5 Little Monsters: Tie-Dyed Pillow Tutorial

Tie-Dyed Pillow Tutorial

tie-dye pillow tutorial

A few months ago I attended Snap Conference here in Salt Lake and I had the opportunity to meet lots of sponsors and try out some of their products. After Snap one of the sponsors, I Love to Create, sent me a giant tie-dye kit. My kids were super excited when they saw it and they wanted to tie-dye some shirts right away. I really wanted to use it to make something else, shirts just seemed too obvious and I wanted to try something different. Although the truth is, we used 3 bottles of dye out of the 20  I had so I am sure we will probably end up making t-shirts at some point. Recently I have had the opportunity to start working with another company I met through Snap, Fairfield World, and they sent me some of their product to use in some of my projects. One of the things that they sent me were some pillow inserts. That gave me the idea to try making some pillow covers for them using the tie dye.

I really didn't want the big 70's-ish rainbow bullseye that you think of with tie-dye, I wanted something a little more subtle so I chose a couple of simple designs and only used one color of dye on each pillow. I let my two oldest kids each make one and they both used two colors on theirs. I planned on taking more pictures during the process but once the kids had the dye out and started squirting things got pretty crazy and no pictures got taken.

A couple of things I learned to help you avoid making some mistakes we did...

  1. When it says to prewash to wash out the sizing, you really need to do that and it helps to dye it while it is still wet. I didn't and I was using a heavier weight fabric so I was already a little nervous about whether or not the dye would work on it. I'm not sure if it was because of sizing or something in the fabric but our first attempt (the kid's pillows) the dye just rolled right off. I took the rest of our stuff in and washed it in the sink, then took it back outside to dye it right away while it was wet. It worked much better.
  2. Wear gloves. They were provided in our kit and the kids put them on but then they started on the dry pillows and dye started sliding off everywhere I reached in with my hands, trying to stop it and help it soak in, even though I hadn't had a chance to to get my gloves on. My hands were green for days, it didn't matter how many times I washed them. 
  3. If you plan on tie-dying with little kids just know it will be messy. It is probably a good idea to have more than one adult or to have the kids take turns rather than just all go at once. My oldest two did pretty good by themselves once everything was working right but even so it was pretty crazy. My 3 year old squirted on so much dye that her fabric was just sitting in a puddle. After we were done I swore I would never do something like that with kids again. We probably will, just be prepared for a little bit of chaos. 

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If you want to make some tie-dyed pillows of your own here is how we made ours:

Tie-Dyed Pillows

I made 14 inch pillows because that is the size of pillow inserts I had. If you want to make a different size you will need to adjust your fabric amount and cutting sizes. These instructions are for the 14 inch size.

You Will Need:



1- 15 inch square
2-15x10 inch rectangles


Hem one long side of each of the 15x10 inch rectangles. Lay one piece right sides together on your 15 inch square so that the raw edge lines up with the top and the hemmed edge is toward the middle. Lay the other rectangle face down so the the raw edge lines up with the bottom of your square and the hemmed edge is overlapping the other rectangle. Sew all the way around with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Turn right side out. 


Prepare your pillows for the dying process by wrapping your rubber bands where you want. The placement will depend on the design you want to create. For the striped pillow I scrunched the pillow cover from side to side and wrapped rubber bands around every couple of inches. For the dotted pillow I pinched up small sections of one layer at a time and wrapped rubber bands around it. Then follow the instructions for your dye. The kind I used you add water then just start squirting wherever you want the dye to be. After that you wrap it in plastic wrap and wait for 6-8 hours before rinsing, washing and drying. Because the pillows are not going to be worn I just rinsed them really well, dried them and pressed them with a hot iron to hopefully help set the ink. When I need to wash them I will definitely plan on washing them by themselves because I am worried there may still be some running, but for right now they look good.

There are so many different tie-dye patterns you can try to get lots of different looks. My son did spots with 2 colors. My daughter randomly squirted dye in different places around her pillow. She loved the way it turned out, I think partially because she knew she made it, it wasn't the look I was going for but it was fun to see her so excited to take it in and put it on her bed. Tie-dye or even just dye in general is not something that I have used a lot and it was really fun to try something new and my kids love their new pillows.

I received product from Fairfield World and I Love to Create  for this project, as well as compensation from Fairfield World. 

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