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Natural and Frugal Tie Dye with a Teen and Tween

Tuesday, May 05, 2015


Oklahoma Women Blogger Rachel Hough is a full-time elementary teacher, a full-time mom and a full-time wife. Like many women today, she wears many hats and tries to balance or juggle, depending on the day, each of them. To read more of her tales, visit

From a very young age, my girls have loved to craft. Maybe it has something to do with working with their hands, or the ability to make something, but they love it. What I don’t love is the expense that can occur or using anything chemical. Our youngest daughter has a lot of allergies and very sensitive skin, so I try to be as natural as possible.

When we decided to do our latest craft, a tie dye, I really wanted something that would be friendly to her skin and to my budget. I’m all about a challenge, so I challenged myself to tie dye with the girls for less than $5, and I’m happy to say that we succeeded.


  • I raided the closets for things to tie dye. We came up with a cami, a tank top, 2 white pillow cases I forgot about buying a few years ago and a t-shirt.
  • Homemade dye from things I found in the refrigerator and pantry (see below)
  • Paper towels

Prepare the fabric:

  • Let your kids go wild with the rubber bands making all kinds of designs, or just randomness.
  • Boil water and white vinegar (1 cup vinegar for 3 cups of water – I did 12 cups of water and 4 cups of vinegar).
  • Place the rubber banded fabric in the boiling water and simmer for one hour.
  • Rinse with cold water and wring for dying.

Prepare the dye:

  • I ended up using tumeric (yellow), beets (red/pink), and red cabbage (purple)
  • Tumeric: Fill pot with 4 cups of water and add 5 TBSP of tumeric. Bring to a boil and simmer for one hour. Strain and put in a jar.  
  • Cabbage: Fill pot with water even to the amount of shredded cabbage (I had 5 cups of water and 5 cups of shredded cabbage) Bring to a boil and simmer for one hour. Strain and put in a jar.
  • Beets: I already had 2 quarts of beets put up from canning last year, so we ate the beets for dinner and drained the “juice” off into a squeeze bottle.

Let the dying begin:

  • I put all of the dyes into condiment squeeze bottles. The girls just went crazy and did their own designs. Our little neighbor friend even came by to see what all the fuss was about and ended up doing it too.
  • After dye is soaked in and you are happy with the design, it is important to quickly take out the bands and then hang up to dry immediately (I used my clothesline). 
  • Let the fabric dry completely.
  • Put fabric in a hot dryer for about 30-45 minutes to set the dye. 

(Use the paper towels for clean up)

The girls loved their creations and are actually using/wearing them. The bands didn’t break during removal and are ready to go for our next adventure.

Did I mention the dyes are “pet friendly” also?

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