Disney DIY – Hidden Mickey Tie-Dye Shirts!

Maybe it’s just me, but as my big annual trip draws near, I get so excited and need to fill up the billions of hours before we leave. One of the ways I fill up those hours is to make Mickey tie dye shirts for our travel party.  Sure, when I’m done I end up with rainbow colored hands for a few days, but the results are so worth it!  Even if you’re not crafty, this is one craft that you CAN do!  Trust me…I’m not a crafty kind of girl!   Let’s start with gathering the supplies.  

Here is what you’ll need:

  1. A 100% (or very close) white cotton shirt for each person

  2. Waxed dental floss

  3. A washable marker

  4. A sewing needle and pair of scissors

  5. LOTS of rubber bands

  6. Nitrile gloves (don’t trust the ones in the kits!!)

  7. Large and small zip top baggies or plastic wrap

  8. Dye and squeeze bottles (I like the Tulip brand…buy at least double what the kit/bottle says you’ll need!)

  9. Soda ash

  10. A dish tub and wire rack

  11. A Mickey head template

  12. Shout Color Catchers

Ready to get started?

Step 1:  Wash and dry all of your shirts.  The shirts do *not have to be new in the least…the dye will hide the odd stain or dingy look!  Don’t use any fabric softener or dryer sheets when you’re washing this time either.  It can affect how the color bonds with the fabric.  

Step 2:  Take your clean, dry shirts and fit a piece of cardboard inside as a stiffener and bleed preventer.  Place your Mickey head template where you’d like him to end up on the shirt.  Sometimes I do the hip area of a tank, but mostly I do the chest area.  Do your best to center everything, but if it’s off a little, it won’t hurt a thing.  Using your washable marker, trace around your template.  Repeat for each shirt.

Step 3:  Using the dental floss and needle, sew with a basting stitch (basic in/out stitch about ¼ inch long) around your outline.  Make sure to get tight corners where the ears meet the head.  Knot your floss with a 2-3 inch tail at the start and leave yourself a decent tail at the end.  You’ll need this in step 4!

Step 4:  Pull the ends of your floss to pucker up the Mickey head.  Use a firm, but gentle hand and make sure the ears are poking up when you’re done.  The tighter you pull in this step, the better definition your Mickey head will have.  Repeat for all shirts.

Step 5: Mix up your soda ash solution according to the package directions in your dish tub.  Place all the shirts in the tub and let soak for at least 30 minutes.  This step is very important for the final colors to be bright and bold.  Once they’ve soaked, wring them out well.  If your washer has a spin only cycle, this is your best friend right now!  

Step 6:  Lay each shirt out flat with Mickey head up.  Gather Mickey in your hand and band tightly, very very tightly, under the floss.  Use 3-4 rubber bands for this so that you have about an inch wide area of rubber bands.  Then, flatten the shirt back out and start twisting with the Mickey head, feathering the extra fabric into pleats as it twists.  You want to end up with a sort of danish shape.  Once you’re happy with your danish shape, wrap 3-4 rubber bands around it like you’re cutting a pie.  Keep Mickey up always!  

Step 7:  It’s time to start coloring!  This step gets messy, no two ways about it.  If weather allows, doing this outside is not a bad idea.  Otherwise cover your work surface with newspaper or an old shower curtain liner.  And wear something you don’t care if you ruin!  Mix your dye according to the package directions.  Start with the Mickey head.  Hold the danish so Mickey pokes out to the side.  This helps with random drips.  Use plenty of dye to saturate the fabric.  Once Mickey is colored, wrap him in a small baggie or some plastic wrap then band that again with 2-3 rubber bands.  Protect that white space to keep Mickey sharp!  Once Mickey is done, start coloring the wedges of fabric.  This takes more dye than you’ll think at first.  Make sure to get into the folds and really saturate the fabric.  I like to do this step over my dish tub on a wire rack.  It prevents pools of dye from getting where you don’t want them to be.  Once you’ve got a shirt done, wrap it in a large baggie or more plastic wrap.  Set it aside, rinse off your rack and move on to the next shirt.  

Step 8:  It’s time for a rest!  You’ve worked hard!  Pile all the wrapped shirts into your dish tub and let them soak up color for at least 24 hours.  Resist the urge to open them early!  I promise, the final result is worth the wait!

Step 9:  FINALLY!  Let’s see what these babies look like.  I always get so excited, and a little nervous with each unwrapping.  But, slow down just a second here.  Remember the mess factor I talked about earlier?  It will be less of a mess if you rinse them some before you start popping off the rubber bands.  I suggest a small pair of scissors for this step as well.  Don’t forget your gloves!  Rinse under cool water until color stops bleeding, or at least almost stops.  It takes longer than you are thinking it will, but patience pays off here.  

Step 10:  Wash with your favorite detergent an some Shout Color Catchers.  The Color Catchers help gather up all the excess dye and keep it from bleeding on to everything else.  If you’ve dyed some purple and hot pink but others yellow and lime, it might be wise to wash them as separate loads just in case.  Check out what the Color Catchers caught!

Step 11:  Sit back and enjoy your handiwork!  

Gena Gauger is a featured writer for this blog and Travel Agent with Fairy Tale Concierge.  To learn more about her and read more of her articles, click here!