Tie Dye T-shirts–the Multiple Mom Way

I don’t know about you, but I’m running out of steam. We are in the last dregs of summer vacation and it feels like the last mile of a really long run. . .especially since by the afternoon it is too hot to go outside and the “what-can-I-do-now!” resound with the regularity of a grandfather clock.

I came across this idea. It seemed relatively easy and something that multiple children ranging in age from 3 upward could do: tie dying t-shirts. The beauty of this project is that you probably have all of the pieces necessary at your house right now (permanent markers and rubbing alcohol) and there is not a bucket of dye to be found anywhere!

Here’s the process:

Take a white tee-shirt and put either cardboard or newspapers in between the front and back layers. Then with permanent markers make dots about a quarter size.

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Of course, unless you are two, then you just draw and dot whatever pattern (or not) you want on the white t-shirt. . .and on the table. . .and a couple spots on mom.

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After you have the dots, and in Dylan’s case the lines, you put an eye drop of alcohol on the marker spots, causing the ink to flow from the dots. Keep adding drops of alcohol until you get the desired affect of the color burst.

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We also found that spraying water after we put alcohol on the dots helped to spread the ink a little further out.  Marc liked the affect of dotting his name on the shirt as well.

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After the tee-shirts dry, iron the bursts of color to help the ink set (although I did find that after washing them the color did slightly fade).

I mentioned that their shirts reminded me of the fourth of July, so for the photo shoot of the finished products the American flag was deemed a necessary prop. Such serious faces from my boy scouts wearing firework shirts.


I wanted to show you an up close view of Will’s shirt. He wanted a tree on his and the bursts of color became the “leaves”. The yellow burst on the side of the trunk is a caterpillar–but I bet you already figured that out. He also told me that he really didn’t like his name, so instead of a “W” on his shirt he wanted an “M” for his last name, which I guess he is just fine with. You find out the funniest things when doing an art project with your kids. SONY DSC

The Scholastics website has a really neat way of doing this project and explains the science of the marker spread as well.



I am a mother of two sets of twins and a singleton. I explore the wild world of multiples and provide resources for other parents of multiples.
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