Suffolk, UK

Fashion To Dye For: DIY Tie-Dye Tees for Summer 2020 #AD

It may be the summer of 2020, but fashion is stepping all the way back to the 1960s for its seasonal trends. That's right, break out the free love and hippie vibes because tie-dye is very much in style! Bright, bold colours are the order of the day, making tie-dye clothing perfect for sitting in the garden and catching some rays. Of course, you'll be able to buy into this trend by shopping pre-dyed pieces on the high street but if, like me, you've really enjoyed getting crafty at home during lockdown, you can also have a go at making some unique and utterly personal tie-dye clothing by yourself! Tie-dyeing is also a great way to upcycle old white t-shirts, making it not just a fashionable option but an ethical one too. Here's how to make your wardrobe to dye for!

You Will Need...

  • T-shirts: For this DIY, I selected three white cotton t-shirts from Femme Luxe Finery. Clothing made from a natural fibers like this are ideal for tie-dye as they hold the dye most effectively. A 90% natural blend will also work well but avoid 50/50 blends as your colour will come out very pale.
  • Dye in your choice of colours: I picked three colours from the Dylon fabric dye range: French Lavender, Paradise Blue, and Sunshine Yellow. I found them at a local hardware store but they're also available to buy online. 
  • Rubber gloves: These are essential to ensure that your hands aren't stained or damaged by the dye.
  • Squeezy bottles: You could also use a jug but you'll be able to apply your dye far more precisely when using bottles.
  • Table cloth: This makes sure that the surface you're dyeing on won't be ruined by the colours.
  • Elastic bands: These will hold your t-shirt in place during the dyeing process.

Step One

The first thing you'll need to do to prepare your t-shirts for dyeing is to stick them in the wash, especially if you've bought brand new shirts for the occasion. New shirts often contain a chemical on their surface which will prevent the dye from soaking in properly, so give them a spin in the washer and wait for them to completely dry before beginning this process.

Once your t-shirts are ready, it's time to fold, crumple, or twist the fabric. Crumpling your tee will make sure that some parts of the shirt will be in contact with more dye than others, creating the cool gradient effect that tie dye is famous for. When dyeing the Femme Luxe shirts, I opted for two folding techniques. First, I pinched a t-shirt in the middle and twisted it around to create a swirled effect. Second, I rolled a t-shirt up and made it into a sausage shape. I secured them in place with the elastic bands.

Step Two

Next, I popped on my gloves and mixed up the dye using warm water. I simply followed the instructions on the individual packs of dye that I purchased to ensure we got the mixture exactly right. I found that the smaller packets of Dylon dye required a little table salt to be added to them, but the salt was included in the larger pack. Make sure you read the packet and any instructions carefully as they will vary from brand to brand.

Step Three

My next step was to carefully squirt the dye onto the shirts. The squeezy bottles allowed me to make a really precise application - even when I dyed one shirt multiple colours, they didn't bleed into each other too much. My top tip for this step is to take your time and ensure that both sides of your shirt are evenly coated with dye. You don't want a beautifully dyed front to your t-shirt and nothing on the back!

Step Four

The final step in the process was to seal the dye-soaked t-shirts in zip-lock bags. They need to remain damp while the dye sets. Most tutorials recommend that you leave your shirts in the plastic bags for between 6-8 hours, or even longer to obtain the brightest colours. I put each shirt in its own individual bag to prevent the colours transferring from shirt to shirt. After the tees have had time to soak up the dye, I put them in the washing machine at 30°C. They were then ready to wear!

Bleach Dyeing

If you'd like to get crafty with a black tee (such as this oversized black shirt from Femme Luxe), you can still have a go at creating that cool tie-dye effect. But instead of using coloured dye, raid the cleaning cupboard and use bleach to strip the colour out of your shirt instead. This will produce a really unique item of clothing! If you do choose to give this a go, however, I cannot stress enough that YOU MUST TREAT BLEACH WITH RESPECT. Bleach can be extremely dangerous if it gets onto your naked skin or into your eyes, so do not rush this process and wear gloves during every single stage:

  • For bleach dyeing, twist or roll your tee up as above and put on your gloves. Then mix up bleach and water in a squeezy bottle. The ratio of bleach to water should be 50/50. Place your t-shirt into a washing up bowl and gently squeeze the bleach onto the shirt. Be very careful with this process.
  • The bleach will get to work on your t-shirt very quickly, you'll soon start to see it turn orange or pink! Give it a few moments to settle into the shirt before carefully rinsing it out under a cold tap. Again, take great care here to ensure that the bleach doesn't splash onto your skin or eyes.
  • Once you've rinsed out the shirt, pop it into the washing machine. We washed our bleached shirt at 30°C. When it comes out of the washing machine, it should be safe to wear. However, if your shirt still smells of bleach after its first cycle in the washing machine, wash it a second time before wearing it. 

The Results

I was so impressed by how all of the tie-dye tees came out! They'll make for great loungewear when paired with some joggers but you could also go for a more dressy look by teaming your newly customised shirts with a pinafore. I'll be wearing mine with distressed denim shorts all summer long - they're all really unique pieces. I especially liked the fact that the shirts already came with a cute slogan printed on the front as they add an extra bit of interest and a real statement to the outfit. Make sure you check out the Femme Luxe Finery site if you're planning on getting crafty with some shirts of your own!

Have you ever tried tie-dye? Let me know in the comments!