Welcome to Summer: DIY Sun-Dye Bandanas

June 25, 2014

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

Images and text by Gabrielle. This post brought to you by Quaker Chewy — they’re all about fueling backyard fun. In fact, they’re offering free Nerf toys! Details at bottom.

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Last week, I told you about the Welcome to Summer party we organized with Liz and Jordan — we had the cousins over for a fun afternoon in the sun to mark the end of the school year. Each family handled two activities, which made for a full, happy, party agenda and eliminated any chance of boredom. Hah! It turned out to be a really memorable event, and I’m sure the kids will continue to talk about it for weeks and years to come.

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

I was in charge of Lemonade Toasts and Sun-dye Prints. I’m excited to tell you all about the Sun-Dye process today! Liz and Jordan are writing about their activities too — a Bubble Relay Race, and a Giant Water Balloon Slingshot.

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

Let me start by telling you I’m kind of obsessed with sun-dyes. They are super cool and feel a little magical. Essentially, they are dyes that are colorless when you apply them, but turn vibrant colors when exposed to sunlight. My mom introduced sun-dyes to me when I was in college and I’ve been going through sun-dye phases ever since.

For this activity, we decided to dye bandanas. I couldn’t actually find plain white bandanas, so we used square cotton dishcloths instead. They’re a generous size and work as head wraps, capes, or can even be tied around the waists of little ones as a beach/pool coverup.

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

The only brand of sun-dye that I’m aware of is called Inkodye. It doesn’t come in a ton of colors, but you could do a little color-mixing if you want to expand the palette. The main trick with sun-dye is you need both a low-light area and a sunny area to work in. The dye will start exposing as soon as there’s even a hint of sunlight, so you want to apply the ink, and add any objects that you want to use to block the sunlight, in low light.

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

Adding objects creates a pattern — we used plants, leaves, even clothespins. Pretty much any opaque object could work. In fact, Jordan told me about a friend who painted a duvet cover with Inkodye, then took a nap on it in the sun, and when she woke up, the imprint of her body was on the duvet. So cool!

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

One of the nice things about this activity is that there is some downtime. After bubble relays and water balloon sling shots, the kids could sit and relax and have a snack while the sun did its work.

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

One note: I would recommend having extra dyeable items on hand, because the process is super fun! And you’ll definitely want to dye more than one item. : )

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

I love this project! Even if your kids aren’t artsy, they’ll get a kick out of seeing the colors appear in the sunlight. And it’s pretty much no fail — no matter what objects you add, or even if you add none-at-all, the bandana is going to look fantastic.

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

Tell me, Friends. Have you ever tried sun-dyes? Is your imagination running with objects you could use to create patterns? (Me too!)

quaker-chewy
Thanks to Quaker Chewy for sponsoring our Welcome to Summer Party and fueling backyard fun! Quaker Chewy gives kids the energy they need to play. That’s why Quaker and NERF are teaming up to fuel backyard fun, helping families get active together, right in their own backyard. When you buy three specially-marked boxes of Quaker Chewy, you can enter the codes online at http://fuelfun.quakeroats.com to get a free Nerf sports item.

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

The materials for this project are pretty simple. I used:

- Inkodye
- Bandanas (really, dishtowels) — you could use anything you like! T-shirts, a bolt of fabric, a pillow cover, canvas shoes, sheets, etc.
- Sponge brushes
- Wide mouth jars (for dipping the brushes into)

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

It was such a sunny day that when we put the Inkodye into the empty wide mouth jars, the ink instantly started changing colors!

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

So we kept the jars in a paper bag to prevent exposure. Another option would be to paint the outside of the jars with an opaque black paint. Or, you could work inside, in a room with windows (or with good window coverings), and then bring your project outside for exposure once it’s prepped.

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

The bottles of dye aren’t big, and I was afraid we would run out, so I diluted the ink with water. On one batch, I used too much water and the ink didn’t develop as vibrantly. But as long as I didn’t use too much, the final color still turned out as intense as it should have. That’s just a little trick to make the ink go further.

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

Be sure to gather your leaves/props ahead of time. The sooner you add them to the freshly applied ink, the more crisp your images will appear. Work quickly once you’ve applied the ink!

DIY: Sun Dye Bandanas. You've got to try this. Sun dye is awesome!  |  Design Mom

One other note: I would definitely recommend experimenting first before trying this with a group. You’ll want to figure out the best places to work as far as low-light and sun-light are concerned. Also, different fabrics will accept the dye in different ways. For example, our dishcloths were starched and when I first brushed on the ink it didn’t soak in well, so I had to use a spray bottle to dampen the cloth first, and then apply the ink.

I think that’s it as far as notes go. Please let me know if you have any questions. And if you try this project, I’d love to hear!

P.S. — Like to make things? Find more awesome projects here.

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the summer list… | House of Mayhem & Chaos
June 26, 2014 at 4:36 pm

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Traci June 25, 2014 at 1:13 pm

This got me laughing initially because (I must need a nap…) I thought this was about making sundried bananas! So close, but yet not at all what you’re talking about. Anyway, looks like fun, a good thing to do with kids. I like to collect activity/creation ideas to do with my niece when we’re together.

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2 Design Mom June 25, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Hah! That is fantastic. Sun Dried Bananans and Sun Dyed Bandanas sound almost identical!

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3 Nina June 25, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Love this!! I’m so going to do this! Maybe next week! The kids will love love love it! Excellent idea. Thank you!

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4 Design Mom June 25, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Yay! So glad you like it. It’s a really good, kid-friendly activity.

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5 Ruth June 25, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Is there a specific way to set the dye? I’ve been wanting cloth napkins for a while, but haven’t gotten there yet. I think doing this with utensils would be perfect. Thanks for sharing such a fun project!

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6 Design Mom June 25, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Good question, Ruth. I’ve washed and dried the bandanas in the washer/dryer and the color held up beautifully. I don’t know how the setting technically works — perhaps it’s automatically set by the time the ink is done exposing.

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7 TopHat June 25, 2014 at 2:46 pm

We’ve done this with silk ties as a Father’s Day present. We used Jacquard dyes from Dharma Trading Company. It was fun and my husband wears the ties to church sometimes, if you want to see them.

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8 Design Mom June 25, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Dyeing ties! Brilliant.

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9 Abbey June 25, 2014 at 6:57 pm

I was wondering how long the cloth sits out in the sun, I wanna do it with the kids I watch in the summer but they are a little antsy so I may need a different activity to do inthe meantime.

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10 Design Mom June 25, 2014 at 7:35 pm

It doesn’t take too long — seems like 10 to 20 minutes. Planning another activity while it dries/exposes would be great.

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11 jill June 25, 2014 at 9:06 pm

I think using chains of all sizes would be excellent to use on these bandanas.

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12 Design Mom June 26, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Totally! Very cool.

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13 Alisha June 26, 2014 at 1:35 am

This is such a fun craft! I’d make a wall-hanging on a large piece of cloth, like maybe a silverware pattern (knives, forks and spoons scattered on the cloth) to hang in the kitchen.

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14 Design Mom June 26, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Knives, forks and spoons would be so smart! They’re so heavy and dense they would be perfect for blocking the sun, and weighing down the fabric too.

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15 Laura June 26, 2014 at 8:16 am

I’ve never even heard of sun dye! I love this activity.

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16 Design Mom June 26, 2014 at 2:12 pm

So glad I could introduce you to the wonders of sun dye!

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17 Barchbo June 26, 2014 at 8:46 am

Yay! A craft even I can do!

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18 Design Mom June 26, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Right? Simple as can be!

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19 Fran June 26, 2014 at 10:25 am

But you didn’t explain HOW to do it. Not a tutorial?

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20 Design Mom June 26, 2014 at 2:15 pm

Sorry for the confusion — it’s such a simple process that when I first wrote it out in numbered steps it seemed silly, so I just worked instructions into the body of the text instead.

The short form: paint the dye onto the fabric, put objects on the fabric to block the sun, then set the fabric in the sun and the color will appear. That’s it.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

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21 Stacy Cafaro July 5, 2014 at 7:09 pm

This is great!!

I’m going to try this on my boys clothes!

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22 Krista Davis July 7, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Can this type of dye be used on baby items (they tend to put them in their moth)? I know certain dyes are not recommended for baby items due to them leaking color more rapidly. Also, how long does the dye last through washes before fading?

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