Wet, wild, and, yes, a little messy, tie-dyeing is the perfect way to keep kids entertained on a summer day. Even adults will appreciate that moment of anticipation just before the unraveling of rubber bands reveals their own vibrant creations.
Tie-dyeing is a "resist" technique: Fabric is cinched so that when it's immersed, certain areas resist the dye. The undyed areas form decorative patterns against the dyed ones.
This simple technique requires minimal equipment and supplies that are available at any supermarket or hardware store. Simply set out bowls of rubber bands, clothespins, marbles, and garments (for best results, use 100 percent cotton) and experiment with a variety of expressive patterns.
To begin, choose a pattern and gather fabric accordingly. Don rubber gloves, and mix dye (following manufacturer's instructions). Add a cup of salt to deepen the color if you like. Immerse a garment in dye and gently swish it around with a spoon. Remove when the color is slightly darker than desired; this should take 5 to 20 minutes. Rinse the fabric in warm and then cool water until water runs clear. Remove clothespins or rubber bands. Hand-wash with a mild detergent and warm water, and rinse with cool water. Or launder alone in a washing machine. Wring in a clean old towel and then line-dry, or machine-dry on the coolest setting. Below are four popular designs, although the possibilities are limitless.