For me, summertime has always been about projects. As the school year winds down, I begin to make lists in my head of all the ways I want to spend my time: I will read nothing but Jane Austen novels, I will photograph something every day, I will teach myself to sew. Sometimes I accomplish these things, and sometimes I don’t – but every year, I begin the summer with a hopeful bunch of plans and although I’ve never managed to complete them all, I’ve also never ignored my list completely. I may not do everything, but I always do something, and the break is a little more interesting because of it.
This summer, the project at the top of my list was tie-dye. I don’t know what possessed me. I’ve always been sort of indifferent to the aesthetic. I have owned exactly two pieces of tie-dyed clothing in my life: One was an oversized t-shirt I dyed at summer camp when I was seven, and the other was a pink and purple shirt I bought on sale on a family vacation last summer. I’ve neither loved nor hated either of these pieces of clothing. Sometimes a shirt is just a shirt. Multicoloured swirls and I had no real relationship – happy, sad or otherwise.
So how, on a Saturday evening in June, did I find myself crouched in my backyard, soaking a white t-shirt in a container of purple dye? I have no idea. But it happened, and it will probably happen again. I had so much fun.
The whole process was pretty basic. I took a cotton t-shirt, wrapped pieces of it in rubber bands, and then stuck it in a container full of RIT clothing dye. I ended up dyeing a few other things as well – the most exciting of those being a set of pillowcases, although I have yet to use them because I have a fear of waking up with my face all splotched with yellow and red and blue. I did my dyeing the cheap and easy way, but there are a lot of ways to get really serious about your hand dyeing, too. The best website I found while researching was this one which provides really detailed explanations of different dyes and fabrics and techniques (including one called Batik, which is a resist dyeing technique that uses wax).
I ended up with a pretty great shirt – and maybe by the end of the summer, I’ll have dyed a few more. But even though the clothing was kind of the point, the t-shirt feels like more of an added bonus to the whole tie-dye experience. I am happy to have a new shirt or two – but I am even happier to have had an evening sitting in the grass, my hands covered in dye, excitedly unwrapping freshly-coloured fabric and anticipating the results. With this project, I wasn’t in it for the clothing as much as I was for the sunshine and the laughter and the clothesline full of brightly coloured fabric strung up from the fence.
But, the clothes are cool, too.
- Hailey Siracky