Art For Kids Art Projects and Techniques

Don’t Forget the Tie Dyed Napkin When Packing Your Kids’ Lunch

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I try to be green here and there, and we’re conscious about recycling and reusing stuff. Sometimes we mess up. But never with school lunch! For some odd reason, I am adamant about packing waste-free lunches- including napkins.

Maybe that odd reason is that our school promotes a waste-free Wednesday and rewards kids who continually participate. It sort of stuck in our house, and it’s really not hard to do. Plus, we turned the napkin part into a project. Surprised? Didn’t think so.

We started this last year and continued the tradition this year. I have the blue-stained hands to prove it.

Tie Dying White Napkins

Materials needed:

tie dye kit

1. Jacquard tie dye kit is the one we used, but if you know your tie dye stuff, all you need are dyes, soda ash, gloves, rubber bands and warm water. Dharma Trading Company is a wealth of information about all things fabric dying. They sell clothing blanks and dyes as well.

This kit comes with only 1 pair of gloves, so I would buy another pair if you will be doing this with your kids- or an extra pair for each tie-dyer.

We dyed four napkins and had over half the dye left, and this was with Fen squeezing out TONS of dye on 2 of the napkins.

2. White napkins (got ours at Target 4 for $10). They seem to have changed their napkin supplier, because last year’s fabric was all cotton and this years have some weird sheen to them. I recommend 100% cotton. Ooh… or linen if your kids want to be fancy. Here are some good ones.


We followed the soaking and mixing directions on the box and then sort of had at it. You can find techniques and inspiration for your tie dye wonders at Art, Craft & Design, or of course by doing a You Tube search.

Here’s a good swirl pattern tutorial, and they’re using this dye kit, which has more colors than the one we used. Hmmmm

tying napkin for tie dye
Rubber-banding the napkins


tie dying napkin
Squirting on the dye. Lots of dye. Too much dye. Mom tries to keep her moth shut. Fails.


tie dye napkin project
This one was rubber-banded from the corners in.



tie dye dnapkin project
This one was folded accordian-style.


tie dye napkin project
This was an attempt at a spider web.


tie dyed napkin project
These were rubber-banded nubs to make the dots.

And, as you know, the best part about tie dye is that the finished product is always cool, no matter what you were going for at the beginning. Also, it’s hard to wait that 24 hours before you wash and dry them and admire your finished masterpieces, but it’s so worth it! Ooh! Aah!

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  • Okay, I thought I was the cool, green mom to send a cloth napkin in with our waste-free lunches, but you have trumped me Madam. These are awesome and so much better than my plain yellow ones.

    Question (since I haven’t done tye-dye in maybe three decades): Does the dye come out when they are washed?

    • I kept wanting to spell it tye-dye as well. It just makes so much more sense. Like Kozy Kitchen. Anyway, you are still awesome for using fabric napkins. You should try some bleach pen drawing on them. Ooooh there I go- I can’t leave things alone.

      • I’ve done bleach pen pillow thingys…. covered pillows with denim fabric that we decorated with bleach pens. So fun! Didn’t think to do that with the yellow napkins. Off to get me another bleach pen! You’re awesomely creative and inspiring!