How to Make Matching Mickey Tie-Dye Shirts for Your Next Disney Vacation

Making Tie-Dye Shirts
Photo: JennaOPhoto/Twenty20

Are you one of those families? You know, those families who love to wear matching shirts on your Disney vacations? Good, because we are, too! Not only are matching shirts great for family photos, but they also make it easier to spot wandering kiddos in a crowd. (Trust us, we’ve been there.)

When you stay at a Walt Disney World hotel, you can often find a Mickey tie-dye shirt project on the recreation calendar. There’s a small fee to make them, but matching Mickey tie-dye shirts make for a great memento of your family vacation.

How to Make Matching Mickey Tie-Dye Shirts

The Disney Parks Blog recently released the instructions for making your very own Mickey tie-dye shirts at home and we tested it out to see if it’s really as easy as it seems. We’ve had a lot of “Pinterest fails” so we went into it with high hopes, but realistic expectations that it may not look quite like the example. Keep reading to see how we made our matching Mickey tie-dye shirts (and how they turned out)!

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Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

Photo: Tarah Chieffi

For this project, you’ll need white T-shirts, a bucket of ice water, a tablecloth (or something similar to protect your work surface), plastic wrap, chalk, large Ziploc bags, and a tie-dye kit. Your tie-dye kit should include dye, gloves, and rubber bands, but if not, you’ll need to get the gloves and rubber bands separately. A wire rack and large sheet pan, while optional, will also be helpful for containing your mess.

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You’ll also need to print the Mickey outline available in the blog post. Print it out and check the sizing before you begin. If it’s too small, it’ll be hard to see the Mickey shape in your finished project. It should look like the example shown here.

Step 2: Prep Your Shirts

Photo: Tarah Chieffi

After a little trial and error (the “error” being that our first round of shirts didn’t come out and we had to start over), we learned that it’s very important to take your time preparing your shirts in order to make the Mickey shape come out clearly. If you’re working with kids under 10, you may want to prep their shirt for them and let them do the fun part: the dyeing.

Photo: Tarah Chieffi

First, use a piece of chalk to trace the Mickey shape onto your shirts. Instead of tracing the ears and Mickey’s head as they look in the printout, we traced the ears and then moved the printout down a bit before tracing the head. This gave us a little more space to work with to define the Mickey shape. 

Photo: Tarah Chieffi

Next, you need to pinch the center of one ear, pull the top layer of the shirt up, and wrap the rubber band around the chalk line. Repeat this process with the other ear and the face to make your Mickey shape. 

Photo: Tarah Chieffi

Gather up your shirt so Mickey’s head and ears are at the top and then place rubber bands no more than two inches apart all the way down until you reach the end of the shirt. Once your shirt is all tied up, soak the shirt in a large bowl of water until it’s soaked through. Wring the shirt out and set it on a tablecloth or your wire rack over a sheet pan.

Photo: Tarah Chieffi

Step 3: Choose Your Colors

Photo: Tarah Chieffi

Now for the fun part! First, choose a darker color to dye Mickey Mouse’s ears and head. (This is the one part of the dyeing process you may want to do for your kids). Choose a much lighter or contrasting color to dye the rest of the area. We even left a little white space around the ears and head so the colors wouldn’t bleed together.

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Again, this will help define the shape. Continue dyeing the shirt in your preferred color pattern, ensuring you use enough dye to soak to the middle layers of the shirt. 

Photo: Tarah Chieffi

When you’re happy with the pattern, wrap the shirt in saran wrap and place it in a Ziploc bag to let that gorgeous color soak in. The hardest part for us was waiting the recommended 24 hours before unwrapping our shirts to see how they turned out. We managed, though.

Photo: Tarah Chieffi

Step 4: Rinse and Wash

Photo: Tarah Chieffi

When the 24 hours is up, put on a fresh pair of gloves, remove the rubber bands, and rinse the shirts out in the sink. Then, toss them in the washing machine (make sure nothing else is in the machine other than your tie-dye shirts) and give them a spin in the dryer before showing off your creations.

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The Verdict on Our Matching Mickey Tie-Dye Shirts

Photo: Tarah Chieffi

Like we said, our first round of matching Mickey tie-dye shirts looked OK, but the Mickey was not as defined as we would have liked. We learned a few things from our attempt, though, and implemented a new strategy our second time through. Luckily, our plan worked!

We wish the instructions in the Disney blog post and video had been a little more clear, but we were really happy with the final results on our second try and can’t wait to wear these tie-dye shirts on our next trip! 

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Tarah Chieffi is a theme park and family travel journalist who discovered her words were best used to help travelers plan fun-filled family vacations. When she isn't eating theme park food and riding roller coasters, she can be found cycling wherever her bike will take her, tucked under the covers with a good book, or planning her next adventure with her husband and three young sons.

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