A while back I came across this ombré dip-dyed t-shirt on J.Crew’s website, and it seemed like a challenge to make my own. Yesterday my sister came over with her tie-dying stash to help me figure out how. Lately I’ve been seeing (and loving) this look on curtains, but dying a shirt seems a lot less daunting. Somebody dye curtain panels and let me know how it goes!
fabric dye (we used Dylon’s Olive Green)
salt (if your dye calls for it on the back)
a t-shirt (ours was a cotton/polyester blend)
stainless steel kitchen sink
I think there are a lot of ways to achieve the ombré look by dip-dying. These steps are by no means the “right” way to do it. We made it up as we went along, so just do what seems right to you if you dip-dye your own shirt. My sister is a tie-dying pro, so these steps are a combination of her advice, winging it, and some of the dye package instructions. We practiced on a few rags before dying t-shirts, and I recommend that you do the same.
This is what we did:
- Plug the (clean) stainless steel kitchen sink, and fill it with 3″–4″ of warm water. Stir in some dye. We stirred in about 1/3 of the package, but use more if you want your shirt to be darker. We also stirred in about 2 tablespoons of salt, since the Dylon dye instructions call for salt.
- Soak your t-shirt through with clean warm water and ring it out a bit.
- Hold your t-shirt by the shoulders and carefully lower it into the dye until the color goes up as high as you’d like (we aimed for the bottom of the armpits). Do not let the shirt linger in the dye, lift it right out. You don’t want a lot of dye to soak into the fabric on this dip, because this will create the lightest band of color at the top of the gradient.
- To dye the middle medium shade of the ombré gradient, dip your shirt back in and make sure to keep the top third of the already colored section out of the dye. This time hold the shirt in the dye for 10–20 seconds to allow more color to soak in. Slightly swish the shirt back and forth while in the dye to make sure you end up with a smooth gradient instead of a sharp line where the darker shade begins. You can pull it out to check how dark the dye is, and leave it in longer if the color isn’t dark enough for you. Lift the shirt out when you are satisfied with the color.
- Before dying the darkest part of the gradient, add a few more tablespoons of dye to the sink to make the color darker. Then dip only the bottom third of the colored section of shirt into the sink. Remember to swish the shirt a little like in step four. We held the bottom of the shirt in the dye for about a minute or so, but you can keep checking it and remove the t-shirt when the color is as dark as you want.
- After dying, let the t-shirt sit overnight to allow the color to sink in. (We covered the kitchen counter with a trash bag and spread the t-shirt out there.) The next day wash the t-shirt in hot water with just a little bit of laundry detergent.
- Wear your totally awesome dip-dyed shirt.