Friday, May 25, 2012

Peace, Love and Tie-Dye

It's that time of year again. The school year is winding down but the end of the year festivities are just revving up. Due to my work schedule I haven't been able to be as "involved" as I would have liked to be in my children's school activities (translate: as involved as what I feel like a "good" mom should be... *sigh*).
So. I volunteered to help create the field day t-shirts for my son's class. VOLUNTEERED. To HELP. Important words here, folks, as you're about to see.
So yay, the teacher was happy and I felt "good" about myself. The kids decided that they wanted tie-dyed shirts. And I thought that was cool. The teacher told me that another mom had signed up to HELP before I did, so she asked permission to pass on my email address to coordinate with said mom. I thought that was even cooler. A partner to share the task with!
 I figured we'd get together, make a night of it, perhaps (hopefully) have a glass of wine and a few laughs. I imagined our kids helping us intermittently and running around the backyard at dusk with tie-dye stained feet. The angels of Heaven would sing and I'd make a life-long friend and wars would cease to exist and peace would abound among men. WRONG.
See, this is where a creative mind can cause problems. When I daydream about possibilities, it's one of two ways. Either worst case scenarios or rosey hued romanticism. There's never a time where I daydream a normal, feasible, average possibility. And that's kind of a problem because I either hyper-ventilate with anxiety or I have such a pretty ideal in my head that the actual event is a real letdown. But back to the story.

Turns out the other mom was just too busy to help after all. She informed me that she had written on the shirts and purchased a couple of bottles of the dye but could she just drop it off at my house for me to do the tie-dying? Scrrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech. Thud.
That was my happy little vision coming to an abrupt end. This would be the frustration part. What could I say? I sent back a terse reply of sure here's my address and when I arrived home from running errands a giant bag of white white white t-shirts was on my front porch. Oy. 
Did I mention that the kid's chose neon orange?
Or that I had never, ever, tie-dyed anything but my hair before? And even that had been an accident?

So... after watching several YouTube videos on tie-dying technique I set about my task. First, I ran 25 blindingly white shirts through the rinse cycle. I didn't know why a damp shirt was important but I later found out that if you try to squirt dye on a dry shirt it just beads up and runs off all over your deck.   : /
And to make a long story not that much shorter....4 days and roughly $60 later I had successfully done my volunteering for the year. Here's the process in case you're crazy. Or just want to try it yourself. Or both.

1. Depending on the design you want for your shirt, you will fold or in this case twirl your damp t-shirt. This method creates a swirl/starburstish pattern. Yes, that is a word thanksforasking.

2. This is what a completed swirl looks like. You will then use as many rubber bands as necessary to keep the shirt in that position. I found that 4-6 worked best.

3. Wrap rubber bands in a criss-cross fashion. I was picky about the placement but it really doesn't affect your design at all. The band's sole purpose is to keep the shirt in the wad of your preference.

4. You are now ready to apply your dye! The kits I had came with 3 different colors. In order to save money (haha, I'm a sucker) I decided to use all 3 colors. I squeezed green on the center of the swirl, fuchsia outside of that and then orange for remainder of the shirt. Apply the dye in circles like a target. The more white space you leave, then the more white you will have on the shirt and vice versa.

5. After applying the dye, wrap the shirt in plastic wrap. This is to keep the dye from getting everywhere and also to keep the shirt from drying out. You will then set these in a cool, dry place for 8-24 hours. I did 24 hours for all but one of the shirts and the result was the same.

6. Rinse the shirt under cold water until it runs clear. Well, that's what the directions said but I'm here to tell you that it will never happen. So I just rinsed until I got bored. Then I put the shirts into the wash with hot water and an extra rinse cycle.....tumbled dry and then.....

The finished product! I think they turned out pretty darn good for a first time experiment. A few pointers: Tie-dying is pretty easy. It feels scary and messy and you think that surely the shirt is going to look awful but I promise it will work just fine however you do it. Also, the tie-dye kits are about $10 apiece and they claim to yield up to eight shirts but I found that wasn't the case at all. Two kits only got me seven shirts. So...liars. I went through three of those kits AND five single bottles of dye. Those were around $7 each. That's 14 bottles total for 25 shirts. That's a lot of numbers. Are you confused yet? AND I later found out that soaking your shirts in soda ash before dying them will result in a more fade resistant color. Oh well.

My tie-dyed deck. Before it rained, the stains were actually a more ominous shade of red. But now it looks kinda cool. Maybe I'll start a whole new art movement and make tie-dyed furniture. Hmmm. Anyone else have an adventure in tie-dying?

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