One year, I taught chemistry in the summer and we tie dyed as an end of course activity, so it can be completed for one class at a time.
You do need to spend money on a tie dye kit for the dyes -- here are a few that are relatively affordable (in the $10 range) -- but they only dye about 4 shirts:
If you want to dye shirts for several classes, it is going to cost more (more shirts, more dye) -- maybe you want students to pay a fee to dye a shirt, help pay for the supplies! Also, if you students are providing their own shirts, they must be 100% cotton.
To tie dye t-shirts, you would need:
Tie dye kit(s) plastic garbage bag(s) large rubber bands a water source
100% cotton t-shirt plastic gloves large plastic (zip-loc) bags (1 qt.)
Here's one video showing how to tie dye -- for an entire class, our lab tables were covered with plastic -- you decide if each student has an opened plastic trash bag that they use as their work surface. This presenter is not using plastic gloves -- if you don't use gloves, your hands will get dyed, too!
One site with instructions is:
From these instructions:
"After you are done dyeing the fabric, leave it alone. Do not untie it. Do not hang it up to dry. Leave it tied up, and leave it alone. [It is stored in a tied plastic bag.] Let the fabric sit for 2 to 24 hours. The length of time you let the fabric sit is not overly critical. Just let the fabric sit for as long as your dyeing time frame dictates. If you Tie-dye in the evening, let the fabric sit overnight, then wash out the loose dye in the morning. If you are in a hurry, let the fabric sit for as long as your deadline will allow. Then wash out the loose dye. I do find that if you let the fabric sit overnight before you wash out the loose dye, then it is easier to wash out the loose dye and keep the colors from running.
Wash loose dye from fabric. Wear gloves to handle messy dyed fabric to avoid staining skin. Do not put dyed fabric directly on floors, carpets, countertops, etc. to avoid staining these surfaces. Leave fabric tied up! Take tied up fabric to a sink and flood it with cold running water. A lot of loose dye will come out of the fabric, this is normal. Allow the cold flowing water to rinse out the loose dye. Cold flowing water will carry away the loose dye and keep the colors from running together and the white areas white. It takes a lot of rinsing to wash away the loose dye so rinse and rinse each piece for as long as your time frame allows or until you get sick of rinsing each item. You will not likely rinse all the loose dye out by hand in this manner and you will finish washing out the loose dye in a washing machine.
To complete the washing process, fill a normal top loading washing machine with warm water. Add Synthrapol SP Detergent if you have it. [I've had students use shampoo or dish detergent with successful results.] UNTIE Rinsed shirt and put it in washing machine. You can now wash several shirts together. [Students could have a t-shirt washing party!} Use various amounts of Synthrapol SP depending upon how heavy the dye concentration you plan to wash out. If you’ve rinsed most of the loose dye out of the fabric by hand, then use only 1-2 TBSP of Synthrapol SP. If you have pretty heavy dye concentrations, us up to ¼ cup Synthrapol SP per load. If you do not have Synthrapol SP Detergent, then use regular laundry soap in amounts for a normal wash load.
Wash fabric as many times as you need to until you’ve washed out all the loose dye. You can tell you’ve washed out all loose dye by looking at the water in the rinse cycle. If the water is clear, you’ve washed out all the loose dye. If you have a front loading washing machine, do not use Synthrapol as it is too sudsy. Front loading or low water washing machines tend to not wash out loose dye well as they do not have enough water to dilute the dye and carry it away. If you use a front loader or low water machine it is best to rinse as much loose dye from fabric as possible before you throw it in the washer."
Here's a video that briefly explains the chemistry of this dye process:
Check out my lab book "Chemistry on a Budget" at amazon.com -- it's only $20!
Each lab is presented with two possible report formats -- both labs use the same procedure but each has a different conclusion -- one with 10 questions to be answered as a conclusion, the other with a full laboratory report required. This gives the teacher the option of what type of report is desired, and each version is designed to be just two pages. This way the teacher can photocopy just one 2-sided page per student (saves paper).
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