May 15, 2011

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Tie Dying Diapers – A Flats/Handwashing Challenge Post!

We have some flats, but we never used them very often until recently.  It’s not that we don’t like them, they’re very versatile for folding/stuffing uses and they are breathable fabric like I like for around the house!  But sometimes it is just no fun using a plain diaper.

So that is why I tie dyed my flats!

When you’re budget conscious and choose to cloth diaper with flat diapers and cheap covers you feel as if you accepted this “plain” fate.  But you can be budget conscious and still have pretty neat looking diapers by using a cheap tie dying kit and having a fun art activity one night in your own home!  This post is on how to cloth diaper on a tight budget but still have some cute fluff.  Because we all know we love how cute our little one’s bums look in fluff!

One of our tie dyed diapers!


For tie dying diapers I used some websites for some info.

Paula Burch’s How To Tie Dye articles are great for info on how tie dying works, how to mix colors for certain colors, and what types of chemicals to use to get brighter or darker shades of colors!  Great resource!

I used These Instructions for how to learn to fold and tie the flat diapers to get the designs I want!

Tie Dying Kits

I had a Gift Certificate for Walmart so I purchased my Tie Dying kit from Walmart.  The kit I purchased was Tulip dye in the craft aisle, and they are priced $10 for the small kits (rated for 8 T-shirts), and $25 for the large 25 shirt kit with every color available.  I ended up purchasing the $20 kit rated for 20 shirts and having 6 different colors for dying. The dye from these kits does stay in the diapers and worked well for what we wanted it for (diapers for SAP’s bum!) but the dipes will look more faded than if using a higher quality dye, like I describe below.

We ended up using just half of the $20 tie dye kit when we dyed and it resulted in 13 flats, 1 prefold, 3 toddler tank tops, and a pair of toddler socks being dyed!  So this might give you a good indication of what size kit you might want.

If you really want to get into tie dying or any kind of dying, look into Dharma Trading Co!  They have great prices on different types of materials for dying and to dye (including silk scarves!) and how-to kits!  Great pricing but the shipping might get you here.  These are high quality dyes if you want something that will last and look great a long time and their kits come with the chemicals you can use to help set the dyes and make them brighter/darker in shade.  From my research the tie dye kits are the same price as the cheap Walmart dye kits, but the only difference is the shipping price from this site.  So if you plan to order other things off the site it would be worth it!  Otherwise it is your choice on which you would prefer using.

The Set-Up!

You will want to tie dye in a room with floor you can easily wipe up any messes off of!  A kitchen works great for this!  If you have small children you might want to gate off the room so that they will not come in when you are dying and … well….get dyed themselves! Keep some towels and washclothes you don’t mind getting dyed nearby and wear clothes you don’t care much about. Most dye kits come with a pair of cheap gloves but I would suggest using some nicer ones….I just used my yellow rubber ones I normally wash the floor with!

SAP being goofy wearing mommy’s yellow gloves and watching us tie dye from her Learning Tower!

On our tie dye day we gated off the kitchen and cleared the sink basin area.  SAP’s learning tower was strategically placed so she could watch us dye but could not reach anything herself unless we wanted her to.  We had plastic wrap and plastic bags at the ready to go!

SAP and I folding her flat diapers for tie dying! We’re all set up!

Tie Dying Overview

The overall plan for tie dying goes like this:

1. Wet the diapers down with water, but not too wet.

2. Tie each diaper the way we wanted it with the rubber bands from the kit.

3. Mix the dye from the kit in the squirt bottles provided.

4. Dye each diaper.

5. Transfer each diaper to a plastic bag or wrap in plastic wrap.

6. Place bags on a cookie sheet.

7. Place full cookie sheet in a heated but TURNED OFF oven so the dye can set better!

8. Leave in the warmed over for at least 8 hours…we did 24 hours

9. Rinse diapers out

10. Wash and dry dipes

11. Put on baby’s bum!

How we Tie Dyed!


We tied each wet diaper to multiple types of folds and scrunches and rolls to get a variety of designs!  We did this on our dining room table so that we had a lot of flat surface to work with but you can do it anywhere since it is before you will be working with the dyes.  For designing shapes such as hearts or diamonds having a pencil or pen around to draw the pattern you want to fold is very helpful!

Here I am drawing the outline for my heart design on the diaper!

After folding along the line for the design, put the rubber band on to hold it’s place!  That’s how you get shapes in your tie dyes!

When doing your fold for tie dying consider where you want your design centered.  For flat diapers, often that is in the upper center of the diaper, not in the exact center, if you are using the oragami fold that is most common.  If you just fold your flats in eighths for just laying in a cover you do not need to worry about this.  Also consider size of your design.  The bum on a baby is not that big, so if you keep your designs smaller in size you can fit more designs, patterns and colors that will show on your baby’s bum when you put them on him/her!

SAP got to tie her own diaper and had a blast with the rubber bands too!


When placing the rubber bands think about how many colors you want to have in the diaper you are folding/tying, and that will help you choose where and how many bands to use.  The bands help keep the colors from bleeding onto other colors and separates them.

Here are our tied diapers, and some plastic bags and plastic wrap, on the kitchen floor waiting and ready for dying!

Tie Dying!

Wait to mix the dyes until you have all your diaper folded and tied with rubber bands.  Then mix the dyes in the bottles.  Be sure to use gloves if you wish to keep the dye off your hands!  We mixed and dyed our diapers in our kitchen sink, spraying the diaper while it is in the sink helps contain the mess and you can easily rinse extra dye down the drain before it sets in and dyes your counter top or table or any other place you might want to dye.  We kept the dye bottles on our dish drainer tray and that got dyed but we didn’t much care for it, hence why we kept it there!  It helped the dye from the bottles roll down into the sink and off the counter even when the bottles were not in use.

SAPsDaDa mixing the dyes, getting ready to have some fun!

With dying your diapers, have fun!  Remember what you tied, and it will help you decide what type of coloring you want to use.  Such as a diaper you have strips on, you may want to stick to just two colors and alternate them.  Or a swirl, you may wish to put as many colors as you want in, but put them on the diaper so when they bleed onto each other two colors make a new color!  Such as red and yellow make orange, and turquoise and fuchsia make blue!  So if you got a smaller kit with less colors you can still make more colors this way!

Overall, tie dying is an experiment, so try new things out and see how it works out!   Have fun!

When I tie dyed I completely forgot how to dye my swirl, so messed it up and it had an odd swirl pattern I think.  But SAPsDaDa was the swirl master!  He loved his swirls and did quite a few!  My favorite thing to do was the shapes.  I liked to put shapes in the bum area and then different simple little designs around it that would complement it.  I think they turned out pretty good!

We did let SAP tie one of her own diapers and….god help us!  We let her dye it too!  Oh my the dye was squirting everywhere and I’m surprised it wasn’t on the carpet across the room!  But she had a blast…and I won’t let her do it again until she is older!  lol.








This was so much fun seeing SAP tie dye…but oh boy was I afraid of the mess!!!

Setting the Dye

You will need to set the dye in order to make sure it will last a long time on your diaper.  The main way to do this is to put each diaper in a separate plastic bag or wrap each in plastic wrap and let them sit for at least 6 hours.  But we did ours differently to ensure we would get good color set into the fabric and it would last the number of washes that diapers often have to go through so often!

What we did was we bagged and wrapped each diaper in plastic as you normally would.  We then placed the bags on cookie sheets, just to make them easier to handle and move around in bulk.  We had pre-heated the over to 200 degrees F, and SHUT IT OFF.  We do not want to bake the diapers or melt the plastic bags, but the heat from the over will STAY in the over with the door closed and help set the dye as the diapers are sitting!  So slide the trays into the turned off oven and let them sit for at least 6 hours, but I recommend over night or 24 hours.

Here are the dyed diapers in plastic bags/wrap and on cookie sheets in a heated but turned off over!  That’s where they sat for 24 hours (no need to reheat, keep it turned off!)

For wrapping the diapers we liked using plastic wrap for the long diapers such as the strip or bulls eye folds.  For other tricky folds like shapes and swirls the plastic bags worked nice. After putting the diapers in the over I kept checking on them…I’m a little paranoid about putting plastic in the oven!  But everything was all right!  Be sure that the diapers lye flat if there are multiple colors you only want in certain areas of the diaper you are dying, otherwise the dye might leach onto another color as it’s laying in the plastic bag.

Here I am wrapping one of SAP’s tank tops I dyed with some left over green and yellow dye in some plastic wrap. Yay for packer colors!

Rinsing / Washing the Diapers

After the dye has set in your diapers take the cookie sheets of dyed diapers and rinse each diaper.  We did this in our bath tub in our bathroom but you can do it in any sink.  Preferibly you want to rinse enough so that the water will run clear though the dipaer and there is no extra dye in the diaper anymore, though with darker dyes sometimes that is difficult to do.

What we found worked really well is to take the rubber bands off the dyed diaper, unfold the diaper all the way out, and hold it up on the back shower wall.  We then used our diaper sprayer to rinse the diaper out!  This way we found that the different colored dyes did not bleed together and we did not use as much water for rinsing as we would holding it under the faucet.  A sprayer at a kitchen sink would work for this too, or one hooked to your shower head!

Once you have the diapers rinsed as well as you would like you should wash them.  We  found it sufficient to do what is our normal diaper wash.  You should wash them separate from all your other diapers first since the dye will bleed until they are washed.

So our wash routine was to do a pre-rinse.  Then we did a cold wash with some detergent, and rinsed the diapers twice after the wash.  We dried the diapers in the dryer so the heat would help set the dye as much as possible.  In the end it did look like washing the dyed diapers all together did make the un-dyed parts of the diapers dingy looking and a little blue/purplish, but since they’re diapers and tie dyed it didn’t bother us!  After washing you could definitely see that the dye we used from the Walmart kit was a lot more faded than before, but it still looked great in our opinon!

Our Tie Dyed Diapers!!

Take a look at our results!

This is the Diamond I made, with strips on the bottom and fushia rosettes on the side of the diamond!


Notice how I centered it in the upper half of the diaper where it would be visible on her bum!


Here is one of our Bullseye folds and how it looks on SAP’s bum!

The heart I made! Again centered in the upper half of the diaper!

This is the flat diaper that SAP tie dyed herself! Silly girl!

SAPsDaDa’s Colorful Swirls!

Stripes! They got less dyed as you go to the center of the roll, but it doesn’t matter since this part won’t show at all when the diaper is folded.

I tried to do a smilie face!  Can you find the smilies?

SAPsDaDa tried putting SAP’s initials in the area where her bumm would be on the dipe, then make a splatter of colors with whatever was left at the time!  It’s, well, interesting lol
We did dye one prefold, but it used a TON of dye (4x as much as any flat did!) and it was splotchy and never rinsed clear, it took a lot of washes to get it to stop giving off dye in the wash.  So I’m not dying these anymore!

With left over dye we tie died some of SAP’s tank tops for summer and a pair of socks.  As you can tell we didn’t have much dye left!

  1. Love the Tye Dye, but, are wait for some warm weather to this project outside:)

  2. Hello! It looks like the entire family had a blast!

    Thanks for linking up with Super Stalker Sunday hop. There are so many wonderful blogs participating, I hope you’ve found a few that you enjoy. Be sure to join us again next week!

    Emily from Nap Time Is My Time

  3. Ohhh! So pretty… Looks like it was a bunch of fun making them!
    CJR @ The Mommy Blog

  4. Love it. I recently dyed some prefolds to use as burp cloths but never even considered dying my flats and keeping them as diapers. Great designs you’ve done. I may have to give this a go.

    Found you through the Sunday Stalk and am your newest follower!

  5. These are amazing! Love this idea!

    I’m stopping by from this week’s Super Stalker Sunday hop! Thanks for participating! I hope you’ll join us again next week and I hope you’ll stop by and visit me if you haven’t already!
    Mariah, FormulaMom

  6. Great blog! I’m your newest follower. Hope you can stop by and follow at
    Happy Monday!

  7. These are so cute and so creative! What a great way to jazz up plain white ones!! Love it!

    I’m following from the Super Stalker Sunday Hop! Thanks so much for joining us! I hope you can come link up with us again next Sunday!

    Have a great week,

  8. This is such a cute idea!

    Thanks for linking up on my Super STALKER Sunday! I can’t believe the response we have gotten again this week! 😀 If I wasn’t already stalking you, I am now!

    I hope you won’t be a stranger and come back next week, or even just mid week and say hello! : ) I post lots of other great things like recipes, tackles, and rambles (oh my!).

    Have you checked out my FANTASTIC Blog Hop Directory? It has at least 20 blog hops listed for each day of the week. There has to be something there to suit your fancy too. ; )

  9. Super cute!!! That is a very detailed post! Great job mama!! I wonder if the dye would irritate a little one’s skin if they have sensitive skin? Our little guy has sensitive skin so I would be hesitant to try something like this but your’s turned out absolutely adorable!! 🙂

    BTW, thanks for the comment love on my blog! I’m returning the favor, just a bit late!! 🙂 Thanks for linking up to our Super Stalker Sunday too! Hope you’ll come back every week!

    April @ Mama on a Green Mission