I love taking advantage of summer to get creative with me kids. I especially love an activity that is easy for them to do, and not a giant mess for me to cleanup. Though the idea “dye” might cause concern, this dying project can be done on your lawn where there’s little chance of permanent staining.
Because my girls love swimming, and they love playing with color I thought this would be the perfect craft to keep them busy for an afternoon. Adding a monogram acts like a signature on their art and is handy for keeping track of which belongs to whom. And now they have colorful towels to take to the pool and beach to show off their creative work!
To spray-dye your own towels first gather some supplies (affiliate links follow):
- White 100% cotton large bath towels
- Tulip Fabric Dye in your choice of colors (3 or 4 colors is nice)
- 16 oz plastic spray bottles
- Freezer paper (if you want to add a monogram)
- Exam gloves
It’s best to pre-wash your towels to remove any sizing and ensure the best dye absorption.
If you want to create a monogram on a towel, first draw a letter on the dull size of the freezer paper. I free-handed these but you could print out a large letter and trace it. Cut the letter out of the freezer paper and iron it onto the towel. This will screen the area from the dye and leave the letter space white.
Follow the package instructions on the dye to mix it up. I used about half a 1.75 oz package of the Tulip Permanent Fabric Dye with 16 oz of water to fill my spray bottles, so it was more concentrated than the instructions call for.
Put on the exam gloves and arm each child with a spray bottle. Then spread out the towels on the lawn (freezer paper monogram side up) and let them squirt away! Be sure to have plenty of space around each tile to avoid over-spraying issues.
Your kids will learn that holding the spray bottle far away results in a fine, indistinct spray. Closer yields fun dots of color, and super close creates squiggles or lines.
I’m always tempted to offer some art direction, such as limiting the dye to three different colors, but my girls usually do even better left to their own visions.
You’ll spray only one side of the towel. Much of the dye will bleed through.
After they are finished spraying, carefully dab off any puddled of dye on the freezer paper and then peel off the freezer paper.
It’s so fun to see the contrast of the white cloth underneath the paper!
Let the towels air dry, then throw them in the dryer on the high setting to set the color. After 24 hours follow the dye manufacturer’s instructions for washing them.
You’re all set! Your children will have fun new towels to use for the summer, and feel good about the fact that they decorated them themselves.
Anneliese is the mother of three daughters, her muses. She is an indie sewing pattern designer and the creator of the blog Aesthetic Nest, where she journals her pursuit to create beautiful things and celebrations for her family. Her work has been featured on numerous lifestyle and creative websites and included in two sewing books. She believes creating a thing of beauty brings happiness—especially when it’s a labor of love—and she hopes to inspire others to create their own beautiful gifts and celebrations. You can view other crafts on her blog, including some of her favorites for children: Scribble Initial T-Shirts, Button Picture Frames, and Mini Paper Covered Clipboards.
Thanks for sharing, Anneliese, and for being a part of our 5th Annual Summer Camp Series!
Want to see more summertime fun ideas? Check out the Summer Camp Archives!