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HOW TO: Ombre Dye a T-Shirt (fashion DIY!)

[ 5 ] August 24, 2012 |

ombre how to t-shirt diy

how to ombre dye t-shirt diy

Confession: I am ombre obsessed. It all started a few years back and the sensations still multiply, gremlin-like, with each passing day. As the glorious Diana Ross says, “If there’s a cure for this, I don’t want it. I don’t want it!”

There are a ton of complex tutorials on how to ombre, involving too much head-scratching and WTF’s. I like simplicity with va-va-voom results. This was born of a what-the-hell, let’s see if this works mindset. Voila, it works like a charm AND it’s really fun! Now, let us om…and ombre.

watercolor tee diy

You’ll Need:

  • a plain white tee (cotton is best, cotton/poly blends will work, too). MUST be freshly washed with NO fabric softener or fabric sheets used.
  • soft fabric paint (MUST be “soft,” or your finished tee will dry hard!). both tulip and decoart make good quality soft fabric paint.
  • spoon + paint cup + container of water
  • paper towels + large garbage bag
  • 2 hangers (pants hangers w/clips = ideal)
  • optional: professional textile detergent (excellent for prepping the tee to take the dye, as well as for setting the dye at the end of the process. i like dharma trading’s detergent — it’s non-toxic.)

How To Ombre Dye a T-Shirt:

ombre clothing diy

1. Depending on the size of your tee + how saturated you want your color, squirt out a silver dollar-sized dollop (or larger) into your paint cup. You can always go back and add more or mix a new batch if the color isn’t as deep as you want. Tip: Remember that the color will lighten after the first wash.

dip dye diy

2. Fluff open the garbage bag, roll the sides over and down a few times. Place your paint cup and spoon inside the bag — this is your workspace. Pour approximately 1/2 cup of water in your cup + mix thoroughly with the paint. Grab your tee, wet it completely in the sink, and wring it out slightly. Put the t-shirt inside the garbage bag.

ombre how to tee

3. Drizzle the paint across the top half of the t-shirt. Concentrate most of it at the very top.

t-shirt watercolor dye effect

4. Now rub the paint in, using squishing, rubbing, + dough-kneading motions to blend it. If you need more water, add it in small amounts. A little bit goes a long way. Tip: Gently wring some of the liquid out into the bottom of the bag, spread out the tee, and re-soak up the dye. This helps gradiate the color.

how to make an ombre t-shirt

5. Clip the hangers on to the bottom of the tee. You need two to spread the shirt apart, so the color doesn’t gather in wrinkles or folds. This is also part of the ombre process, as the dye runs back down to the top of the tee, concentrating there and enhancing the gradient.

6. As the shirt is still very wet and dripping, it’s best to hang it in your shower or an outdoor space. Spread the garbage bag beneath it to catch drips. Put a few more bags/tarps/etc. around the area so that nothing gets stained by splashes or leakage. Let the tee dry and set for 72 hours.

7. Machine wash in cold water with professional textile detergent to set. Hang to dry or tumble in the dryer on low.

ombre diy tshirt

Wear it, love it, and don’t be too surprised when people stop you and say, “Oh. My. Ombre. Where did you buy that?!”


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Comments (5)

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  1. Patrick says:

    looks fun!

    seeing those t shirt labels makes me think of making custom labels for my clothes.

  2. Sivana says:

    That is awesome! I wanna try it out!