How to Ombre Dye a Shirt #summerofjoann

How to Ombre Dye a Shirt was sponsored by Joann as part of the Summer of Joann series.

How to Ombre Dye a Plain White Tee

Recently, Joann Fabric and Crafts contacted me to see if I was interested in taking part in their Summer of Joann Crafting with Kids series.  Ummm…let me think about this.  I spend half a day a week wandering around the store, picking up odds and ends for my projects.  Absolutely I want to participate!

The challenge was to choose a project from the Cape Discovery series and recreate it.  Hmmm…what to choose, what to choose…

Blue Ombre Dyed Shirts

Once I saw the How to Ombre Dye a Shirt project, I knew what had to be done.  I chose to do some hand-dyed projects.  Why?  Because I loooooooovvveee to dye.  There’s something mystical and magical about choosing colors and seeing how they blend.  Then, when the project is finished?  It’s like a total surprise!  And even if it doesn’t come out looking the best, it’s still beautiful to you.

For this project, we’re learning how to Ombre dye a shirt.  Multi color dyeing will come at a later date.  If you’re nice, that is.  I was watching TMZ one day, and Harvey Levin had on this gorgeous ombre dyed tee.  It was turquoise at the top, and faded into aqua around the chest area.  The rest of the shirt was white.  I had originally planned to re-create that shirt, as I’ve been thinking about it for quite a while.  However, since we were dyeing with kids, they wouldn’t leave the planned white part of the shirt alone. Before I knew it, we had little dye fingerprints on the white part.  So, I dyed the whole shirt.  I also used a regular blue shade instead of turquoise.  Obviously.

How to Ombre Dye a Shirt

Supplies needed for Ombre Dyeing

White or light colored items.  Fabric, yarn, t-shirts, tote bags, pillow cases are all great items to play with.   Natural fibers like cotton, rayon, or silk work the best and will provide the most vibrant colors.  Polyester and other synthetics will give you a much paler result.

Dye.  I used the tie dye kit, which came with everything we needed, and we just had to add water to the dye.

Rubber bands
Plastic gloves
Cups or squirt bottles for the dye
Foam paint brushes if using cups
Water in a basin or tub
Something to put your dyed projects on.  I used the lids of plastic shoebox bins.
Plastic shoebox bin

1 Launder your shirt.  Wash & dry it to get rid of any residue from the manufacturing process.  DO NOT use fabric softener, as it may interfere with the dyeing process.

2 When you’re ready to dye, get your shirt wet.  You want it to be fairly wet, but not dripping wet.  You may need to wring it out a little.

How to Ombre Dye a Shirt

3 Fill a plastic shoebox bin with one color of your mixed dye to a depth of about 1 inch.

4 Place the part of your shirt that you want to be the darkest in the bin.  Let sit for about 30 mins

How to Ombre Dye a Shirt

5 Place the next part of your shirt in the bin.  You may need to add some water to make sure that your shirt is fully submerged.  Let sit for about 15 minutes.

6 Decide if you want to dye the rest of your shirt or leave it it’s regular color (ie white).  If you want to dye it, place it in the bin.  Let sit for about 10 minutes.  Again, you may need to add some more water to cover your shirt.

How to Ombre Dye

After you’ve let your shirt sit, and let the dye work its magic, it’s time to rinse.  I have to admit, this is my favorite part.

7 Pour off the excess dyebath.  You can dump it in your yard, pour it down the toilet, or wash it down your drain.  Beware, it can stain your fixtures, especially porous ones.

8 Rinse under warm, running water.  Keep rinsing until the water runs mostly clear.  Sometimes, I do this in stages.  I’ll get most of the dye out, let it sit for a while, and have another go at it.

9 Once your pieces are mostly rinsed, you can wash them.  I generally wash them in a tub with a detergent.  I like Synthrapol, as it helps to pull out the excess dye and set the color at the same time.  For this shirt, I used my regular laundry detergent.  I keep rinsing until the water is mostly clear.  This generally takes three to five water changes.

How to Ombre Dye a shirt

10 Now, you can wash your dyed fabric items as you normally would.  Wash in the washer, dry in the dryer.  If you dye yarn, you still want to hand wash it.  Mainly because it’s delicate!

Wear your shirts with pride, and when someone asks, you can say “I made it myself!”



  1. says

    Beautiful!! The ones in the stores always cost too much.  Now you can make them for less, and in your style!! Love it! Pinned & Tweeted!

  2. says

    How neat! I only knew of one way to tie dye and always wondered how companies or people dye shirts in other patterns or designs. Would be a fun activity to do with the kids this summer :)

  3. Meg Tucker says

    Pretty cool! I love the color you used a lot. I would do this with some older shirts too. Thanks for thei nstructions, I would have never known this wasn't something you bought!

  4. says

    Ombre must be "in" this season b/c I just ombre-dyed my daugther's jeans! One tip I heard was to make sure the water is really really hot (I boiled it) and then to add a drop of liquid dishwasher detergent.  Great tutorial! 

    • Greta says

      Socks usually have a high percentage of polyester. If you had pure cotton socks, or maybe even some cotton undies, that would work.

  5. Julie Wood says

    I love to tye dye T-shirts to make them look unique and fun. I did this for my son and I and we loved creating Tye dye colors and making them look really nice.

  6. joanne gentry says

    I just love this idea, a great craft for kids and parents! One of my daughters just loves the ombre look so I know what I’ll be doing for Christmas! Thank you for such simple but awesome instructions!

  7. Susan Broughton says

    This is so cool I’m going to have to get my daughter and do this craft together. I think we would really enjoy it and we would have a beautiful shirt when finished.

  8. Susan Broughton says

    I think this would be a really nice thing to make with your older, maybe teen child, together. Right now this Ombre effect isou really big so your child would really be into this and want to make it with you. It would be a nice way to also spend more time with your child too.

  9. Robin wilson says

    This would be a great project to do with the kids over summer vacation! They would sure take great pride in wearing something they made themselves. I’d have fun too I’m sure!

  10. Marti Tabora says

    I love to dye as well, that was a great color choice, it’s such a vibrant blue and it’s very pretty.

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