How to Decorate Girls' T-Shirts

Tie-Dye Bouquet T-Shirt
Making tie-dye is a bouncing good time.
Making tie-dye is a bouncing good time.

With this wearable craft variation of the tie-dye technique so popular in the 1960s, you can make beautiful t-shirts and leggings. The secret to a more polished look with tie-dying is to exert more control over the dying process. By updating and refining, this technique will never go out of style.

What You'll Need:

  • White tunic-styled t-shirt and white cotton leggings
  • Thin fabric paint in 4 colors (we used yellow, raspberry, blue, and purple)
  • Black fine-point permanent marker
  • Rubber bands
  • Waxed paper
  • Paper towels
  • Water in trigger-style sprayer
  • Blow dryer
  • Iron and ironing board

How to Make Tie-Dye Bouquet T-Shirt:

Wrap rubber band around poked-up section.

Step 1: To begin tie-dye process, put one hand inside neck of shirt and poke up a portion of shirt about 3 inches below neckline. Tightly wrap a rubber band around poked-up section so that about 3/4 inch of shirt is gathered above the band.

Rubber band four more sections to create a circle.

Step 2: Repeat same procedure on both sides of rubber-banded section, about 3 inches to the outside and slightly below this first section. Do 2 more about 3 inches lower and about an inch to each side of center.

Step 3: Insert waxed paper inside of shirt. Be sure it covers entire area to be painted.

Step 4: Work near an electrical outlet. Have blow dryer and spray bottle filled with water on hand.

Brush yellow paint onto paper towel.

Step 5: Open all bottles of paint. Squeeze bottle of yellow paint slightly to get paint flowing and then brush onto paper towel. (In general, do not squeeze bottle while brushing on shirt as you may get a bigger burst of paint than you need. Always move bottle of paint over to paper towels when squeezing more paint onto brush.)

Step 6: Brush yellow paint on all poked up sections of shirt above rubber bands. These will be your flower centers.

Brush other colors around rubber-banded section.

Step 7: Brush on other colors below rubber-banded sections in a circle about 1 inch wide. Refer to photo of finished project for recommended color placement.

Step 8: Immediately spray a fine mist of water over painted areas. Check folds near rubber bands to make sure that all areas are bleeding. Add more paint or more water, if necessary. Check progress of bleeding often.

Blow dry to stop paint bleeding.

Step 9: Stop bleeding by blowing hot air on paint with a blow dryer until nearly dry and paint is no longer bleeding.

Step 10: Lay shirt flat on work surface, checking to make sure waxed paper covers entire inside of shirt. Add more waxed paper if necessary.

Paint bow shape below the tie-dye flowers.

Step 11: Using raspberry paint, make a bow shape below the tie-dye flowers. (You may feel more comfortable practicing on paper towels or an old shirt first.)

Step 12: Mist with water, allow paint to bleed, and then stop bleeding with blow dryer as before. Set shirt aside until completely dry. You may want to remove the rubber bands before painting the bow.

Lightly sketch stem, petals, and bow detail.

Step 13: When dry, press shirt on the inside with a warm iron to smooth out wrinkles. Replace waxed paper. Use black fabric marker to lightly sketch in flower stem, flower petals, and details of bow. (Again, you may want to practice this on an old t-shirt first. Use light, quick strokes for best results.)

Step 14: For leggings, gather sections and tie off with rubber bands, as with shirt. This time, however, use a random pattern. There should be a poked-up section every few inches. Insert waxed paper inside legs and seat of leggings.

Step 15: Paint front of legs first. Use brush-top paints as on shirt, coloring centers yellow and selecting flower colors in a random pattern. Try not to put several flowers of the same color next to each other.

Stop paint bleeding with a blow dryer.

Step 16: Immediately mist painted areas with water. Allow to bleed, checking folds as in Step 8. Stop bleeding with blow dryer. Turn leggings over, paint backs of legs, mist, bleed, and dry as before.

Remove rubber bands from leggings.

Step 17: Remove all rubber bands from leggings. Keep waxed paper inside and set aside until paint is thoroughly dry. Press leggings on the inside with a warm iron to smooth out wrinkles. Leggings do not require sketched-in flower stems and petals.

TIP: If you cannot find the brush-top paint in your area, try brushing on fabric dye or diluted fabric paint. Practice on an old t-shirt first to see if you are able to achieve the look you want.


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Tie-Dye Bouquet T-Shirt by Janelle Hayes, Christina Romo Carlisle and Janis Bullis

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