I think most people, when their white t-shirts become dingy or stained, either throw them in the washing machine with a bit of bleach, or relegate them to doing duty as rags. Well, I have taken a different approach this time: scrunch dying!
The full instructions can be found courtesy of Dharma Trading Company here, but this is roughly what I did:
I scrunched up two stained t-shirts and shoved them each in a 16-ounce cup. I mixed up four colors of dye as directed, and poured two in each cup. The instructions indicated that you should have a cup of each color dye, but that was too much for me – I’d be surprised if I used half that before the dye came to the top of the cup.
It’s recommended that you let the cups sit overnight, but I didn’t want to wait that long. I figured I would lose something in terms of vibrancy, but I could live with that – pale mottled color is just as pretty as dark mottled color in my book. So, I added the fixer after about 2.5 hours and let it sit for 45 minutes before I dumped everything out of the cups. (I also used much less of the fixer than was recommended – it just didn’t fit in the cup.)
A word to the wise: when you are wringing the daylights out of your dye-soaked shirts, trying to get the water to run as clear as it can, put on a pair of rubber gloves. I forgot, and my hands are still brownish bluish greenish, three hand-scrubbings and a shower later!
Twice through the washing machine, once through the dryer, and voila! Transformed shirts. I don’t think I sacrificed much in my haste – they are still quite vibrant. The only thing that may have been an issue is dye penetration. I wonder if I had left them all night, if the dye would have seeped into the folds further and left fewer white areas. If I were going to do this again, I’d be more careful about coverage. I would be happier with less white. Of course, one of the great things about this is that I could just do the process all over again with these same shirts and see what happens – the layering of color could be spectacular!
I should mention, when I dye things I am not in the least bit fussy about it. This is one technique where there is beauty in ignoring precision and just throwing it together, and that’s what makes it so appealing to me. I was able to start the dye bath before supper while waiting for my spaghetti water to boil, start the dye “fixing” just before putting the boys to bed, and run the shirts through the wash during the commercials while watching LOST. I just love a craft I don’t have to babysit or fuss over!