Make It Yours | Tie-dyed Shorts

I love living in the city.  I also love wearing white.  This combination can be  problematic, as the former and the latter just can’t seem to get along.  Case in point: My favorite pair of white shorts…


Yes, they may look a little ragged and pathetic now, but when I bought them at H+M two summers ago they were crisp, pure white perfection with excellecnt fit in the waist and much coveted (in my case) full ass coverage.

Alas, two summers of sweating, subway riding, and my own inability to consume beverages without incorporating them into my outfit have taken their toll on my darling little shorty shorts.  I couldn’t bear to throw them away.  Clothes that fit well are so hard to find….Then  I made an egregious yet serendipitous error.  I hung my freshly laundered, damp white shorts over the back of our red vintage kitchen chairs.  The chair dye seeped into the shorts in a very random and unflattering pattern on the back.  The only way to save them would be to dye over the mistake…Tie-dye!!!


You can pretty much tie dye anything that is made from cotton, or a cotton blend.  Polyester won’t dye, but if you have a cotton-poly blend, the dye will take to the cotton parts, “heathering” the fabric (like a gray tee shirt), which can look pretty neat. The shorts in question are 100% cotton, so I was good to go.   Not only do my formerly grimy shorts now look  f’ing awesome, I had a blast tie-dying like it was 1996.  Here’s what you need to Make It Yours:

Rit Dye powder dye in color of your choosing.  I used Rose Pink. (1 box per 3 yds fabric)

Large basin or Pot (must be able to contain 2 gal. water, plus items to be dyed)

Rubber Gloves

Wooden Spoon (that you will never never NEVER use again to cook with!!)

String, twine or rubber bands


1) Fold shorts lengthwise like an accordion from waistband to hem.


2) Fold the folded shorts in half.


3) Tie off, or rubber band the shorts into sections a few inches apart.  You can do as few or as many as you like.  I did three sections with string.


4) Prepare dye.  Dissolve one packet of dye powder in 2 gallons of very hot water.  You should add the dye to to water after it has ben heated*

5) Submerge shorts roll in water and stir continuosly for 5-8 minutes.  Check periodically to monitor the dye saturation to make it as light or dark as you want.


6) Remove from dye and rinse the roll under cool water until it runs clear.  Remove string and rinse again.


7) Accordian fold shorts in opposite direction.  Repeat steps 2-6.

8) Once shorts have been untied and rinsed, wash them in cool water with a small amount of mild detergent.  Squeeze out  as much water as possible and hang to dry.  Make sure to hang them in an area where they cant drip on anything.


9) Wear and enjoy!

* Dye is a toxic substance.  Although for lack of a better space,  I worked in my kitchen, its not reccomnded.  If you do work in your kitchen, be very careful bout keeping the dye and dye equiptment separate from your eating things, spillage etc.

For more information about dyeing and other ideas, check out the Rit website.


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