Tie Dying

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This can be done with all age groups. It can form part of a number of badges.

Two sets of dying on different occasions are needed for Explorers to gain their Creative Arts badge. This allows the young people the opportunity to review their first attempt and to then improve on it for their next attempt. They also need to display their work in some form.

Both sessions could be done on T shirts but a good first session is to do the dying on a plain piece of white sheet. Using second hand white cotton bed sheets and cutting them into sections will give you a lot of pieces.

The speed/time needed will change as the young people get more skilled and efficient. The younger the group - the longer it will take.


Dylon fabric powder dyes
glasses to mix the dyes in
plastic medicine ( calpol ) syringes
rubber bands
plastic bags or plastic containers
plastic sheeting/ground sheets
tissues/paper towels
hot & cold water
Old/back clothing - aprons optional
Optional: cooling racks for those wanting to turn their work over and no have it touch the table, forks for using in the centre of item to twist and make spirals.


1) Cover your area - floor and tables.
2) Distribute cloths for dying or ensure each young person has an item to dye.
3) Young people add as many elastic bands and marbles ( secured by elastic bands ) to their item as they wish, ensuring they are twisted around tightly to prevent the dye getting at the parts covered by the bands. They can also tie knots into the cloth.
4) Mix a small amount of dye in glasses - first with a splash of hot water to dissolve the powder and then top up with cold.
5) Allocate a couple of plastic syringes to each glass of dye. They then use these to add the dye to their cloths. The syringes allow greater control and result in less spillages. They can also be used to create a splatter pattern effect.
6) Once they are happy their item has enough colour on it, put each item into it's own air tight container - a plastic bag or tub. Label with name if necessary.

With younger children I would perhaps consider doing the next step yourself, or ensuring you send them home with printed instructions for their parents.

7) They take their item home and keep it in the air tight container/bag for 24 hours to fix the dye. No salt or fixing agent is needed.
8) Rinse out in cold water. The water does not have to run clear, just not so strong.
9) Hang up to dry - if drying inside take care to protect the floor from any drips.
(Do not tumble dry! )

NB: Ensure to wipe up spillages as you go.

Once their items have been washed a couple of times they will be completely colour fast.


  • creative
  • creative arts

Badge Links

  • Creative Arts - Demonstrate
  • Creative Arts - Perform