We all needed a little cheering up during lockdown, so it’s no surprise many of us turned to tie dye in 2020. It’s hard to be miserable wearing multi-coloured clothes and the soothing dyeing process proved a welcome distraction when we had extra time on our hands.
Although the trend has risen in popularity, tie dye techniques have actually been used to decorate cloth in Asia since the eighth century. The the term “tie dye” was first coined in the 1960s, however, when the colourful clothes became synonymous with the hippie movement.
More recently, tie dye print has been worn by celebrities including Jennifer Lopez and Kendall Jenner, and graced catwalks from Prada to Stella McCartney.
At-home craft kits give us all the chance to unleash our inner fashion designer, twisting or tying cloth and adding dye to different sections to create patterns. All the sets we tested were easy to use and included disposable gloves, rubber bands and bottles to mix the powdered dye, although hardly any came with items for dyeing.
Only a few included tablecloths, but it’s still essential to cover anything that might stain before starting, especially if children are having a go.
Consider how many items you want to dye before buying, as a small kit will be plenty for just one T-shirt, though check colours you like are included. And remember, dye must be used within 24 hours once mixed, so it’s a good idea to have extra white items ready before opening to use any surplus.
We chose our favourite kits below by dyeing T-shirts with different techniques and assessing each pack’s colours, instructions and how each item washed after dyeing.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism acrossThe Independent.
Funky Fish hoodie kit
This nicely packaged set was our top pick as it was one of the few kits that came ready to use straight from the box. Gloves, rubber bands and a handy table cloth are included so you can get started with minimal mess. The three dye colours provided are pink, light purple and ocean blue, and all were sophisticated pastel tones that weren’t overly garish, allowing for a more grown-up feel.
Best of all, the kit includes a soft, good quality white hoodie that dyed easily and looked fantastic when completed. It fit our teen tester perfectly but is quite cropped, so might not appeal to someone older. We found there was more than enough dye left over for at least another two T-shirts as well, though as always this must be used on the day of opening.
There’s a useful technique sheet to help get the tie dye effect you prefer, but it’s worth practising your tie dye on spare material first to avoid spoiling the hoodie. However, the included QR link which you scan on your phone comes up with straightforward video instructions, making this kit almost foolproof.
Buy now £29.00, Amazon.co.uk
Tulip one step tie dye paradise punch
The colours included in this tie dye kit were easily our favourite. The combination of purple, teal and fuchsia looked vibrant on clothes and didn’t fade even after repeated washing. After two washes on its own, we even took a gamble and chucked our newly dyed T-shirt in with other dark items and it still didn’t run. We found the purple was quite dark though, so best used sparingly when combined with the other shades to avoid dominating them.
The kit comes with gloves, rubber bands and a helpful guide to achieving several different looks. Our only complaint? The pack says the dye will be enough for nine projects, but we found it would only really be sufficient for four adult-sized T-shirts.
Buy now £17.49, Graffititag.co.uk
Tybo tie-dye design studio craft kit
This would make a great present for creative children as it’s considerably more substantial than most tie-dye kits available, yet still reasonably priced. It comes in a good-sized box kids will be excited to dig into, and it’s easy set up and get started. Step-by-step instructions are clearly illustrated so older children will have no problem following them without help too. It’s a lot less messier than regular tie dye kits thanks to the mixing orb, which has a one-way valve system to stop dye escaping.
Our younger tester loved squirting the dye through the holes in the orb and then turning the handle to spread the colours. We were especially impressed with how easy it was to run the final creation in cold water, keeping hands completely dye-free. Results were good, though we found smaller items didn’t dye as well in the orb, so this one is best for t-shirts. Remember that no tees are included, so it would be a good idea to add a couple if this was a gift.
Buy now £14.99, Bargainmax.co.uk
Prezzybox DIY tie dye kit
Dabbling in tie dye for the first time? This dinky silver tin is a nice way to get started, including rubber bands, two pairs of disposable gloves and three bottles of powdered dye in red, yellow and blue. The kit’s aimed at teenagers or adults rather than children, but the instructions were still simple to follow. We liked the extra tips such as how to tweak dyeing methods for brighter colours and layering too. There’s nothing included to dye but we used a white T-shirt and the effect was better than expected. You would need to buy another kit to dye a second item though, as there’s only really enough to experiment on one here.
Buy now £11.99, Prezzybox.com
Kikkerland tie dye mask kit
Like it or not, masks are the must-have item we all need now, so you may as well wear one that will stand out from the (socially distanced) crowd. Kikkerland’s tie dye mask kit contains all you need to make two completely unique face coverings to add some colour to your next supermarket trip. It includes rubber bands, a pair of disposable gloves, red, blue and yellow dye and two adult-sized adjustable face masks that were comfortable to wear. The colours came out well, although it’s worth sticking to simpler tie dye patterns as it’s tricky to recreate complicated looks on such a small amount of material.
Buy now £12.48, Fredaldous.co.uk
FabLab tie dye luxury set
A great idea for an older child’s party or sleepover, this FabLab kit comes with enough dye to make at least seven T-shirts, plus a few socks and scrunchies, so will keep a whole gang entertained. Be sure to protect surfaces and clothing if children are using, however, as the dye stains very easily.
The brightly coloured, child-friendly box comes with gloves, rubber bands and seven dye colours in applicator bottles, and we liked having turquoise and purple options rather than just standard primary colours. Instructions were also really straightforward, with good advice on where to put the rubber bands to create different effects, although we would’ve loved something to dye included in the box. Be sure to stock up on items for dyeing before opening to get your money’s worth.
Buy now £15.00, Hobbycraft.co.uk
Sparkle Labz tie dye fashion set
The ultimate tie dye bargain, we were wowed by how much this kit included for a rock-bottom price. As well as the usual rubber bands and purple, red and blue dye, the set also comes with a white tote bag, a nice quality scrunchie and a hairband, making this a great all-in kit to buy as a child’s present. Remember that rubber gloves should be worn when using though, as none are included in the box. Instructions were easy to follow, but anyone new to tie dye might need a little more guidance on different techniques to try. The items looked vibrant when finished and our teen tester especially loved the chance to dye something other than a T-shirt.
Buy now £3.99, Bargainmax.co.uk
Tulip one step tie dye super big kit
This mammoth Tulip kit has enough dye to turn your entire wardrobe rainbow-coloured. There are twelve bottles of dye included in a fantastic range of shades including black, lime and brown, great for creating a different look. As with all tie dye, each bottle must be used within hours once it’s opened, so it’s best to only experiment with a few at a time or gather a huge stack of items to be dyed in advance.
The kit would also be ideal for a party with plenty of dye for everyone to have a turn, though you would need additional gloves and rubber bands on top of those already supplied. We found the included technique sheet really helpful for inspiration, and especially liked attempting the ombre and striped look, which looked fantastic when completed.
Buy now £33.94, Graffititag.co.uk
The verdict: Tie dye kits
The Funky Fish hoodie kit is a great buy for its video instructions, ultra-wearable colours and fantastic included hoodie. For younger children, minimise the mess and choose the fun, furniture-saving Tybo tie-dye design studio craft kit, while the Tulip one step tie dye super big kit can’t be beaten for its huge range of colours and quality dyes.
Keep the creative juices flowing with our round-up of the best adults’ craft kits