DIY Tie-Dye Jamboree! Shirts, shoes, and a jillion tiny socks.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been attracted to things that are tie-dyed. I love the fluid shapes and patterns and the vibrant colours. Fortunately for me, tie-dyed clothing is one of the 80s trends I like that came back! (Along with some that make me wince a little, such as crimped hair.)

I have also always wanted a pair of Converse high-tops, ever since Grade 9 when I spent many hours drawing a beat-up black Chuck featured in my culminating still-life in art class. (We got our still-life materials from a closet in the art room that was full of interesting crap.) At age 14, I did not feel I could pull off the necessary coolness/attitude for high-tops. Now that I’m an adult, I know what’s important, which is: I don’t care if I pull them off.

I ended up putting those two ideas together after getting all excited about design-your-own shoes on the Converse website and then having my dreams crushed because DOES NOT SHIP TO CANADA and furthermore DOES NOT ACCEPT PAYMENT FROM ANY CANADIAN INSTITUTION INCLUDING PAYPAL ACCOUNTS FROM CANADA. (Not that I’m bitter.)

The solution? Dye my own. (IN YO FACE,!)

I went out and procured two “One-Step Tie-Dye” kits by Tulip. I had to get two, because I wanted all the pretty colours, please.

IMG_6176 IMG_6177

If you’ll notice, one kit says it will dye up to 20 projects, and the other up to 30 projects… and the dye apparently starts to lose potency after 45 minutes. Ergo, by my calculations, that meant: dye a whole truckload of stuff!! Or as much stuff as I could reasonably afford.

tie-dye preparation
E was raring to go. What better activity for a balmy Victoria Day weekend?
tulip one-step tie-dye bottles
Dye bottles from the kits form a nice rainbow.
tulip one-step tie-dye bottles 2
Then you fill ’em up and shake ’em. E was good at the shaking part.
dye your own converse
There are my Converse, actually off-white, carefully taped up with painter’s tape because the Interwebs were inconclusive as to the stainability of rubber soles.
dye your own canvas shoes
It was surprisingly hard to find these little canvas shoes for E – I eventually did at Old Navy. The adult ones came from Ardene.
tie-dye toddler socks
I told you – a jillion socks. (If you count them, I think you’ll find it’s exactly one jillion.)

Here are a few things I learned from the DIY Tie-Dye Extravaganza chez Dilovely:

  • Paper towels: YES.
  • Plasticized tablecloth: YES YES YES. (Dye washes right off with water.)
  • Plastic gloves from the kit: nice idea but they SUCK. Rip at the slightest provocation.
  • Reading the whole instruction booklet first: a good idea. It’s full of solid advice.
  • I would add to the advice: if you don’t want to have droplets of the wrong colour in random places, put your fingertip over the tip of the bottle when positioning it.
  • Also, if you want lots of control over what the dye does, use a sponge to apply dye instead of tipping it straight from the bottle.
  • We tried three of the different techniques for shirts described in the instructions: bullseye, spiral, and “scrunching”.
  • They all work! Make sure you use lots of dye to penetrate the folds.
  • If your helper is a small child, make sure he has had a full snack before you start.
  • If your small-child helper is a mini-perfectionist, working with liquid dye might produce tears and/or screaming.
  • If the end result is cool enough, your small-child helper will forget all about the tragic parts of the adventure.
  • The rinsing part takes forever – but you can make it more efficient by squeezing in a top-down direction.
  • As to the staining of rubber soles: tiny spots that got in around the tape washed right off the Converse and the adult shoes, so my precautions were probably unnecessary. The only soles that seemed to stain were the kid shoes. I’m hoping it’ll come off with baking soda and a toothbrush.
  • We kept the bottles, and there’s a refill dye packet for every colour… so I may be ready to try this again in a year or so.
tie-dye kids socks
It’s like a party in your socks and all the colours are invited!!
kids tye-die socks
He’s very invested in his stripes.
tie-dye canvas shoes
You have to bag everything for 6-8 hours to let the dye set. We ended up leaving them overnight.
After the rinsing, our clothesline looked like this…
… and my hands looked like this.
hand dyed converse
Supa-cute! The middle ones were bottle-dyed, the Converse were sponge-dyed, and E’s little shoes were a combination of both techniques (with only a small calamitous meltdown in the middle).
hand dyed chucks
YEAH baby.
tie dye kids clothes
Tie-dyed children! xoxoxox

Don’t you want to go try it yourself? 🙂

P.S.: If you’re a shoe-lover and a Canuck, I can recommend My Converse came from there, hassle-free, free shipping and returns on everything – but they ONLY SHIP WITHIN CANADA. Just so you know. The company tells me you can get $50 off $100 with your first order – just for being MY friend!! – by using this link.



8 thoughts on “DIY Tie-Dye Jamboree! Shirts, shoes, and a jillion tiny socks.

  1. B-Bop says:

    OH my goodness; that picture of the kids at the end made me laugh out loud with delight! You are the best mama for doing this project. I love it!! If my own Cons were not black, I’d consider dyeing them RIGHT NOW. Can we have a picnic table craft day sometime when I’m there?! xoxoxo

  2. Auntie CL says:

    This is splendiferous!!!
    Makes me nostalgic for the green Converse L had when he was about 10 or so, underappreciated at the time (by him).
    You are totally cool enough! fabulous shoes
    and socks
    and shirts
    and kids
    and mama

  3. Carrie says:

    OMG – I am so envious of your super cool mom status, and your kids super cool tie-dye status, and most of all your super cool artistic talents!!(these talents skipped me much to my children’s dismay) I am totally waiting for old navy to start sellign killer tie dye socks so I can get some for my kids!!!! lol

  4. Julianne says:

    I love the tie dying we used to do at camp. In fact, I still have a few shirts we made, however, they are at my parents’ home. The first thing that popped into my head when I saw your clothesline, The Grateful Dead! Love it!!!!!

  5. emerge says:

    SO GREAT!!

    My favourite pics are the last one, of course, and the one of E at work. YAY CRAFTS!! And I LOVE the bright rainbow socks and shoes. We had tie-dye stuff in the 90s, i even did some at Camp once, but nothing I had was as awesome as those things. SUPAIRCOOL.

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