As vaccination rates continue to climb and COVID restrictions are lifted across the United States, many of us are looking to make up for lost time this summer, and few things scream “summer” more than tie-dye. Though the technique is ancient, the modern incarnation of tie-dye gained prominence in the US in the 1960s, and has held onto its association with peace and love ever since.
Here to help inject some of those long overdue good vibes into this summer are Liz Welker and Sam Spendlove, the duo behind the wildly successful craft blog The Pretty Life Girls, with their recently released title DIY Guide to Tie Dye Style: The Basics & WAY Beyond. No need for expensive starter kits here; this guide walks you through how to dive in with just a few simple materials—like that haphazard collection of rubber bands in the junk drawer—and the shirt off your back.
Eager to learn how we could put more fun in our sun, we got together with Sam and Liz for an interview. We think you’ll find their answers pretty groovy.
Let’s back up a second and talk a bit about your blog, The Pretty Life Girls. How did that get started?
While we were in college, there was a blogging boom. We both love to be creative and started sharing crafts, thrifted upcycles, recipes, and other things that inspired us online as a hobby. Now, ten years later, it’s still a great creative outlet, but now we get to do it on a more professional level.
The introduction to your book talks about this somewhat, but for those who haven’t bought their copy yet, tell us: why a tie-dye guide?
Tie-dye is a major trend, made even more popular during the pandemic when people needed a creative release they could do at home. The barrier to entry for tie-dye is very low, and the results are exciting, so we think that’s why it’s so popular. We got sucked into it during the pandemic as well and started testing out different methods and got a lot of questions about our projects, so we decided to put the guide together as a resource born of our trial and error.
Something that I took away from the book is how freeing it can be to release control and enjoy the unpredictability of an art like tie-dye; you can’t really get it “wrong,” and there’s something comforting in that to me. What do you most enjoy about the tie-dye experience?
There is nothing like the feeling of anticipation as you are removing the rubber bands to reveal the final result. The designs are always unique and no two projects are the same, which makes the reveal extra special. Another thing we love about it is that it continues to surprise us; there are so many methods, binding techniques, color combinations, etc. that can give you an endless number of results.
What do you feel is the most common misconception about tie-dyeing? For me, I was shocked at how simple it was to create what look to be very advanced designs—so long as you have enough rubber bands!
People are surprised at how few tools and how little skill you need to make something amazing from tie-dye. Ice dye is a great example of this—the results look very advanced, but anyone can do it, and it’s all in the application. People often express intimidation to us around tie-dye, but once they try it, the confidence comes quickly because it really is so easy. And having a guide that provides some basic tips helps ensure success.
Finally, do you have any upcoming projects you can talk to us a bit about?
Summer is tie-dye season, so we will continue to share exciting new methods and projects on our blog at prettylifegirls.com and on social media @prettylifegirls!