Outside The Box
Tie-dye with Polo Ralph Lauren
There are lots of fun activities out there, but only one that leaves you with something you’ll want to wear.
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Step 1: Get Your Kit Together

Most craft stores sell dye kits with everything you need to get going—including cotton shirts.

Here’s what you’ll need: 

Colored dyes
Squeeze bottles
Rubber bands
Rubber gloves 
Soda ash and dye fixative, for better color saturation (optional)
Something to dye!

Step 2: Choose Your Canvas

Go with garments made entirely—or at least mostly—from natural fibers like cotton, linen, and wool. 

Try it on socks, T-shirts, oxford shirts, sweatpants, or hoodies for relaxing at home—and, of course, you can’t go wrong with a cotton mesh Polo shirt.

Step 3: The Setup 

Prepare your dyes (each brand will have its own instructions), then soak your garments in warm water (with soda ash, if using) and gently wring them out — tie-dye works best when the fabric is damp, but not soaking wet. Put on your gloves and find a good space to work, like a bathtub, a large sink, or somewhere outside, and you’re ready to go.

Tip: If you have one, setting down a wire rack is helpful — it allows excess dye to neatly drip off your garment rather than pooling together on your work surface. 

Step 4: Tie It Together

Grab your rubber bands and get to work! 

Try the standard swirl pattern by inching the center of a T-shirt or Polo and spiraling it tight, then rubber-banding it together to form triangular cross-sections. Pinch small sections and wrap rubber bands tightly around them to create circle effects. 

Or, bunch your garment together and apply your bands randomly to create an abstract design. Grab a few old tees—maybe even a sheet—and try just about anything else that comes to mind, and try to guess what the resulting pattern will be. Creativity is encouraged!

Step 5: Add the Dye

With your gloves on, grab your dye bottles and have at it! 

Try mixing and matching different colors onto the different sections that your rubber-band pattern has created. Repeat on all sides of your garment.

Tip: A little bit of color blending is encouraged, but be careful—too much can muddy the overall result. 

Step 6: All Set …

Place your garments into individual plastic bags and let rest according to your dye’s instructions. Then, if you’re using a fixative, soak according to its instructions.

Then remove the rubber bands, unfold, and voilà—your new tie-dye! 

Tip: Be sure to rinse each piece of tie-dye thoroughly, then machine wash individually at least once to wash out any excess dye and prevent it from spreading onto the rest of your laundry.

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