Friday, April 8, 2016

G is for Glue Batik

Guys! I finally got a good one!

While scrolling through Pinterest, I found this pin:

I thought the t-shirt was cute before I even saw how (relatively) easy it was to make.

The design is made by doing a knock-off batik. Batik is a method of adding designs to fabric by making a design with wax and then dyeing the fabric. The parts covered with wax resist the dye, and then the wax is scraped off, leaving a design in the original fabric color.

Materials were simple: a cotton t-shirt, Elmer's Washable School Glue Gel (it's blue), and fabric dye.

For the record, I have never dyed anything other than my hair in my life. 

While you could draw a design of any kind on the t-shirt, I liked the way this t-shirt had a quote written on it. I decided to make this t-shirt for my daughter, who I could count on to wear the shirt to sleep in if nothing else, and I chose some of the lyrics to one of her (current) favorite songs, "Best Day Of My Life" by American Authors.

It wouldn't be me if I had read ALL the instructions before I started, but I did read to put something inside the shirt to keep the glue from soaking through to the other side. I put the lid from a Rubbermaid tub in there, then turned it over and taped the fabric in the back so it was taut and made an easier surface for writing with glue. This was NOT in the instructions, but I think it was a brilliant move on my part.  I did NOT read that the t-shirt was supposed to be wet before starting. Oops. After a few moments of panic, I searched for other sites with directions for glue batiking, and NONE of them wet the fabric first, so WHEW! 

Ruby helped me tape the t-shirt
to the Rubbermaid lid. Thanks, Ruby....

Next, I wrote the lyrics on the shirt. I had not one, but TWO near-disasters when not one, but TWO cats took turns jumping onto the table where I was working. Fletcher did step on a letter, but I was able to fix it. Fortunately for him, Elmer's glue is non-toxic, as he sat and washed his foot for a VERY long time afterwards, and I did not feel one bit sorry for him, in spite of the sorrowful looks he was sending my way.

I have mad glue-writing skills.

The instructions said it would take several hours for the glue to dry completely, but this is a lie. It took a full 24 hours for it to dry. I kept the project in the College Boy's sad, empty room; the closed door drove the cats to distraction.

When it was finally time to dye the fabric, I got out my little box of Rit Dye in teal, opened the box, took out the little paper envelope of dye, and immediately, my hands were stained blue from powder residue on the OUTSIDE of the envelope. THAT IS NOT FAIR.

My hand was blue and I hadn't even
opened the package yet.

If I were going to be real honest here, I would admit that I hadn't thought through the actual dyeing process ahead of time, pretty much just winging it.

I mixed the dye in a dishpan from the Dollar Store, not caring whether it turned my white dishpan blue (and it did NOT). The instructions said to experiment with different amounts of dye, so I just dumped the whole package into the dishpan of cool water, then swirled the t-shirt around in the mixture. It turned a deep teal, and by golly, the glue writing was resisting the dye!


The actual dying instructions ended right there, and I felt like something was missing, so I looked for, and found, another pin where someone did the same project (all done on my phone and with only one hand, and I think you should be properly impressed with that), and I saw that the next step was to rinse the t-shirt in cool water until it ran clear. This does take a lot of the color out, so I guess if I wanted the t-shirt to be deep teal, I could have left it in the dye bath longer. Fortunately, I was hoping for a light shade of teal, since I was already bored with standing over the dishpan swishing a t-shirt in dye.

Rinsing out the extra dye. There was a lot.

Next, I was supposed to lay the freshly dyed t-shirt out flat to dry. I laid it on the same Rubbermaid lid that I used when I was writing with the glue, because as much as I hate my hunter green countertops, I didn't think they would be enhanced by teal blue. 


After it dried, I tossed it in the washer and dryer, and it came out looking AWESOME.

Until I looked on the back and found this:

Although the picture accompanying the directions shows that t-shirt being dried the EXACT SAME WAY I did it, I can only figure some of the glue soaked into the back of my shirt during the drying process. (Incidentally, that site I checked for help with the dyeing process did NOT include this drying-before-washing step.)

That really sucked.

I was shocked pleasantly surprised that my daughter didn't care that you could see some of the words in reverse on the back of the shirt, and I was even MORE stunned delighted that SHE WORE IT TO SCHOOL THE NEXT DAY ALL ON HER OWN VOLITION AND DIDN'T COVER ANY OF IT UP WITH A JACKET. And what's more, SHE GOT COMPLIMENTS ON THE SHIRT FROM HER FRIENDS!

I was not allowed to show her head,
as she had just taken a shower.

In spite of a few snafus, this was a PINTEREST WIN, BABY!


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! I'm going to guess that you do REAL batik with wax and stuff, because you are amazingly artsy/craftsy.

  2. The t-shirt looks great, shame about the back but it's not that bad and at least your daughter likes it, wore it, and got compliments about it, so that's definitely a Pinterest Win :)

    1. I figure all of that with a 17 year old girl is a major win. She wants to make one now.

  3. This is very cool and I am uber impressed with your glue writing skills.

    1. Thank you. I acquired my glue writing skills teaching preschool. I can write with glue, with markers, with crayons, with pencils, with glitter, with puffy paint, upside down, sideways, and backwards, if necessary.

    2. I imagine your handwriting expertise came in really handy here!

  4. Oh wow i love it ... and going to try it.... yay a win... when i was a young teenager i would dye tees with tea bags and onion skins. Ha ha yup that's what i did :)

  5. This is so cool! I can think of so many projects... :D #AtoZChallenge

    1. It really was fun! At the second site I used to help me with the dyeing, the woman did this with fabric and made cute little skirts for her little girls.

  6. These are really cool! And that is awesome that Emma wore it to school. That has to make you super proud. Maybe next time, or for Kristi's challenge, use the plastic lid while it dries?

    1. Or do I skip the drying step altogether, since the other site I checked didn't do it? Hmmmm! And yes, Emma wearing to school was BIG!

  7. What a great project. I will have to try this one. And, I am extremely impressed with the one handed emergency pinterest searching.

    Weekends In Maine

    1. Thank you for appreciating the efforts it took to do that emergency Pinterest search! Desperate times call for desperate measures. And it really was fun and easy. I definitely want to do it again.

  8. That is a sweet win! This project didn't seem overly complicated at all. It's odd that those original instructions just kind of cut off, though.

    I'm curious as to how hard it would be to make art/designs instead of words. I suppose it can only be 2 colors: the color of the shirt and the dye, but it may still be really cool. I'm glad your daughter wore it to school, she is so sweet.

    BUT we all know Ruby was the star of this challenge!

    1. I don't know if the writer assumed everyone knew how to dye fabric or what, but I certainly did NOT.
      One of the examples was of a simple sailboat, so you could do anything. The writing appealed to me, though. And I made something a 17 year old girl liked enough to wear to school? I mean, I was only expecting her to wear it to sleep in just to humor me.
      Ruby makes herself the star of everything.

  9. Ok, so I LOVE that you did this project & reported on it. I actually have that exact shirt/picture pinned (?somewhere?) on one of my Pinterest boards and had hoped to someday try it. Although I loved the idea/concept, I doubted whether it would actually work. YAY! to know that it does! AND you've already given me to what to and what not to do's so I don't have to learn on my own! I am excited to try this! ( maybe... who knows...) :) So cute though!
    Now, try this one for me & report back :) This one I really want to do, but...I'm too lazy to do the 'trial & error' thing.