Simple Tie Dye using Sharpies

On Friday afternoon Bria and I spent 3 hours making 10 of these shirts:

My five-year-old Creative Jazz students are being fireworks for the year end concert at J’Adore Dance. I love this class! They are little spitfires full of energy and creativity who always make me smile. They are dancing to Katy Perry’s “Firework” because I love the message of letting your inner light shine! I found the tutus below back in January but needed shirts to complete their outfits.

After searching high and low for affordable shirts I found this idea on Pinterest via The Art Girl Jackie! Problem solved! I picked up a rainbow pack of Sharpies for $10, a bottle of rubbing alcohol for $2, and 10 cotton undershirts for $30! Each shirt came to a grand total of $4.20!

Following Jackie’s instructions we placed a thick piece of cardboard in-between the front and back of the shirt (to avoid the color transferring through), placed a plastic cup under the shirt and secured it with an elastic band. Then, Bria and I drew different designs in the middle of the circular area.

After we were satisfied with our designs we used a medicine dropper to apply rubbing alcohol over the designs. This is when the magic happens!

I realized quickly that Bria’s larger designs were making larger firework shapes so after the first round of rubbing alcohol was applied I went back and added more colors around the outside of the circle. Then I applied more rubbing alcohol. I really liked how this created an explosive feel to the colors!

Bria and I explored with lots of different ways of making designs. We learned if our design used very specific shapes (like flowers or stars) even once the rubbing alcohol was applied the original shape would still remain on the inside. This was an effect Bria particularly enjoyed so many of her shirts have “hidden pictures” as she calls them.

I enjoyed experimenting with color rather than shape and tried different ways of applying the rubbing alcohol to change the way the colors would run. Be careful to not put complimentary colors right next to one another, as they will run together to create brown. But if you are careful with the way you apply the rubbing alcohol you can create a rainbow firework!

From my days as a camp counselor, I’ve tried many different methods of tie dye with all ages of kids. This is by far the technique that revealed the best results with the least amount of mess! The colors are far more vibrant and varied than I have ever been able to achieve with traditional clothing dye.The sharpies allow you to control what color ends up where. Other than a little bit of marker on your fingers there was literally no mess to clean up! Not to mention the fact that Bria sat completely engaged in this activity for 3 hours and was disappointed when we had no more shirts left!

To set the colors I initially used a blow dryer on the hot setting after we finished each shirt. When all shirts were finished I popped them into my clothes dryer. I was a bit nervous that my dryer would end up rainbow-rific but the colors stayed on the shirts and vibrant as ever!

We only needed 8 of the 10 shirts for the Jazz class (I bought 2 extras just incase!) so Bria made one for a friend whose birthday party she went to today and one for Malia. Malia was thrilled with her firework shirt and didn’t want to take it off 🙂

You could take any 100% white cotton piece and customize it using this technique. I’d like to try this project again with different sized cups to create different sized fireworks. I’m going to hunt for a simple cotton, white, tank dress for myself and jazz it up using this technique! I’ll post pictures when it is finished.

I love how each of these shirts is beautiful, vibrant and unique just like each of my little Jazz dancers. I hope they love the shirts as much as Bria and I do!