In the spirit of this month’s theme, I thought it’d be fun to show you how to do some imitation tie-dye using supplies you’ll most likely be able to find around the house. It may sound a bit weird to tie-dye without the actual dye, but it does work and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the end results!


What you’ll need:

    • Sharpie markers in different colors (any permanent marker will work!).
    • Rubbing alcohol (70% alcohol or higher).
    • A medicine dropper.
    • Something to dye (like an old T-shirt). Whatever you decide to use must be 100% cotton or the ink won’t set properly.
    • A piece of cardboard covered with a garbage bag.
    • An iron.

Safety first: You’ll definitely need to do this project in a well-ventilated area (like in front of an open window or outside). The fumes from both the rubbing alcohol & markers can get really strong and irritating over a period of time. Also, don’t use the iron by yourself if you don’t know what you’re doing.

All right, let’s get started!


First, slide the plastic-covered piece of cardboard inside your T-shirt (or whatever you’re dyeing), between the front and back layers;; this will help keep the colors from bleeding through.

Now you can go to town using your Sharpies to draw different patterns—stripes, circles, whatever you want. I find that flowery shapes and starbursts (as shown above) make really nice tie-dye-esque designs.


You can also try using more-traditional tie dyeing methods: Folding sections of your T-shirt accordion style, then use rubber bands (or bobby pins if you don’t have any bands handy) to secure the pleats in place. You don’t have to get it perfect—just fold it any way that you can.


Scribble over the top of the pleats with your Sharpie.



Use a medicine dropper to place a couple of drops of rubbing alcohol in the center of each design. This will make the ink spread and create the tie-dye effect. The more alcohol you use, the more the colors will spread.


Sit back for a bit it and see which way your design decides to run!


Let your T-shirt dry overnight in a well-ventilated area or hang it outside to dry. DO NOT put it in the dryer! Rubbing alcohol and dryers do not mix. At best, you’ll leave a permanent stain on the inside of the dryer, but at worst you’ll set it on fire. Be sure to take the bands/clips off of the T-shirt when it’s still semi-damp, just so it will all dry evenly.


Once your shirt has completely dried (seriously, it cannot be even a smidgen damp at this point!) press the whole thing with a hot iron to set the colors. After that you can wash and dry it as usual, though I’d suggest putting it in the wash on its own so you don’t accidentally dye the rest of your clothes too!


Now you’ve got yourself a fun, summery tie-dyed T-shirt that cost next to nothing to make! Go out and show off your work. ♦