DIY Guide to Tie Dye Mickey Ears Shirts

DIY Guide to Tie Dye Mickey Ears Shirts

Welcome back everyone! Today I’m back to tell you all about how I made these cool tie dye Mickey ears! Many people love to wear tie-dyed Mickey ears shirts for their Disney vacations and making them yourself can help save you some money AND be a super fun project for the whole family. That said however, the kiddos won’t be able to do EVERY step, so I’ll let you know which steps are great for the kids and which ones would be best left to the adults. 2015-08-04 23.33.56 copyI’d also suggest reading through this tutorial completely before deciding to take on this project. It’s so much fun, but could become frustrating if you haven’t read and prepared. And what’s the point if you don’t have fun?

Getting Started

There are several great tutorials on how to do these that I found on pinterest. Each of the pins I found had great info, but as always, I just read it and then go for it on my own. This allows me to include info that I might deem useful that I couldn’t find elsewhere.

2015-07-26 16.03.23copyI’d like to add that several of the diy posts about this method included photos that weren’t their own. All of the photos featured on this blog post are my own photos I shot while making this tutorial, with the exception of the last one by my very good friend Beth over at Paper Angels Photography. We had a blast doing this together with her and her family and I LOVED her photo! Now, let’s get to it!

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Supplies Needed

•t-shirts (or anything white you’d like to tie-dye)

•dyes in your favorite colors (Tulip and dharma dyes are recommended. DO NOT use RIT!)

mark-b-gone sewing marker (you could use a pencil too but it’s harder to write on and see than the marker)

•Mickey ears template (I used a Mickey ears egg maker and a Mickey ears cookie cutter for different size Mickeys, but you could always print out a Mickey template)

•rubber bands

•dental floss (just trust me on this)

•sewing needle

•baking/cooling rack

•paper towels

•cling wrap (like saran wrap)

color catchers (found near the dryer sheets in the laundry aisle)

washing soda (also found on the detergents aisle)


•old clothes or an apron


Step 1

2015-07-20 01.48.14Decide where you want your Mickey to go on the shirt. For my girls, I liked the Mickey lower on one side of the front only. Be creative and have fun with this. Just remember to not place it too low in case someone wants to tuck the shirt in. (Yes, Belle tried to tuck it into her skirt and it completely hid the Mickey! haha) Let the kiddos help you outline with the marker, because what kid wouldn’t want to draw on a brand new shirt with a MARKER?! 😀

Step 2

2015-07-20 01.53.10Sew your Mickey head. Take a deep breath, let the kids go play, and relax!! This is the easiest sewing you’ll ever do! Using the dental floss as thread, simply go up and down around the outline of the Mickey. This is also the time to decide if you want to have the Mickey show on both sides, or just one. If you’d like it to show on both sides, then you’ll sew through both layers of the shirt. If you only want the Mickey to show on one side, then only sew that one layer. We chose to do one-sided. You don’t really have to make your stitches little or the same size, they just need to stay on the outline you drew.

Step 3

2015-07-25 23.28.46Tighten and tie off. Once you’ve gotten the entire outline sewn, then take the ends and pull tight. Tie the ends as tight as possible (without breaking the floss) and trim the excess.

Step 4

2015-07-25 23.29.34Section off with rubber bands. Place a rubber band around the marker outline. This step is so much easier when using the mark-b-gone marker because it can be terribly difficult to see the pencil line once it’s tied off. You’ll want to place the rubber band directly over the outline leaving the highest part of the rubber band right at your mark line. Be sure you don’t let your rubber band go above the line.

Step 5

2015-07-25 23.29.59Rubber band the rest of the fabric. This part is where you can get creative. Most of the tutorials I’ve seen feature the spiral effect where they take the Mickey and twist the shirt until it looks like a cheese danish shape. I’m not a huge fan of this because it’s difficult to see the spiral effect. With it banded this way, you’ll simply hold the shirt by the Mickey and pull down and place rubber bands down the length of the entire shirt. It ends up looking like a snake and when opened up, it will have the same type of colored rings as the spiral does and it’s much easier to dye. I’d also say that this is definitely the way you should go if you plan to have the kiddos help! I sewed and banded the Mickeys and then let the kids help me with the rubber bands. It’s also good to note here that if you’re doing a lot of people’s shirts and they’ve requested different colors, you can attach a small colored ribbon to one of the rubber bands and note which person is which color so that when you get to the dying process you’ll know for sure whose shirt you’re working with. Just be sure to take the tag off once you start dying it.

Step 6

2015-07-25 23.30.18Soak all your shirts in soda ash. This step is easy! Decide about how much water it would take to have all your shirts soak and mix your water and soda ash accordingly. Be sure to use gloves for this part as the soda ash can be a skin irritant and let the kids sit this one out. Washing soda is not pure sodium carbonate (soda ash) so you will need to use 1/3rd more because it is 33% less pure than Soda Ash. Use 1 & 1/3 cups per gallon of water. Soak for 20 minutes or more. I prefer buying the washing soda and using the 1/3 more because I can buy a large box of arm and hammer washing soda for around $2 and get several dye sessions out of it whereas the soda ash available where the tie dyes are in the store can be up to $5.99 for ONE dye session! So, even if you plan to only dye once, it’s still cheaper to get the washing soda. Here’s a great resource if you’d like to know a little more about the soda ash process. Wring out the soda ash as much as you can. You can even toss them all in the washing machine and spin the excess water out. Just be sure to not run a rinse or wash cycle!! If you end up rinsing or washing, you’ll need to re-soak in the soda ash again.

Step 7

2015-07-25 23.30.45Decide your colors and mix your dyes. Your shirts are now soaking, so now’s a good time to mix your dyes and prepare your workstation. I purchased the tulip dyes in the packs and it takes about 1 & 1/2 tsp of dye to 4 oz of water. You can also purchase the tie dye packs that come with the squirt bottles, dye, rubber bands, and gloves. Now, set up your workstation. I used a cloth-covered card table with a plastic tablecloth from the dollar store so the kids could reach the table better. You can also use your kitchen countertop or if you’re working alone, simply sit your baking rack across and over your sink. If you’re setting up on a table, place a few paper towels under each baking rack to soak up the excess dye.

Step 8

2015-07-20 02.09.14Apply the dyes! It’s time to bring the kiddos back for the fun part!! Start by showing them how to use the squirt bottles. It’s better to place the tip of the nozzle onto the fabric and let the dye soak in rather than squirting onto the fabric. It helps keep the dyes contained to separate sections so you won’t have random dots of color that may or may not have mixed well. Believe me, it’s no fun to open your finished piece out to find that the random squirt of blue onto your orange section yielded one very odd mark of brown. If you only purchased a few colors, you can always mix them to make more colors. If you’re not sure what colors mix to make other colors, just give it a little try on the paper towel before you go for it on your shirt.

Consult the Color Wheel

I like to start by selecting what color I want the actual Mickey to be and then pick a coordinating color. If you’d like a reference, you can consult a color wheel. My Belle chose pink and green because they are across from each other on the color wheel making them complimentary colors. Also because she really likes pink and green. 🙂 Here’s some more info on the actual process.

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First, carefully dye the Mickey section, then alternate your colors down the sections of the shirt. As you dye each section be sure to wipe your (or your kid’s) gloved hands with a paper towel to remove any dye before touching another section. If you explain this to the kids before you let them begin dying, it’s much easier to keep them clean. I let the kids do ALL of the dying for these shirts and they did a great job!

Step 9

2015-07-20 02.11.33Wrap them up in sections with cling wrap. Once you’re done with a shirt, use cling wrap to first wrap the Mickey head so that it won’t touch any other part of the shirt, and then continue to wrap the remainder of the shirt.

Step 10

2015-07-20 02.13.06Place in bags and wait. I usually place them in ziploc bags too, but it’s not necessary if you’re not going to be moving them around. Now, you can relax and let them batch for however long you wish. You can go overnight or just a few hours. The longer they batch, the darker the colors will be. I let ours batch for only 4 hours because I wouldn’t be home the next morning to finish the process and they were plenty bright and saturated enough for me.

Step 11

2015-07-20 02.15.42Rinse by sections and remove rubber bands. Carefully remove the cling wrap and rinse each section before you remove the rubber bands. Try to remove as much dye as possible and the water runs clear using cold water.

Step 12

2015-07-20 02.17.26Snip dental floss and remove. Once the bands are off, you can pull apart the fabric and snip the floss. Just be careful not to cut your shirt! And be sure to call your kids back for the big reveal! That’s the best part!!

Step 13

2015-07-20 02.19.04Wash your shirts in the washing machine on hot with detergent and a color catcher. The color catcher will soak up any dye and keeps one shirt’s dye from ruining another shirt. You may want to wash them several times before getting them wet (like on a water ride etc), as they may run just a bit if you don’t.

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Additionally, after I shot all the photos and uploaded them, I began to write out the instructions to this post and stumbled across a method (I was searching for soda ash reference links) where you can use a bleach pen to essentially “erase” the dye around the Mickey shape if it doesn’t end up exactly the way you want it. I haven’t tried this method myself but seems like a great way to fix any problem areas. However, I didn’t have a need for this and if you rubber band your Mickey tight enough, you shouldn’t either. 🙂

That’s it!! Enjoy your awesome new tie-dye Mickey shirts. You can now proudly stroll through Main Street sporting your very own DIY Mickey tie dye shirt!

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If you liked this tutorial, please help us share the info with everyone else! You can like and share on fb as well as tweet it out and pin it to your pinterest board. Thanks and can’t wait to share another tutorial soon! What type of Disney craft should I do next? ~Meredith ºoº

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