When you think of custom t-shirts made using tie-dye, you may think of hippies in the sixties. Tie-dye actually began in its traditional form in the sixth century in Japan, India and Africa. In fact, the oldest form of tie-dye was started in India and is still practiced today. It involves tying the garment with thread and then dip-dying it. The result is a solid color with small dots making up larger designs. During the 1960s, tie-dye became popular among young Americans as a way to express themselves.
Today, tie-dye is enjoying a resurgence in popularity and is once again a way for people to express themselves using custom t-shirts. Tie-dye can even be applied over the top of a shirt that has been screen printed, allowing further customization. It is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to add color to your wardrobe.
It is best to work with a t-shirt that is 100% cotton since this will absorb the dye better, resulting in brighter colors. Wet the shirt thoroughly with warm water and wring out the excess. Lay your shirt on a flat surface and begin tying. There are many different ways to tie your shirt, but if you want to make one with a spiral pattern, use your thumb and forefinger to pinch the center of the shirt. Begin twisting while holding the fabric until the entire shirt is twisted. Once you have a tight twist, secure the shirt with elastics.
You can apply your dye one of two ways. If you want a brighter dye over a large area, dip your custom t-shirts into a bucket filled with dye. If you want more control over where the dye is going, use a squirt bottle to apply the dye directly to the fabric. Experiment with different colors and watch as the colors combine to form new ones. This is where your elementary education on color mixing can come in handy. You really only need 3 colors to make a whole rainbow: red, yellow and blue.
After you have applied your dye to your custom t-shirts, wrap them in a plastic bag and let them sit for around 24 hours to allow the dye to penetrate the fabric. When the time is up, take the elastics off the shirts and rinse them thoroughly with cold water. Wash them in your washing machine using cold water and a little bit of detergent.
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