Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sharpie Tie Dye Method: 10 Tips

The Sharpie Tie Dye method is not at all original to me.  I've seen it around Pinterest a lot, and as far as I can tell the first person to do the sharpie tie dye method was Steve Spangler Science. But it was the first time for us, and we enjoyed the results so much I just have to share!

What worked well for us:

1.  Use small cups and a rubber band that fits tightly.
2.  Experiment with the different sharpie colors.  Some bleed more than others.  Some leave a more distinct line.  (We found that our blue pens didn't bleed much, but the purple and yellow spread quite far)
3.  Use a paintbrush to dab on the rubbing alcohol rather than a eye dropper .  The color bleeding is easier to control if you use less alcohol.  Only use rubbing alcohol that is 70% alcohol or higher.
4.  Wait for the alcohol to dry almost completely before you remove the rubber band.  If you remove it too soon the colors will bleed beyond the circle.
5.  Pay attention to what colors are next to one another.  Those colors will mix, and it is too easy to end up with ugly browns if you don't pay attention.
6.  Leave lots of white space between colors.
7.  Symmetry in the sharpie design makes for a more attractive circle.
8.  Flower designs look especially pretty.
9.  When you are done with one circle, start the next circle in a very different part of the fabric.  If your rubber band cinches a circle that is still wet, it will mess up the design.
10.  There is lots of patience and waiting required for this craft.  Watch a movie at the same time so you don't get impatient!

Have you tried the sharpie tie dye method yet?  What tips could you share?  We'll probably be doing this again, and would love to have some new ideas.  


All Things Beautiful said...

It makes sense that some colors would spread further than others, for it is basically chromotography!

Patmagill said...

Love this craft. Great for the kids to make and proud to wear!!

Sue said...


Katey said...

That's a good point...I should look into the science of it to make it more educational!

pep real said...

I've never tried this before, but it sure looks like a lot of fun.  I'm sure my daughter will love this :)

Sheila Morton said...

I used to do this at summer camp, but instead of doing small circles over a cup, we would color a 2 inch block on an old margarine container (freezer paper works too), then spray the lid with rubbing alcohol and roll the shirt or whatever over it. Made it a more authentic tie dye look. If there was extra color on the lid, spray again with alcohol and roll again. Do over and over again until you have done the entire piece and rinse in cold water once, let dry. Did bandana's for the kids, and did shirts for the leaders. I still have a bunch of bandana's for the dog to wear.

Deanna said...

we've done this before- i was thinking of doing it in black for our annual upcoming chickfila dress like a cow day attire. 
My 2 cents: red sometimes turns pink and makes little boys blue *grin*. And if they make one for mommy I do not advise 2 right over the . . umm . . boobage area. (yes, that is the voice of experience you hear and yes, my husband laughed himself silly because i did not even notice and had been wearing it all day)

Sarah Hazel said...

Has anyone ever tried this with muslin and sprayed the alcohol with a spray bottle instead of painting or dripping it on? I would like to get a much larger design on the fabric in order to create fabric to use for appliques of a specific design onto a t-shirt. Before I re-invent the wheel, I wanted to see if anyone had tried this in the past! Thanks!

Sue said...

These instructions don't say...do you prewash shirt....do you heat set with your iron..how do you get the colors to not wash out? My granddaughter and I did this and it looked awful after it was washed :(

Renae Misner said...

Sue, I want to do this project/expierement with my boys but like you, I do not want to be disappointed. I've looked into it and on the Steve Spangler Science website it says to pre-wash the shirts and then after you are done sharpie dying the shirts you should put them in the dryer for 15 minutes to set the color. Maybe try it again and see what happens, I guess this is what science is all about anyway... expirementation! Good luck!

Ariana said...

We did it fairly quickly...once each circle was done bleeding, we blasted it with a hairdryer. A few seconds later, we could move onto the next circle. Pretty fun!

Elena Sullivan said...

My name is Elena and I am curating a collection of Sharpie projects for Looksisquare(dot)com. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Looksi but it’s a lot like CraftGawker: they display a thumbnail image from your blog along with a short description and a link back to your original project. Typically you would submit your own images (like you do on CraftGawker) but they also have curators (like myself) who do theme based round ups. I think your tie-dye would be perfect for my collection which will be published this Friday. Please let me know if you *don’t* want it included so I can remove it.

Susanna said...

Hi. We are doing a Sharpie tie dye workshop at the Charlotte Library. May I use one of your pictures on our website?

Anita said...

I find an ear syringe at the dollar store works great instead of an eye dropper that is hard to find.

Katey M said...

sure- please just credit my website. Thanks!