I had heard the most good things about the products from Dharma Trading Co and so I went to order their “Tie Dye Little Group Kit” but once we added the shipping (across the country) of the kit which includes heavy ingredients such as soda ash, it was too expensive.
We decided to do the spiral fold this year, which produces the most typical tie-dyed shirt pattern. Steven was good at the folding method, so he folded and rubber-banded them for us and we each did our own color patterns.
Textile dyes work by creating a chemical bond with the material. This takes time but can be hastened by raising the pH. This is most easily achieved by soaking the shirt in solution of soda ash. Mix about a cup of soda ash in one gallon of warm water. Put the shirts in this mixture and let them soak for ten or fifteen minutes.
Meanwhile, mix the dyes. The dye comes as a very fine powder to which you add water.
The Jacquard kit claimed to do 15 adult shirts, so I thought we would have plenty of dye for the eight of us (and some of us used children-sized shirts), but very early on we could see that the dye would not last without using the dye sparingly.
After you have dyed the shirts, you leave them in their folded position and place them in a plastic bag. Seal the bag and let it sit on a warm window sill for twelve hours to twenty-four hours. The colors become more brilliant as they set, so be patient.
To help you be patient, you can have a tie-dyed treat...
When the colors are set, it is time to rinse the excess dye away. I unwrapped the shirts from the rubber bands and rinsed the shirts outside with the garden hose until the water ran clear. I then threw them all together in the washer and ran them through using hot water, and then dry on medium heat.
The shirts turned out great, the color was bright and we love them. The only problem was, because there was not enough dye, there was too much white in the shirts. Also, since the kit only comes with these colors, there aren't as many variations as we would have liked, especially in terms of pastel shades. The Dharma Company, for example, seems to have hundreds of colors to choose from.
Meanwhile, the Dharma company sent me a very nice email, which gave me tips on how to order from them and save money:
The main ingredient in the tie dye kit that is essential and heavy and expensive because it's heavy (from us here in California) is Sodium Carbonate (Soda Ash) This is a chemical that is used in Swimming pools to regulate the PH. One company calls it PH up and others Soda Ash, but you will have to check the label to see that that is the only ingredient. Urea is an additive to the dyes, but what it does is help the powders mix down and keep the fabric moist longer. If you are already putting them in plastic bags over night, then you don't have to have the urea. If you tie-dye every year you can re-use the plastic bottles and if it's family then the rubber bands come back as well :) -rinse well and store in plastic out of the sun and cold and the rubber bands will last as well from year to year. The dyes are a bargain comparatively. You get 2oz of powder for from 4-6 bucks depending on color and 3 of these jars will dye a little more than 50 adult Large shirts. Log this for next year and we can help you work it out. In the mean time you can evaluate how much the shipping would be by plugging in the colors you would like and seeing what the estimator says :) Thanks for taking the time to write me back. If you ever have tie-dye questions we can help with that as well. Edie (The gal at Dharma who finds out why orders get abandoned)
Although the Jacquard kit was a nice place to begin, next year, we plan to order our dyes from the Dharma company and use their advise with the soda ash. We can reuse the bottles and get new rubber bands and plastic gloves locally. We will probably choose a different pattern, too.