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Craftcast posted a project that shows you how to use tissue paper (the kind you use to wrap stuff with) to dye fabric with. What a cool use for that dollar store staple!

Craftcast used some specialty supplies to make an arty fabric piece, but I  used tissue paper to dye a onesie. I have tie dyed before, and it’s a lot of fun, but it costs about $20 just to experiment a little with tie dye, plus it’s not the kind of activity you want to do with very small kids because of the toxicity of some of the necessary materials. Dyeing with tissue paper is a great way to get the look of tie dye with very basic materials you have on hand or can get at the dollar store.

This is a great project for young kids. My 2 year-old son helped me make the onesie. It would be fun to do this a day camp or as a scout activity. The only challenge is that it takes about a day to complete the dyeing/drying process, so it’s better for regular meeting-type groups. You could do it for a birthday party activity, but you’d probably just want to send the shirt home with parents with instructions for finishing it up.

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I only had three fairly light colors of tissue paper at my house (yellow, orange, and lighter blue), but I think bolder colors would be quicker and have more impact. Also, I couldn’t find my spray bottle, so I used a dollar store squirt gun to spray water on my tissue! Basically, I like to use what I have on hand instead of buying new stuff for every project!

Project Estimate:

  • Tissue Paper $1
  • Light-colored Fabric or T-shirt – on hand
  • Water – on hand
  • Vinegar – on hand
  • Rubber Gloves (or similar) – on hand
  • Spray bottle/mister/recycled hairspray bottle – on hand, or $1

Total cost: $1 and up

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For our version of the project, you will wet the t-shirt in the sink, wring out, and spread out on your work surface. Place colored tissue pieces on your fabric or t-shirt as desired. I cut mine in strips to make a kind of sun shape on the chest. You can probably use strips with pretty great effect to make very basic shapes – like letters. Moisten tissue with more water (spray bottle or squirt gun), and allow dye to leach into fabric. Honestly, the more tissue the better at this stage.

The orange tissue just made yellow

The orange tissue just made yellow

Remove tissue when desired color is reached and wet fabric with vinegar. Allow to completely dry. In my case, nothing happened (no dye transfer at first), so I just poured vinegar over the whole thing, tissue included. I removed tissue when the whole thing was dry – the next day.

Set dye by ironing damp garment with an iron, or by drying in the dryer. If your garment is completely dry, moisten it and then dry it in the dryer to set. I laundered my onesie and it came out looking like it does in the photo at the top. I didn’t detect any less color saturation after laundering!