Creative Kid: DIY Tie Dye


It was cousins’ craft weekend at the lake cottage–a well-timed event considering that it rained (monsooned) half of the time. When the cousins weren’t performing as members of the Awful Music Band (really, truly awful), we were painting, sculpting clay, printmaking, and getting our hands stained if not dirty with a tie-dye extravaganza. If you’re interested in making tie-dye a summer tradition too, here is my unofficial guide, with kid-friendly steps starred.

DIY Tie-Dye

1. Buy a 3-color tie dye kit. I usually use the Jacquard Funky Groovy Tie Dye kit, which includes everything you need: the dye already in squirt bottles, rubber gloves, rubber bands, soda ash, and good instructions. Have extra dishwashing gloves and rubber bands on hand. This kit makes about 5 t-shirts.

2. Collect white cotton clothing. If it’s new, make sure to pre-wash. Don’t forget to tie-dye some socks–always a crowd pleaser!

2. Set up an outside work space and cover it in plastic.

*3. Create your design by folding and using rubber bands. Stripe designs, sunbursts, and traditional circles are simple enough for kids to make. Several easy patterns are included in your dye kit. It’s okay to improvise, too!

4. Soak t-shirts in soda ash for recommended amount of time. This enhances the dye’s vibrancy.

*4. Apply dye with squirt bottles. Kids should wear aprons/old shirts and rubber gloves. Remember that yellow + blue = green. Red + blue = violet. Yellow + red = orange. Keep clear of combos that make brown! Brown is not a groovy tie-dye color.

5. Place dyed shirts in plastic bags and let them sit overnight. The next day, rinse very well (I use an outdoor hose and bucket) and then throw them in the washing machine.


House: Painted Adirondack Chairs!

Does the chair mirror the sky, or the other way around? Either way, Benjamin Moore’s Blue Lapis is a delicious, summer hue. According to the company’s website, it’s the color “favored by Cleopatra.” Have I mentioned that I’d love a career as a color copywriter?

I painted two unfinished Adirondacks in blue lapis to add to our chair collection up at the lake. The others are painted in Orange Juice, Tequila Lime and Pink Raspberry. (We weren’t aiming for subtle.) After priming, I used less than a quart (plenty for two chairs) of exterior latex paint in semi-gloss.  And then I painted a matching tiny version (photo on upper left) that I found at my craft store!

Renew: Doll Chair

Many of my teenage summer jobs involved painting. (Of walls and houses, that is. Not of high art.) Maybe that’s why my summer cravings include not just ice cream cones, lake swims, and hammock reading, but also splashing paint about. If you have the patience, painting is such a gratifying, economical way to transform something worn and tired.

doll chair

I purchased this doll chair at a yard sale years ago, and it’s been moldering in my basement ever since. Now it has the perfect recipient–my niece Lila who has recently become besotted with a doll she named Rosie. (Feminists out there: no worries, Lila is formidable and will some day rule the world.)

I had some leftover pink paint (Ben Moore Elephant Pink) from my stair project and ombre porch swing project. After a coat of this pale pink, I cut out some Victorian roses (I’m sorry! I had to!) for decoupage. I wish I had taken a before shot–the chair was formerly dirt brown!

Tried it: Matchbox Weaving

matchbox weave by homemade city

Some of you may who follow this blog know about my love for all things matchbox. In addition to tiny crafts, I’m also drawn to pointless ones. So when I spotted this matchbox weaving by Marisa Ramirez on Pinterest, of course, I had to try it. I thought it might be fun to do this with kids, but my 8-year-old son Zeke informed me it would too hard. I think he’s right, but maybe we could weave some other unlikely object, like these sticks?


Tried it: Little Things to Sew Messenger Bag

photo 1

I am huge fan of Liesl Gibson, creator of the Oliver and S and Liesette pattern lines. Not only does she have impeccable taste, she writes patterns that make seemingly difficult projects simple and fun. So, when her book Little Things to Sew was published two years ago it went to the top of my list–even though my little person was too old for most of the projects. It is just too cute not be in my craft library. I made family of bucket hats last year and this year I tackled the messenger bag, which comes in kid and adult sizes. I made the adult size using a fun yellow canvas, a print from Lotta Jansdotter’s Glimma collection for the lining, Essex Yarn Dyed Linen in Flax for the strap, and Kona Fog for the binding.

The hardest part was finding the hardware for straps. I finally found just what I needed at Rebel Surplus on Etsy–hoorah! Liesl’s instructions are just perfect. I particularly love that she really explains how to execute each step successfully. Instead of saying “sew on bias binding,” she includes a little tutorial in the back of the book that explains how to align the binding so you catch both sides. Ah ha! This bag uses a lot of bias binding, so you will be a total pro when you are finished with your project.

If I had worked on the bag from start to finish, I think it would have taken about three or four hours. Even though it has lots of pockets, is lined, and looks very professional, if you go step by step, I think anyone with a modicum of sewing experience could complete this project.

photo 3

I think if I were to make another bag (which I might!) I would use a heavier weight canvas for the outside or some interfacing to give the bag a little more structure. Either way, I love my bag!