Provided you’ve got the space to do it, tie dyeing is not that hard. It’s time and water intensive, and it makes a huge mess, so inside your house isn’t a good location, unless you’ve always wanted tie dye carpet.
All the supplies for the party were purchased through Dharma Trading Company. They sell everything you need, at very reasonable prices, and they’re super helpful to boot. A couple times I had to contact them with questions on some of the procedural aspects of tie dye, and always, within hours, I had an answer! They’re so helpful for the novice dyer.
I used the Serious Tie Dye Group Kit. It contains pretty much everything you need for a group of tie dyers. I did add on 3 more squirt bottles and some of their Professional Textile Detergent. We dyed about 16 shirts (~8 year old sized), and 2 pairs of socks. I think we could have dyed about twice as many shirts (though some of the kids were very sparing with the dye, so maybe not quite that many). You have to use twice as much of the turquoise dye powder than the other colors, so with extra turquoise, we could have dyed even more shirts. (We had plenty of dye powder left over in the yellow and fuchsia, so you could easily dye ~30-40 shirts with another ounce of turquoise dye powder. Though you’d probably need more soda ash for that many shirts.)
The dyeing process itself is fairly simple. Wash and dry the shirts (or whatever) ahead of time. Since I was working with younger kids, I folded and rubber banded the shirts before the party, so there would be less for them to do. Older kids can do this themselves, but it does go a lot quicker if you do it for them.
The morning of the party, I mixed all the dye. There are instructions on how to mix on the Dharma Trading site. The neat thing about turquoise, fuchsia and yellow is that they’re primary colors and you can mix them to make other colors. Turquoise + fuchsia = purple. Turquoise + yellow = green. Fuchsia + yellow = red. No, it doesn’t make any sense when you’re familiar with red, blue and yellow primaries, but it works, I promise.
Once you’re ready to dye, soak the shirts in the soda ash solution for about 10 minutes. Wring them out, then dye! You’ll want to make sure your table is covered in a ton of old newspapers. Apply the dye as desired (color blocking – filling in each section with it’s own color tends to work best, though there are no wrong moves with tie dye. Plenty of the kids put the dye all over the place and the results were still awesome) and then (carefully!) place in a plastic bag – the shirt needs to sit for 24 hours, and needs to stay wet. This is what your garage looks like after a bunch of tie dyeing:
Once the shirts have been able to sit for 24 hours, you start rinsing. This is where you use a lot of water. First, you want to rinse off any extra dye in cold water, then rinse in warmer water as you take off the rubber bands. Once the water runs almost clear, you’ll move the shirts into a washing machine prefilled with the professional textile detergent, or a bucket with hot water and PTD, if you’ve got a front loader (then put them in the washer with more PTD). Wash and dry as usual.
And here’s the results!