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Make a Rainbow Tie Dye Shirt | Perfect for PRIDE Month!

A rainbow tie dye t - shirt on a wooden table.

June is the start of summer and Pride Month! To help you celebrate, we have the perfect project that uses the symbol of the LGBTQ+ community – the colorful rainbow. This tutorial will come in handy when hosting a tie-dye activity at a birthday party or other get-together!


While Pride Month is a celebration, it’s also important to understand the history behind the movement.

On June 28, 1969, police raided a gay nightclub on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, New York, called The Stonewall Inn. This raid resulted in a 6-day protest and riot led by Marsha P. Johnson, a black, trans, bisexual woman. She helped fight for the right of the LGBTQ+ community to have a safe place to socialize and be themselves. A year later, bisexual activist Brenda Howard launched Gay Pride Week and the Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade. Cities across America followed suit and created their own parades, marches, and celebrations.

The Rainbow Flag

At the urging of gay activist Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in the United States, artist Gilbert Baker designed a flag to symbolize pride for the LGBTQ+ community. Baker believed that the flag proclaimed a message of self-expression and acceptance: “This is who I am!” The first flags were made by hand and appeared at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day parade in 1978. When they were mass-produced, the original hot pink and turquoise stripes had to be removed due to production issues. The most common flag design we see today has these colors and meanings:

  • Red: Life
  • Orange: Healing
  • Yellow: Sunlight
  • Green: Nature
  • Blue: Harmony
  • Violet: Spirit
Colorful backlit rainbow pride flag being waved in the breeze against a sunset sky.
Ways to Celebrate Pride Month and Create Awareness
  • Check out your city’s “Visit(name of city or state).org” website for local parades, festivals, and exhibits.
  • Throw a Pride Party (our Tie-Dye Kit is the perfect activity!)
  • Watch LBGTQ+ films and documentaries
  • For kids, read stories together like Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag by Rob Sanders and A Family is a Family is a Family by Sara O’Leary

Tie-Dye Prep & Materials

We recommend using an outdoor or garage space because tie-dye can be a bit messy but we promise, not as messy as you might think! If you take a few minutes to prep your space, you can keep your area tidy.

Here is what you’ll need to have on hand:

  • Large Bucket of Water (for wetting fabric and rinsing gloved hands between colors)
  • Dye Colors 
  • Reusable Squeeze Bottles
  • Rubber Bands
  • Spray Bottles
  • Plastic Tablecloth (even when dyeing on grass)
  • Metal Rack and Tray (a cookie rack, a rack from your oven, or even a shelf from a steel wire shelf unit works well)
  • Plenty of Paper Towels
  • Rubber or Disposable Gloves
  • Old Apron or Smock
  • Sealable Plastic Storage Bags or plastic wrap
  • Washable Marker (for rainbow arc pattern)
  • Sharpie Pen (to mark your items if doing tie-dye with others)

Most of these materials come in our popular Tie-Dye Kit. Check it out today and skip your long shopping trip to the craft store!

Creating a Tie-Dye Rainbow

Lay the shirt out flat. Fold the shirt in half lengthwise and draw 2 half rainbow arches starting on the folded edge

Begin making small accordion pleats. Follow along the drawn lines, folding the pleats so that the marker line appears straight on the top of the folds:

Secure it with a thick rubber band. Put a rubber band on the lines themselves.

Continue to add rubber band sections until you have reached the end of the shirt.

Place paper towels underneath your wire rack and place your banded shirt on top. Apply the dye in rainbow color order starting with red at the top of the shirt.

How to Care for Tie-Dye Shirts

After you’ve finished dyeing, place each item in a separate plastic storage bag or wrap it in plastic wrap to keep it moist while the dye sets. Choose the best storage method to prevent the different colors from making contact with one another.

For example, a long, skinny mandala shirt is better off wrapped in plastic wrap like a burrito. A crumple/scrunch shirt will fit nicely into a storage bag.

Important! Please read before you place your item in plastic bag:

Fold the edge of the bag over about 2” before putting your shirt inside so you don’t get dye on the outside of the plastic bag.

If you’ve applied too much dye, it can “puddle” at the bottom of the storage bag and result in a brown color. If you think you’ve applied too much dye, gently wring out to remove excess and place paper towels at the bottom of the bag.

Let your items sit overnight to absorb the dye, or follow the length of time indicated on your dye instructions. In general, the longer you let the dye sit, the more intense the color will be.

How to Rinse Your Tie-Dye Shirt

Wear gloves over your sink or tub and remove the rubber bands to reveal your cool design! Rinse each item separately under hot water until the water runs clear. If you’re rinsing multiple items, don’t stack them on top of each other, or the wet dye will transfer.

How to Wash & Dry Your Tie-Dye Shirt

It’s best to wash items right after rinsing to prevent colors from bleeding onto the white areas of your shirt. If you need to wait, lay your item flat so wet colors don’t run onto other parts of the fabric.

Wash each item individually with nothing else in the machine. Set the load to Normal, Warm Water, and add a small amount of detergent.

Air drying is the best option for tie-dyed clothing. When that is not possible, use your dryer’s low or medium-heat setting to minimize fading (as well as shrinking).

Only dry the tie-dye items you washed (don’t mix with other laundry) WITHOUT a dryer sheet. Single items can stick to the wall of the dryer, so you can toss in a wool dryer ball or a tennis ball to ensure they dry all the way. Wash your creations separately for the next couple of washes to prevent the remaining dye from staining other items.

Time to Celebrate!

You’re ready to celebrate Pride Month with a vibrant, rainbow tie-dye craft project! If you’re interested in our handy dandy Tie-Dye Kit, we have great news…it ships for free! Use it as a fun, hands-on activity at your next bash! We can’t wait to see your creations. Be sure to tag us @hellodragonflyfun on Instagram and Facebook and sign up for our newsletter to receive fun DIY projects in your inbox! 


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