Tie Dye T-Shirts are Perfect for Fieldtrips August 11 2009

You can more easily keep an eye on all of your students, because the colors are bright & the patterns stand out in a crowd. 

Tie dye t-shirts are also fun to make during summer school or summer camp.

I recommend having parent volunteers dye the t-shirts on a warm, sunny day outside.

Tying the rubber bands/string can be done indoors with the students.


  • White t-shirt (at least 80% cotton). Send a note home asking students to bring a white t-shirt from home. You can also ask parents to donate a couple of shirts, just in case a student or 2 forgets to wear the shirt the day of the field trip.
  • Several bags of rubber bands or string  You will need at least 5-10 rubber bands or pieces of string per student.
  • 1 or 2 boxes of tie dye solution  The Rit dye is inexpensive and very easy to use. I recommend 1 bright color of your choice for your class. Colors like red, orange, green, blue & purple are easy to see. Combining colors may not make it as easy to locate your students in a crowd. That's why I'd recommend using only one color.
  • Large bucket filled with hot water
  • Place to hang the t-shirts as they dry
  • Permanent markers


I'm all about making this project useful, easy and interesting.  You'll need a few parent volunteers, so plan for adult help before you get started. The volunteers will need to dip all the shirts and line dry them outside, while you are able to move onto another activity with the students. I would not recommend having the students dip the t-shirts in the dye. 

1. Ask a few parent volunteers to help you write the students' names on the t-shirt tags with permanent marker.

2. The teacher can show the students a couple of ways to tie rubber bands or string onto the t-shirts.  Ask the parent volunteers to help the students tie the rubber bands or string onto the t-shirts.

I recommend this way, because I like the pattern it creates. It's also quick and easy to do. Be sure to tightly secure the string or rubber bands. I've found that when it is tied tightly the design is more interesting.



Another popular design is to pull the fabric up from the center of the t-shirt, tightly twist and tie several rubber bands. This way may take practice.

3. After the students tie the rubber bands or string tightly onto the t-shirts, put them in a large empty box or bucket by the door.

4. Volunteer parents can bring the t-shirts outside. Using rubber gloves, the volunteers can prepare the die solution (as instructed on the package) and dip each shirt for a minute or two (or as instructed on the package). It doesn't take long for the dye to sink in.

5. Squeeze the dye out of the shirts and remove from the bucket.

6. Remove the rubber bands.

7. Open up the t-shirts and let them line dry.