mixed in huge buckets!:) Everyone added the color dye to their tshirts, designing the color schemes.

Once the dye was applied, we wrapped the shirts in saran wrap, and let them sit until the next day. In the morning, we unwrapped them, rinsed well with the hose, and then wash them on the hot cycle of the washer. I usually wash them the first couple of times with each other or bright clothes so the dye doesn’t bleed.

The Big Reveal

Tie Dye Kids Activity- Kid World Citizen


How cute did these turn out??? My kids love art projects they can wear, and these tshirts are the perfect example.

If you’d like to see more fabulous tie-dye projects, check out “I Love to Create” on facebook, twitter, pinterest, and their blog. Also discover many more tie-dye projects in our linky:

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