Tutorial: How to tie dye with sharpie markers

Sep 7th, 2011

My sister in law Jessica told me about a fun concept, and I decided to try it for my bunco group. Jessica is the young women’s president in her ward, and they used this idea to make t-shirts for girls’ camp. I had no idea that you could tie dye t-shirts with sharpie markers.

Items needed for this project:
White t-shirts
Sharpie markers in the colors of your choice
A spray bottle
70% or higher rubbing alcohol

Step 1: Decide the pattern that you want to use. For my project, I wanted each t-shirt to say “Bunco Rocks” so I printed out the pattern onto a piece of paper. Then I placed the piece of paper underneath the t-shirt and traced it. If you have good handwriting you can eliminate this step, but I didn’t trust myself. I wanted all the t-shirts to be exactly the same.

Step 2. Draw your desired pattern onto your shirts with your sharpie markers. (Warning, make sure you have something that protects that back of your shirts. I actually used a storage container lid so that the sharpie wouldn’t bleed through the shirt onto the back).

Step 3:  Take your shirt outside and spray it with your rubbing alcohol. I drenched mine with the rubbing alcohol. It will make the sharpie bleed and create the tie dye look.

Step 4: Continue to spray until you get the desired amount of bleeding.

I held my t-shirts upright so that the bleeding would go directly down the front of the t-shirts.

I used all different colors and patterns to individualize the shirts.

Step 5: Let the t-shirt dry completely.

Step 6: Put it in the drier on high heat for 20-30 minutes to set the marker into the fabric. (Warning, we did this and the sharpie still bled when we washed our shirts for the first time, so make sure that you wash them separately or you will have a rainbow colored batch of laundry).


  1. Those look like fun! Have you done the tie dye shirts with spray paint?!? They are totally just right for you and your love of spray paint. If not, they are way fun too. You Tube: Punk tie dye (I think. We did them for activity days and the girls LOVED them! So easy.

  2. Very cool!

  3. Oh that's neat – thanks for sharing!

  4. If you soak them in vinegar for at least 10minutes before you wash them, they shouldn't bleed anymore! :)

  5. Bina, that's what I was going to say! Vinegar helps stop bleeding in clothes. It's crazy the stuff vinegar can do!

  6. This is a cool concept, but I have to be totally honest here. Due to the placement of the words and the downward running of the color, it looks like something exploding out of the boobs (crayola breastmilk?). Maybe it is just how I see it, but that was my very strong first impression. Sorry Brooke- not trying to be a downer, just giving some feedback. Love your blog and and all your awesome projects.

    • that is hilarious!
      planning to do this with a couple of young girls with the method posted elsewhere using cups and rubberbands, and was making note to myself to make sure the design rounds are placed not inappropriately. :)

  7. What a great idea! Ive got to try it. Thanks so much for sharing this technique

  8. This is so cool!!! My dance team was just talking about making shirts…I think they will LOVE this!! Thanks for the idea!!


  9. What a fun idea! I love sharpies :) I just used them to decorate an old leather backpack that my Dad passed on. They have so many uses!

  10. Interesting idea. If you wash the shirts in vinegar, it'll help set the colors so they won't run. That might help with the rainbow wash.

  11. Wow! I had no idea you could do this with Sharpies, awesome! I will have to try it!

  12. featured this awesome craft on my blog today! love it! love you!


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