We’re delighted to partner with Heidi Gustad of Hands Occupied to bring you a series of kits to bring a little DIY to the library! Read on to learn more about this STEAM-friendly activity and download the Kit to use in your library. Don’t forget to check out all of Heidi’s posts for us HERE. Cheers! ~Erinn

HandsOccupied_TieDyeScience Meets Crafts Program Kit: Permanent Marker-Dyed T-shirts

HandsOccupiedLogoby Heidi Gustad

Hello again, LAIP readers! This is Heidi from Chicago, and I’m a DIY blogger at Hands Occupied as well as a librarian. Today I’ve got a program kit featuring permanent marker-dyed shirts. They’re not only creative and colorful, but it helps teach chemistry concepts. AND, by some library miracle, it’s cool enough that older teens can get into it.

As a Teen Librarian, I understand the challenges of putting together programs that get teens engaged–let alone excited–about a library program. Ironically, I first made these permanent marker-dyed t-shirts in high school chemistry class as an actual teen. It was so fun, I still remember how to make them today and have used the technique for other craft projects when I didn’t have traditional dye on hand or didn’t want to make a huge mess.

For more information on the science behind this project, I recommend this link.

Supplies, Supply Sources & Costs


Program Prep

Check out How to Make a Mess Free Tie Dye T-shirt for the step by step on making these one at a time. I encourage you to make one yourself before the program to have an idea of how the process works and to have a finished shirt on hand as a sample.

Other than that, there’s not much you’ll need to do other than gathering supplies and protecting your library’s tables with plastic tablecloths.


Patrons will need to wipe down their work area after they’ve dyed their shirts so there’s a clean place to set their shirts to dry. Depending on how wild they got with their shirts, they might need to dry overnight. I recommend planning on letting the shirts dry overnight. You should also remember to have them write their names on their shirts’ tags with a permanent marker before they leave the program.

Appropriate ages: middle school, high school, adults

Approx. Cost: $2.33/shirt + $0.12 per marker + $0.04/oz. rubbing alcohol + $1 plastic tablecloth + $0.07 per cup = $8 (but this can vary depending on where you get your supplies, particularly the shirts)

Concepts Demonstrated, Skills Learned: the combination of colors, molecule movement & polarity molecules, solubility

Want More?


HeidiGustad_HandsOccupiedHeidi Gustad is a librarian in Chicago and an experienced DIY blogger. She is the Founder & Editor of Hands Occupied, a craft blog sharing projects, instructions and inspiration for adding a little DIY to your life! Through Hands Occupied and her other craft writing, Heidi has worked with Michaels, Etsy, Plaid Crafts, Kia, and more. You can also find her writing at Craft Gossip, Mod Podge Rocks, and Houzz. 

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