Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Easy Tie Dye T-Shirt

Do you want to tie dye a shirt without all the mess?   This activity combines chemistry and art to create a designer t-shirt that is sure to get lots of attention whenever you wear it.
1 clean white cotton T-shirt
Plastic cup (8 to 12 ounces)
Rubber band
Plastic water-bottle cap
Permanent markers (such as Sharpies) in various colors
Rubbing alcohol
NOTE: On sale this week at Walgreens  you will find an 8 pack of Sharpies for $3.99 and t-shirts for $2.50.

Choose a work surface: an outdoor table(ideal), or a table indoors near an open window and away from any heat source (alcohol is flammable).  Cover work surface with newspaper.

Lay the T-shirt flat on the covered table. Position the opening of the cup directly under the section of the shirt that you want to decorate. Stretch the rubber band over the t-shirt and the cup to secure the shirt in place.

Place the bottle cap in the center of the stretched fabric. Have your child use a permanent marker to make a circle of dots around the bottle cap, keeping the dots  close to the bottle cap.

Remove the bottle cap.  Using an eyedropper, slowly squeeze 20 drops of rubbing alcohol onto the blank spot where the cap was, allowing the molecules of ink to spread outward from the center. ( As the rubbing alcohol absorbs into the fabric, the ink spreads in a circular pattern). The result is a beautiful firework like pattern. Allow the design to dry for 5 minutes before repeating on a new area of the shirt.

When the shirt is done and completely dry, place it in the dryer for 20 minutes to heat set the colors, then wash and dry as usual.  Rinsing the shirt in a solution of vinegar and water is another method you can try to set the colors.
Experiment with different shapes — a dotted star, a heart, or concentric rings of dots. To make flowers, when the designs are dry, slip some paper towels inside the shirt and draw stems with markers.

You can purchase a Sharpie Pen Science Kit from

Idea and pictures from Wondertime and Steve Spangler Science

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