When my childhood best friend and I were about 12, we spent a weekend tie dying Hanes t-shirts and selling them to people from a table in front of my house. So when I decided to tackle tie dye to make custom napkins, I was recklessly confident in my psychedelic abilities. Overconfidence is a crafter’s demise…join me on a walk down failure lane. To quote Maria Rainer, “let’s start at the very beginning… it’s a very good place to start”…
$15 for 12 Homegoods white napkins and a bottle of Rit dye from my craft supply hoard. Here’s how my first attempt started. One guess where it all went wrong?
Yeah… I was thinking I was being all wholesome and purist to use some old jute twine I had kicking around. I tried a couple of different tie dye techniques in Rit Aquamarine and… turns out, jute just absorbs the dye (duh) so my fancy wrapping went from this….
More ‘subtle’ on the tie dye spectrum than I was going for…
I also tried a glue resist, and that didn’t work so hot either… perhaps I should have laundered the napkins first, but my tie dye confidence was taking a biiiiiig hit here.
Okaaaaay…Attempt #2. This time I used Rit’s Denim color and I prewashed my napkins. I did a little more poking around the world wide web and found a few more ideas for tie dye patterns, and loved the look of this technique in particular. Fold the napkin like a fan in one direction. And then fold like a fan in the other direction. Sandwich the fabric between two scrap pieces of wood and secure with beaucoup rubber bands.
For another set, I tried wrapping part of the napkin around some golf balls we had lying around.
And lastly, I just twisted the napkin and wrapped it with rubber bands every couple of inches.
Results? Better… but I got nervous leaving the fabric in the dye after the uni-dye results of the first attempt and pulled it out after only 5″. It looked way dark at first, but then I laundered it and the tie dye pattern was barely noticeable.
I had fallen in love with the vibrancy of the shibori dye so wanted something more dramatic. Cue attempt numero tres.
(Do you follow me on Instagram? Then you saw this lovely…)
Same patterns, just a longer time in the dye bath.
Also? I grabbed four of my aquamarine fails from Round 1 and tried a simple bleach splatter I’d seen. Super simple and something I’ll try again… literally took a paint brush and dropped straight bleach onto the fabric.
174 white napkins later, and I have quite the set of tie dye. I’m not claiming total victory and still have a hankering to problem solve and try a few more techniques (I’m looking at you, glue resist), but… I’m totally pleased with the results!
Now… go ahead and invite 48 of your closest friends because I have a set of napkins to use and we’re serving ribs. With a side of chicken wings. And some juicy watermelon.
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