Ages 3+

Spectacular Tie-Dye

Guardian’s favourite tips for making custom tie dye t-shirts

Imagine how excited and proud your child would be to create their own colourful, patterned cloth.

Tie-dying is a long-practised way of working with fabric that produces a brilliant result every time.


Things you will need

  • Tie-dye kit (or fabric dye available from your local supermarket, fabric store, pharmacy or online)
  • Old cotton tablecloth, child’s T-shirt, pillow slip or other item you are happy to have dyed
  • Rubber bands (if not in the kit)
  • Waterproof (plastic or rubber) gloves for you and your child
  • Newspaper
  • Waterproof apron or old clothing for your child to wear (this activity can get messy!).


How to Do It

  1. Cover your table with newspaper, or perhaps flattened grocery delivery bags. A tie-dye kit contains everything you need for your creation
  2. Together with your child, open the kit and lay out all the pieces, then read through the instructions. Discuss what colour(s) and what kind of pattern your child would like to make, and how putting the rubber bands in different places might help to achieve this
  3. If using dyes without a kit, there are many ways to make marks by using items to stop the dye from penetrating the fabric as much. You can use rubber bands, pegs, thick sting or twine as a barrier
  4. Time to dip and then find a safe place to dry!
  5. Once your tie-dyed creation is complete and dry, it is a good idea to put the item through the washing machine on its own to ensure the dye has set, then hang it on the line to dry – your child will be able to marvel at their work!



  • To add complexity to this activity, you can try using multiple colours instead of just one. See the link below to a video explain four more design techniques
  • If using a new garment or piece of fabric, wash it first to prevent shrinkage
  • Get your toilet training child involved and create some new and exciting undies!
  • Try making a whole set of placemats and napkins from one old sheet.



What Learning is Occurring?

  • Science in life – predicting and identifying change and reactions.
  • Language Skills – understanding symbols and following instructions
  • Small muscle development – strength and dexterity is needed to use rubber bands, string and pegs and to twist and manipulate cloth
  • Sustainability – repurposing and renewing something old
  • Creativity and artistic expression. Using multiple coloured dyes helps your child learn about colour mixing.




picture_as_pdf View Resource

Sourced from “Bright Ideas for Young Minds”, developed and adapted by Alix Broadhead, NSW Curriculum Mentor

Sign up for our latest news and information