Young Adult Programs

Wild Wear!

Length of Program

2 hours

Program Description

A blast from the past, the art of tie-dyeing is as much fun today as it was in the 1960s. Whether participating teens choose to tie-dye t-shirts, pillowcases, or boxer shorts, this slightly messy program is always an artistic adventure. Plan to play some 60’s dance music and serve some groovy snacks.


To promote the program, create a display of books on 60’s music, culture, art, and tie-dying, and examples of tie-dyed clothing.

Select a room that will be easy for you to both make and clean up a mess, or consider doing this craft outdoors. Consider asking fellow employees or adult volunteers to help. This activity is very hands-on and will require some adult supervision.

Books to Display

  • Austin Powers: How to Be an International Man of Mystery by Michael McCullers and Mike Meyers.
  • Flashing on the Sixties by Lisa Law and Ram Dass.
  • The Hippie Handbook: How to Tie-Dye a T-Shirt, Flash a Peace Sign, Teach a Dog How to Catch a Frisbee, and Other Essential Skills for the Carefree Life by Chelsea Cain.
  • The Hippie Dictionary by John Bassett McCleary.
  • The Official World of Austin Powers by Andy Lane.
  • Tie-Dye Your T-shirt by Moira Butterfield and Emma Proctor.

Books to Booktalk

  • The Hippie House by Katherine Holubitsky.
  • My Not-So-Terrible Time at the Hippie Hotel by Rosemary Graham.
  • Shagadelically Speaking: The Words and World of Austin Powers by Lance Gould.
  • Witch Baby by Francesca Lia Block.

Bulletin Board

Get Wild—Tie-Dye!

Cover your bulletin board with tie-dye fabric purchased from a local fabric store. Or, test out the tie-dye craft and create you own backdrop from an old white bed sheet. If you cannot find tie-dye fabric or do not have the time to create your own, you can purchase tie-dye decorative craft paper from a local paper store or online from S & S Worldwide at Use a die-cut machine or stencils to create images such as a t-shirt or a peace sign, or letters to spell out “Wild Wear!” or “Get Wild – Tie-Dye!” or “Get Groovy Baby!” Place the words on the bulletin board along with information about the upcoming tie-dye program. Alternatively, cover the bulletin board with black paper and cut the letters and images from tie-dye decorative craft paper to make a visually striking display.


Place lava lamps around the program room. Hang beads in the doorway. Decorate with peace signs, smiley faces, and other symbols of the 60’s.


Groovy Gorp

Gorp, an acronym for “good old raisins and peanuts,” is a food that hikers and campers in the ‘60’s carried as a fast energy snack. Mix your own variety with nuts, small pretzels, M&M’s, raisins, etc. Serve in plastic bags or psychedelic paper cups. Oriental Trading Company sells tie-dye tableware and paper bags.

Prizes and Incentives

Tie-Dyed T-Shirt Note Pads, Slap Bracelets, and Pen Necklaces are available from Oriental Trading Company. Upstart’s reading promotion materials including tie-dyed t-shirt zipper pulls.

Audio Recordings

  • Austin Powers: Original Soundtrack.
  • Hear It Now! The Sound of the ’60s.
  • Positively 60’s.


Tie-Dye Clothing

  • Cotton t-shirts
  • Rit® Dye, in several colors
  • Water
  • Stove
  • 3 to 5 gallon pot
  • Long-handled utensil such as BBQ tongs
  • Rubber gloves
  • Rubber bands
  • Salt
  • Plastic garbage bags, plastic table cloths, or plastic tarps
  • Plastic grocery bags (one for each piece of dyed clothing)
  • Paper towels
  • Old rags to clean up dye drips

There are two basic ways to create designs when tie-dying clothing. Explain them to the teens, let them choose which method they will use, and let them prepare their garments for dying.

1. The twist/fold method. Twist or zigzag fold (back and forth as if you are making a paper fan) an item of clothing. Wrap rubber bands around the length of the twisted or folded garment.

2. The knot method. Tie knots at intervals along the length of the garment.

Before you begin dyeing, cover the floor with plastic garbage bags, tablecloths, or tarps.

Make sure any teens who will be exposed to the dye are wearing rubber gloves.

Here are the steps to tie-dye the garments.

Step1: Heat water on the stove. It doesn’t have to be scalding, just hot to the touch.

Step 2: Add the dye and a cup of salt to help the dye to set. Stir with a long-handled utensil to disperse the dye.

Step 3: Add t-shirts to the water, using the long-handled utensil. Let t-shirts sit in the water for at least 20 minutes, and up to ½ hour. Stir occasionally.

Step 4: If you want to tie-dye with multiple colors, before you dip the t-shirt in a second color of dye, move the rubber bands around a little to get a more diverse design. Begin with step 1 and proceed through step 4 for each color. Be sure and have plenty of paper towels and old rags around for quick clean ups, as cloth dye can stain any surface when it is left longer than a few seconds.

Step 5: Carefully remove each t-shirt from the pot with the long-handled utensil and put it into a plastic bag. Each teen will take his or her t-shirt home in a plastic bag. The dye will set during the next 12 to 24 hours. As they leave, remind the teens to each remove their t-shirts from the bags in 12 to 24 hours. Upon removing the t-shirt, each teen will need to rinse off the excess dye by running the t-shirt under warm running water. After this first rinse, they then cut off the rubber bands and rinse until the water runs clear. Finally, they need to run the garment (separately, as the dye will stain other clothing) through one hot water cycle in the washing machine followed by one cycle in the clothes dryer. After this first wash, the garment should be safe to wash with regular laundry.

Variation: If you lack the time to gather the necessary materials for the tie-dye craft, or you do not have access to a stove to heat the water required by most dyes, you can purchase a tie-dye kit and have participating teens bring in a t-shirt they want to decorate. All you have to do is add tap water to each bottle of dye included in the kit. No heating is required. You can purchase Jacquard tie-dye kits in some craft stores or online from Art Supplies Online at The $19.95 kit includes everything you need for 15 shirts, except the shirts.


If you have public performance rights, show these videos and DVDs during a movie program. Otherwise, display them for home use.

  • Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. (100 minutes)
  • Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. (115 minutes)

Web Sites

Family Crafts: Tyin’ and Dyein’

This easy to navigate site includes basic directions for tie-dyeing along with information about supplies.

Paula Burch’s How to Tie-Dye

In addition to a great photo gallery of tie-dyed items, this site includes direction for various tying methods, instructions for mixing colors, and a list of suppliers for materials.


Send a virtual tie-dye to a friend, learn the basics of tie-dye, and discover additional crafts.

Sixties City

Everything you’d want to know about the 60’s and more, including fashion fads, music, movies, television shows, and art.

Professional Resources

Tie Dye! The How-To Book by Virginia Gleser.


Texas Reading Club 2005 Programming Manual / Go Wild...Read!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011