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Ombre Patriotic T Shirt

Dying is confusing! This tutorial makes it easy to dye ombre tshirts! #patriotic #fourthofjuly #summer #redwhiteandblue

The 4th is coming! the 4th is coming!! Here's a last minute project that would be fun to make for one special person, or make one for the whole family (matchie matchies!!).

JoAnn Craft Challenge
I love what I do! JoAnn Fabric asked if I would take a look at their awesome Summer Craft Catalog, and do my own spin on one of their projects. It was hard to choose, the catalog is full of easy and fun crafts for moms and kiddos too!  You can see it here.

I chose to try the ombre dyed t shirt. And I figured, let's kill two birds with one stone and make something for Andrew to wear for the 4th as well.

Ombre 4th of July T-Shirt
great tutorial for dying ombre style. I am so doing this! #redwhiteandblue #patriotic #fourthofjuly #joann


  • White cotton t-shirt
  • Blue Rit Powder Dye
  • Red Rit Powder Dye
  • Salt
  • Liquid Fabric Detergent
  • Bleach Pen (or liquid bleach)

Helpful Stuff to Have Handy:

  • Plastic tablecloth
  • Plastic gloves
  • Apron
  • Glass baking dish
  • Metal tablespoon measure
  • Large glass measuring cup
  • Lots of paper towels and a sponge
1. Cover Up
I prepped my surface (kitchen island) with some sheets of saran wrap patched together. A plastic tablecloth would probably be best, as dye can leak through the seas and stain almost any surface. Use the plastic to drape your work area completely.
great tutorial for dying ombre style. I am so doing this! #redwhiteandblue #patriotic #fourthofjuly #joann

2. To Dye For
The directions on the back of the dye are pretty confusing. There are about 16 hundred million different ways to prepare it based on heating method of choice and type of material. After staring at it for half an hour and still feeling confused, I'll make your life easier by writing out exactly what I did!

Rit Powder Dye Instructions
  • Fill a glass measuring cup with 4 cups of water and pop it in the microwave until it is nearly boiling. I heated mine for 5 minutes.
  •  Add 1/2 package dye, 1/4 cup salt, and 1 Tbs. laundry detergent. The package says adding salt and detergent will help the dye to stay better.
  •  Stir until combined.

great tutorial for dying ombre style. I am so doing this! #redwhiteandblue #patriotic #fourthofjuly #joann

Be very careful when opening the packages!  My advice is to do it somewhere far, far away from the work area. I opened mine right over the spot I later placed my wet white t shirt. What happened? Dots of dry dye stained the shirt all over!! arg.

 Thankfully a dip in some bleach turned it back to white again!

3. Taking a Dip
I poured the blue dye into a glass casserole dish. I figured glass would be more resistant to discoloration than a ceramic or plastic container. I wet the shirt with hot water (per Rit's suggestion) and dipped the bottom 1/3 into the dye.
great tutorial for dying ombre style. I am so doing this! #redwhiteandblue #patriotic #fourthofjuly #joann

 I let it sit for 2 minutes, then pulled a few inches out. I let that sit for another 2 minutes, and pulled more of the shirt out. I kept doing this until only a few inches of the shirt were left  in the dye. I let the last part sit for 10 minutes.

Doing this will make the dye darker toward the bottom (the part that spent the most time in the dye).

To get the ombre effect, I dipped a paintbrush in water and "pulled" the dye up into the white part of the shirt, using horizontal strokes.
excellent directions for dying ombre! #joanncrafts #summer #patriotic #fourthofjuly

This is not a strict science! I played it by ear, and where I needed to add more blue color, I dipped the brush in some very diluted* dye and blend/painted it onto the shirt.

*diluted as in one dip of a dye filled brush in 1/4 cup of water.

4. Sit and Rinse
At this point I should have removed the shirt from the blue dye and let it sit overnight (8 hours). Then rinsed it out in the morning. That would have let the dye set really well and kept it from fading so much.

Instead, I rinsed the shirt immediately. I held the white part up and rinsed "down" the shirt, so the blue dye wouldn't spread toward the white areas. The color faded quite a bit. My bad for not waiting! (I blame it on reading too many Pinterest tutorials and getting them jumbled up in my head).

Oh well. After that I followed the same steps for the red ombre-

dip (in 2 inch stages)...
excellent directions for dying ombre! #joanncrafts #summer #patriotic #fourthofjuly

excellent directions for dying ombre! #joanncrafts #summer #patriotic #fourthofjuly

and brush/fade in the color.
ombre rit dyed t-shirt. JoAnn craft challenge #fourthofjuly #redwhiteandblue #patriotic #summer

Let the second color set for 8 hours then rinse. Keeping with my befuddlement, I rinsed right away.

When you do rinse, hold the middle part of the shirt up to the faucet and let the water flow to either side of the shirt. This will keep the middle part mostly white(ish). A little bleach brushed on the middle brightened things up nicely.

After a very thorough rinsing (like 5 sessions)  it was time for a wash. I hand washed the shirt with detergent in the sink. I'm glad I did because I was surprised how much dye was still coming out in the water!! I dried it  out in the sun.

It's a Shirt, It's a Popsicle...
All done! My ombre red, white, and blue t-shirt:
ombre rit dyed t-shirt. JoAnn craft challenge #fourthofjuly #redwhiteandblue #patriotic #summer

 I love how it came out! I laughed because it totally reminds me of one of these! Do you remember Bomb Pops?

Speaking of pops, I popped the shirt on Andrew (my 21 month old rascally Munchkin son) and took him outside to "model" his new look. 
ombre dyed t-shirt #fourthofjuly #redwhiteandblue #patriotic #summer
Shades and all :)

ombre dyed t-shirt #fourthofjuly #redwhiteandblue #patriotic #summer

Tip on toddler photography:
Put your camera on an extremely high speed setting (like the one used to capture a bullet firing from a gun). Put something in your pocket they will want (i.e. food, a toy, or in my case the garage door opener). Then have them chase you as you run backwards, snapping madly away.
ombre dyed t-shirt #fourthofjuly #redwhiteandblue #patriotic #summer
 Got the shot!!

Thankfully I didn't crash headlong into anything while snapping these pics. High five, self.
ombre dyed t-shirt #fourthofjuly #redwhiteandblue #patriotic #summer

I think my son is (quite unbiasedly) the cutest thing ever to hit this planet. Mama loves you, bud!

Thanks, JoAnn for the fun challenge! Here's the side by side comparison.
ombre dyed t-shirt #fourthofjuly #redwhiteandblue #patriotic #summer

Have you dyed with Rit before? What has been your experience? any secret hints?

This 4th we'll be BBQing with some friends, basically visiting, lounging and eating the day away.

Yay 'merica.


If you liked this post, check out my 4th of July roundup!

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