I’m going to tell you something that, given my hippie parent tendencies, may surprise you. I’m not a tie-dye gal. You see, there’s a spectrum to hippie-next-door parenting you may not be completely versed in, which is respectable. I fall hard and fast on the “most likely to be seen wearing a calico dress in a wildflower field listening to Tom Petty and drinking bone broth” end of the hippie parenting spectrum. Thankfully, Markus lands straight opposite in the the “aggressively outdoorsy in my Merrells, referring to both genders with ‘man’ and ecstatic dancing to Phish” zone. It’s those people over there, far over in Markus’ camp, that tie dye is strictly reserved for. Until now, if you are a fashion trend Instagram scroller like me.
I am so deeply aligned against tie dye that I can literally remember making tie dye shirts at Vacation Bible School at age 10 and thinking “I’m never going to wear this.” But then there was a singular Joe’s Crab Shack shirt, tie dyed in shades of blue, that I wore almost every day in seventh grade, on account of my mother refusing to take us to eat there and it becoming such a point of contention that my grandfather finally got behind me, took the whole family and bought me the t-shirt. He took a photo of me sitting on the railing while I’m beaming my face off in the shirt, feeling both seen and victorious.
Anyways, lately I cannot get enough of how I’m seeing tie dye. I’m loving it on seriously everything and anything, especially with Ralph Lauren and other high end lines like Alice & Olivia and even Everlane. Preppy polos and cable knits is the first place you’d think this effect would never belong, which just too perfectly visually synopsizes how I’ve felt growing up in my little thought and style bubble at times. I was getting some major summer Mountain vacation vibes as well, which is perfect for this summer’s family vacation plans.
I knew myself well enough to know this wasn’t worth the splurge, given my thoughts on tie-dye before it was trend. I almost went for a $20 shirt of the same variety from a boutique, until thinking for the same amount on supplies I could probably work some magic on a few items I already own and have some creative time with Heidi.
We went through our drawers and found a white t-shirt for her and white button down for me that were looking in need of a refresh. The best thing I did was order this Tulip Tie Dye kit from Amazon. With so many colors, I may have come out on top vs the cost of buying individual dyes, plus it came with gloves, a table cloth, rubber bands, the bottles and pattern instructions. I liked that it was all in one kit so I could order it but have everything neatly tucked away until it was go time. I added a pack of white bandanas to my order so we could have lots of places to experiment without having to invest in more t-shirts.
The co-best decision I made was involving another Mom in the mix, especially one of the most creative and artistic ones I know. Mione Plant and I became friends through her involvement in the Dallas art scene, especially with philanthropy efforts such as Dwell with Dignity and Markus and I’s Bold Strokes auction last year. I love her pattern play in her paintings. There is always a perfect paradox or something unexpected, often inspired by nature or her son’s toys. She screams “fun Mom who rocks backyard textile arts” to me. Plus, she is a vibe magnet I could hang with for hours. I took one of her painting workshops before and legit thought I could paint under the care of her encouraging spirit – a first for me – so if anyone was going to get me in a creating state of mind it was Mione and her adorable son.
It’s like anything else – choose the right quality ingredients (my Amazon finds and Mione in this case) and the magic is bound to happen. Our little girl and boy were all about making a perfect mess of themselves, exploring how different fabrics absorbed dye differently and how to create barriers for the pigments, how to work with complementary colors, exploring positive and negative space, but most importantly the value of thinking without failure.
The Tulip kit ended up being a life saver in terms of knowing I had everything I needed. Plenty of dye for four active artists, and I felt confident it would have spent more than the $20 I invested and even more of my time on sourcing the supplies individually. Plus, the bottles and case in the kit can easily be reused for other projects.
I think by the end of our time together, Mione and I had enjoyed letting the kids experiment to the point of releasing any expectations on the finished products. The kids had gotten weird and we were mighty proud. Mine also had skin of many colors thanks to refusing gloves. That’s what summer is all about, right?
It turns out, there’s no such thing as mistakes in tie dye for bomb results. We let our dye sit overnight, then rinsed each piece in the sink with cold water until it ran clear before popping them in the wash. The patterns and colors were amazing!
Some of the funky kids’ creations with really rich colors turned out to be my favorite.
I can’t wait to take all of the bandanas we made to the mountains as vacation presents for my family. My girl very proudly wore her tie dye shirt to preschool the moment it was dry.
I’m spinning my wheels now thinking of more fashion DIYs we can explore at home! Any ideas?