Clothing + Fashion tie-dye tutorial (9 of 9)

Published on July 25th, 2011 | by Julie Finn

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Five Upcycled Tie-Dye Projects That aren’t Tacky

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tie-dyed socksI know, I know–tie-dye is one of those crafts that has the potential to be really, really tacky. I’m sure that we both have seen many, many tie-dyed things, primarily on other people’s bodies, that just did not need to be in existence.

In small doses and carefully selected venues, however, tie-dye can be just the thing. Tie-dye is fun and summery, when done correctly it is both color-fast and light-fast, and like a Lilly Pulitzer shift dress, the vibrant melee of colors hides a multitude of fabric stains and other flaws.

This makes tie-dye a nearly perfect method to upcycle old fabrics made with plant-based threads such as plain cotton, linen, flannel and jersey knit. Whether you’ve been passed down a giant linen tablecloth that would take a LOT more love than you have to give to freshen up for the table, or someone (I’m not naming names here, but you know who you are) put that one red sock in with your entire stash of white terrycloth towels and you have too much sense to chlorine bleach the bejeesus out of them, or the dress/sheets/shirt/curtains that you found at the thrift store chose not to announce their set-in stains until you brought them home, then tie-dye may be the answer to upcycling stained old fabric into fun new fabric.

Here are five projects to inspire you:

tie-dyed napkin

1. Linen Napkins and Tablecloths

Napkins and tablecloths are the kind of thing that often get passed down to the next generation, but they’re not always in the best shape when they get to you. Great Aunt Fanny Sue may have kept a pristine table for well onto fifty years, but by the time her table linens got passed on, they may have been sitting in a cupboard for a decade, yellowing and letting old hidden stains get more and more discolored. While yellowed and discolored linens would look gross on your table, brightly-colored tie-dyed linens, like these tie-dyed napkins from Kim Moreau at Good Housekeeping, would look right at home on your summer dinner table, or created with a color scheme to fit in with a fun party.

[The image on this page is the property of Andrew McCaul.]

Next >> Tie-Dyed Socks

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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.



  • http://www.happygreenbabies.com Rachel

    I love the tye die napkins.  I have some white napkins that are not so white any more, this is a great way to make them new again.  Can’t wait to give it a try!

  • ilove2craft

    Great ideas!

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