With summer right around the corner and always looking for sun protection for the family, a tie dye bucket hat seemed like the perfect (and colorful) project.
In the step-by-steps below, I’ll show you 2 different patterns (spiral and crumple) that work really well for the hats and are great for both beginners and the experienced. For the spiral pattern, I wanted super colorful rainbows, so you’ll see how to use 6 colors (shown throughout) and 3 colors (at the end). For the crumple pattern, we did a bit of a twist with ice dyeing and using pastel dyes for very different and more subtle look.
Onto the supplies….the full list is below, but I found these bucket hats on Amazon and was pretty amazed that they fit my big head (they come in 2 sizes) and dye REALLY well! And as always, I used Tulip’s one step dye which I love for its ease of use, bright colors, and quality of dye.
These tie dye bucket hats were a big hit with my kids and husband. So much that I barely got pictures of them before they were fully in use in the backyard and at the pool. I look forward to making more and hope you enjoy! Let’s get started!
FOR COMPLETE TIE DYE 101 BASICS: HOW TO TIE DYE: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE
LOOKING FOR MORE THINGS TO TIE DYE? 30 THINGS TO TIE DYE
Tie Dye Bucket Hat
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
- Bucket Hat (Adult Sizes) (Kids Sizes)
- Dye Kit (Which Includes Rubber Bands, Gloves, And A Plastic Sheet)
- Rubber Bands
- Plastic/Rubber Gloves
- Plastic Covering For Work Surface
- Painter’s Tape (optional)
- Baking Tray With Rack (OR Rack Over Another Bucket/Sink–for Ice Dyeing)
- Paper Towels/Rags
- Gallon Plastic Bag or Plastic Wrap
- Cardboard For Ring Around Hat (For Ice Dye Pattern)
CREATING THE PATTERNS
For any of these designs, start with damp, but not wet hats. The hats could be fresh out of the washing machine. If you washed them a different day, like I usually do, then just dunk the hats in a bucket of water or sink and wring them out before starting. NOTE: For the ice dyed hat, you could start with a dry hat, but the dye will be less spread out. For more details, check out How To Ice Dye.
1. Set the hat on your work surface and pull the center of the hat up, so you know where it is. Using your fingers, hold the center point, push it straight down and start twisting.
2. Continue to twist the hat into a circle. As you get to the thick rim, you may need to help create folds to help it twist easier. Secure with 3 rubber bands and adjust them, so they are fairly evenly spaced. Add a last rubber band around to hold everything in place.
Crumple Pattern (Ice Dye Technique)
1. Scrunch up the center area of the hat. Continue to gather up the rim of the hat and scrunch it towards the center of the hat.
2. Once you have the majority of the hat crumpled together, start adding rubber bands to secure the shape. Continue to add rubber bands as you work your way around the hat. Be sure to scrunch the fabric together and not fold it on itself or the pattern will not look the same. When you have a circle created, add the last rubber band around it to secure everything in place.
NOTE: I found this pattern harder to do with a hat than a shirt as the hat is thicker. Just keep adding rubber bands!! It doesn’t have to be pretty, just secure. You can always adjust the rubber bands once they are added too.
DYEING THE HATS
Baking sheet/rack versus just a workspace covered in plastic: I have dyed MANY items on just a covered workspace. As long as you have a ton of paper towels and are careful, you will be fine. It is, however, MUCH easier and more environmentally friendly (i.e. paper towel usage) if you use a baking sheet and rack because any excess dye goes directly onto the pan, away from your hat, and you barely need to use any paper towels. If you plan on tie dyeing a number of items now or in the future I strongly suggest the investment (and the ones I purchased are not expensive).
3. Set your hat on the baking sheet/cooling rack or covered workspace and put on your gloves. Start with your lightest or weakest color which is yellow in this case and fill in a wedge of the hat. Make sure to add extra dye and let it soak in, so it can get to the center of the hat.
4. Continue to add the rest of the colors, working your way around the hat. TIP: If you are using the baking sheet, you can turn the sheet and not have to touch or move the hat while dyeing.
5. When you have finished dyeing the first side of the bucket hat, carefully turn it over. You will want to wipe up any access dye on the rack or workspace before laying the hat back down. Repeat the dyeing process starting with the lightest color again. Carefully place it in the gallon plastic bag or wrap the rest of the hat in plastic wrap. Personally I prefer the plastic bag as you can easily seal it, label it (if you are dyeing more than one item) and move it if needed without worrying about dye leaking out.
Crumple Pattern (Ice Dye Technique)
3. Once the hat has been secured with rubber bands, you will need to create a ring around the hat to hold the ice and the dye. I used some cardboard I was going to recycle and packing tape (I normally use painter’s tape, but I ran out). It doesn’t need to be fancy, just functional. Place the hat inside the ring and onto your tray/rack. Add 2-3″ of ice on top of the hat.
4. For any dyeing technique, always start with the weakest color (which is usually yellow) and finish with the strongest (which is blue) . Since the dye is already in a squeeze tube, conveniently, just take the cap off and gently squeeze to get the dye to come out. Move around the hat adding dye, so its not evenly distributed (if you do, the hat will mainly come out one color). Continue to add each color in the same method.
5. After 10-12 hours or so, the ice will have completely melted and the dye will have been disbursed throughout the hat. Place the hat in a plastic bag, like we do with traditional tie dye (and I would recommend that, so the colors are more vibrant), so the dye can cure.
RINSING AND WASHING
Let the hat sit for minimally 6-8 hours and up to 24 hours max for either pattern, so the dye can cure. This will help produce the brightest colors. Once the dye has cured, it’s time to rinse and wash the hat. This is an important step as, if done in the wrong order or rushed, it can muddy up the nice colors and pattern you created.
6. Place the hat in a sink or bucket (something that can get dirty and won’t stain). We have a stainless steel kitchen sink, so I use that. Rinse the hat in COLD water. The cold part is critical because it allows excess dye to wash out slowly while not moving dye to other parts of the hat.
7. Repeat this rinse process several times until the water is fairly clear.
8. Once the water is fairly clear, repeat the rinse process once more, but with luke warm water (not HOT). This should get the last bit of excess dye out before putting it in a washing machine.
9. Once the hat is thoroughly rinsed, you can wash it in the washing machine either by itself or with several other rinsed tie dye items. If I’m tie dyeing a bunch of items, I will put up to 6 in one load. Wash on warm or cold with a bit of detergent.
10. Dry the hat in the dryer or let it air dry. Personally I prefer air drying as it extends the life of the dye color (as they will eventually fade a bit with washing and wear).
NOTE: Wash the hat by itself or with other tie dye items for the next few washings before adding it in with your other clothes.
FINISHED TIE DYE BUCKET HATS
So, here are the finished hats! For the spiral pattern I tried 6 rainbow colors and 3 primary colors to see what the difference would be. They both were very bright and moved from one color to the next very nicely. Whether you used secondary colors (Orange, Green, Purple) or blended to get them as I did in the 3 color, you can get the full rainbow on your hat. The biggest callout, in my opinion (and the reason I tried using 3 colors) is how much yellow do you want in your hat. In the 6 colors its almost nonexistent because its the weakest color and is easily taken over by the other colors. With 3 colors there is a much larger wedge of yellow, so not all of it is blended away. Both are beautiful! You decide.
The iced dyed bucket hat is much more subtle, but that’s mostly because I used pastel dyes. It will have more light areas than the spiral pattern because the ice controls where the dye goes. To get a better idea of how a lot or a little dye affects ice dyeing check out: How To Ice Dye.