D.I.Y. Tie-Dye Shirts

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Contributor: Loryn Aman

Description: A Do-It-Yourself project using Sharpies to tie-die a t-shirt.


  • Multicolor Sharpies
  • Eye Droppers
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • White T-Shirts – or ask participants to bring their own
  • Cardboard Squares

Equipment: Space for teens to work at. This can get messy so keep that in mind.

Number of People: Depending on your budget, anywhere from 15-30.

Target Audience: Tweens and High Schoolers (I only had 2 boys out of 18 participate so it may appeal to girls more than boys)

Cost: $80 (includes snacks)

  • Multicolor Permanent Fine Point Sharpies: usually about $12 for a pack of 12. You’ll want a bunch of colors. $48
  • Eye Droppers (one for each participant): I ordered some from Amazon.com (Learning Resources Eye Droppers, Set of 12). $14
  • Rubbing Alcohol: I got a bunch of bottles from the Dollar Store. $8-10
  • White Shirts: I only bought one pack of white shirts at Walmart in case a teen forgot theirs. $5

Prep Time: About 2 hours to go and buy supplies and cut up cardboard or old posters to go in the shirts.

Program Time: 60 minutes


  1. Have each participant take their white shirt and place the cardboard inside the shirt so that the Sharpie won’t bleed through. Have them choose the color Sharpies they want to work with.
  2. Once they have colors chosen, they can start making dots on their shirt in any pattern or color combination they want. After they have made their design, they take the eye dropper and fill it with rubbing alcohol and drop it onto the Sharpie colored areas. This will make the Sharpie bleed out. The more alcohol that is used, the more spread out the color will become.
  3. Have the teens leave the cardboard in until the shirt has dried (this will take about an hour depending on how drenched their shirt is). Towards the end, the teens get impatient with dotting and eye dropping so they started to draw instead of dot and pour/drip their shirts in the rubbing alcohol. It worked either way.

Websites: CherryBlossom56: DIY: Sharpie Tie Dye and San Leandro Public Library’s D.I.Y. Event Photos

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