Waiting for Husband to come home

WaitingI am a pretty independent woman.  I’ve traveled the world solo, lived overseas, driven stick, changed my car’s oil, and now I run my own business…  I’m kind of a big deal. (Juuuust kidding!)  But seriously, I was in my 30s when I finally got married and “settled down,” whatever that means.  So, sometimes I am quite surprised by the married version of me.  Take for instance tonight.  My sweet husband works in construction… you know, manual labor… working his tail off!  He leaves the house at seven and doesn’t come home until six.  Then, when the elderly couple one farm over asks if he can help them lift and move something heavy after work, he doesn’t flinch… he heads over there on his way home from town, even though he texts me “I’m starving!”  I love this about my husband.  He doesn’t help others only when it’s convenient to him.
But… now he’s over there (presumably) chatting away with the neighbor man in his shop.  And it’s been over an hour.  Dinner has been simmering on the stove for the last 2 hours.  What do I do?  Do I call over there and get him to come home?  Uh… guilty.  I tried his cell which he probably left in his rig AND I tried the house phone.  Do I drive over there (the creek is too high to cross at this time of year) and pull him away like I am tempted to do?  The neighbor lady says her husband and mine are probably just chatting out in the shop and they’ll get hungry soon.
Well, here I am waiting for the husband to come home.  The house smells like garlic from the Alfredo that was simmering, but I’ve since turned the range off.  No need to keep cooking it down.  And as I sit here by the window, watching for him to pull up, I am reminded of how blessed I am that this is my only complaint.  Do you ever feel that way?  Like you just realized how petty your problems really are?  I think I do on a daily basis.  Maybe hourly.  Of course, I worry… what if something happened to my husband or my neighbor and the one is staying with the other and can’t reach his phone?  The mind is a funny thing… But seriously.  Now it’s been two hours.  If he doesn’t drive up in the next 5 minutes, I’m going over there.
See what I mean about being surprised by the married version of me?
Worrying is so beneath me.
That’s it, it’s been 5 minutes.
I’m going over there.

Christmas Wrap-Up

I don’t know about you all, but we had a fantastic, albeit busy, Christmas season!  Miss American Dye is gaining popularity both in our local area and online, which is a lot of fun to see.  I’m getting tagged in more and more photos of happy customers wearing their one of a kind tie dye creations on social media.  I received two offers to sell Miss American Dye products in local stores, as well as an offer for vending at a local country festival, so I’ll be looking into these opportunities, though the majority of my business still seems to be online.

snowflake ice dye
My first Ice Dye! A Christmas gift for a sweet pre-teen cousin of mine.
Speaking of this wonderful world wide web, we held our first big online sale campaign at the beginning of December and learned a lot about our wonderful customers and potential customers.  We saw a growing amount of people who prefer handmade gifts to machine-made.  We also learned that most of our customers are coming from Facebook, which means we will be focusing a lot more attention there.  Christmas was indeed a season of learning for both my husband, Tieson (the business brains), and myself (the tie dye brains!)
Triplet Baby Love Christmas Gifts
Triplet Baby Love Bodysuits
Personally, this Christmas was a very special one because it was my first Christmas as a married lady.  And, I suppose I’m biased, but I think I married the best husband in the whole wide world.  It was also our first Christmas with Miss American Dye, though not my first time making tie dye gifts!  This year I tie dyed triplet baby love bodysuits for a friends’ grandchildren, ice dyed a beautiful snowflake tie dye shirt for my cousin, and did many other custom designs for friends and family.  I even made a snowman turtleneck for myself, but since I accidentally dropped some dye in the wrong place, I ended up with a mutant three-eyed snow monster.  This resulted in a first place cash prize in an ugly sweater contest at a local winery!  Best mistake ever!
Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest Winner
Sometimes a mistake will win you an ugly Christmas sweater contest.
Now, as we look to the new year, I’m excited to say we will be moving full speed ahead.  I’m already gearing up for January Football with our Game Day Leggings, Football Tank, and Football Tee – making them available in a variety of color combinations!  We are also going to be introducing the charities we support and featuring special tie dye designs in different sales campaigns that will help raise money for these charities.  I can’t wait to get started!
All the best for the New Year,
“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.” – Benjamin Franklin

The Social Media Learning Curve

Candy Canes & Silver LanesI’ve always been a fan of social media.  When I lived overseas or out of state, it was a great tool to keep in touch with my family and friends back home. When I returned to my small home town, it allowed me to stay connected with the friends I had made around the world.
However, we all know the vices of social media.  The I’m-an-extrovert-that’s-currently-alone-and-I-need-social-interaction posts (also known as PAY-ATTENTION-TO-ME posts.)  Or the political rants which have been known to change many a person’s mind.  Note: Yes, that was irony you detected. Or the photos of mediocre homemade meals.  And I am sort of ashamed to admit that I have contributed all of these types of posts… sorry.
But with all of these vices, all of these rants and drama-filled posts and the bazillion photos of pets and sunsets, I still use social media.  I can’t help myself, I guess.  I’ve toned down my posting over the years, but I still am tempted to post my food photos. (I know people want to see a photo of the pad thai I made!)
Enter Miss American Dye.  I run a business that sells predominantly to online customers.  Running social media sales campaigns, I’ve had to learn about what to post and when… because, as I know from my own experience:  people get burnt out on too many posts.  On the other hand, I’ve also been frustrated to find out a day too late that I missed out on a sale that interested me, all because the company didn’t advertise on a platform I frequented.
This week we are running a Christmas Sale, and my sweet husband has been burning the candle at both ends working his tail off during the day and coming home and working on my website and sales campaign at night.  He set up this handy little schedule for me to know when, where, and what to post. Limiting myself to those posts is the challenge… I want to post all day so people see my stuff, but he reminds me that others will get burnt out like I’ve been burnt out on companies I’ve followed.  I get it. We want the deals, but we don’t want the spam!  The learning curve feels really steep here, but I’m committed.  We’ll figure this thing out and hopefully create an enjoyable experience for everyone who comes in contact with Miss American Dye.  In the meantime, please shop around and let us know how we are doing!


ThankfulnessWith Thanksgiving fast approaching, I thought I’d share a few of the things for which I am thankful.  I reckon I have plenty to be thankful for all year round, but sometimes it takes a holiday to remind myself to share my gratitude with others.  Here are five things (and people) for which I am thankful and a little bit of why that is so.

1.  I am thankful for a roof over my head. 

The Pacific Northwest rains have moved my tie dye work space indoors for the winter.  It’s kind of messy and takes up a lot of space in my small home, and I’ve been complaining to myself about how I’ve had to adjust since the weather turned rainy and cold.  But as I stop to think about those folks who don’t have a place to call home, who don’t have a roof over their head… I realize I’ve got it pretty good.  I’ve got indoor heating and plumbing.  My tie dyeing can continue through the winter because I’ve got a place where I can work that’s warm and dry.  For all the things under this little roof, I am ever so grateful.

2.  I am thankful for my husband.

I never would have taken the proverbial leap of faith to start Miss American Dye if it had not been for the support of my husband.  He has been my greatest source of encouragement and support in these early days of starting a business.  Sure I can make sweet tie dyes, but building a website or running a social media sales campaign?  I’m a novice.  I’m so grateful my husband has done so much for me and Miss American Dye.

3.  I am thankful for my momma.

My mother is one of my biggest fans.  She has been a repeat customer and also a constant walking billboard for my product.  She’s always wearing tie dyes I’ve made when she goes to work, church, social events, the grocery store… you name it.  She is always quick to share with inquisitive folks where they can find my products online.  I’m grateful for my parents for countless reasons… My momma’s support of Miss American Dye is just one.

4.  I am thankful for the tie dye community.

I am part of a tie dye group that has proved invaluable to my growth as a tie dye artist.  Folks from all around the world share their work, helpful tips they’ve learned along the way, and anything else related to tie dye.  I am especially thankful for my friend, Vayda, who has taught me some super important tie dye basics as well as introducing me to the tie dye group of which I am now a part!

5.  I am thankful that I get to live in this fine country.

It may come as a surprise to you, given my business name… but I didn’t always appreciate my country.  I spent several years overseas and some obnoxious American tourists made me feel embarrassed to call myself American.  But one day I decided to write a list of all the reasons I’m grateful for the USA and proud to be an American.  At first I had a bit of writer’s block, but I started with one word: Freedom.  Before I knew it, I had several more pages to complete my list.  Today, I recognize that my nation’s spirit of innovation, pioneering, and generosity is a part of who I am and for that I am thankful.

Trial and Error

As you can imagine, there is a lot of trial and error with tie dye.

I mean, a LOT of trial and error.

Take, for instance, these skull and crossbones designs I’ve been trying out.

Trial and Error

They’re awesome, right? But, they don’t look much like each other. And there’s too much bleeding on the eyes, so I’ve got to adjust my dye application there. Maybe I’ll use a thickener.


When I first started delving into this world of color on fabric, there was a lot more failure than success. I’d get so discouraged when a new design didn’t turn out how I imagined it would. I’ve shed tears over my failed attempts at designs. TEARS! It may seem like a trivial thing to get worked up about, but every time I didn’t replicate a design to my tolerance standards, I felt like it was further proof that I wasn’t cut out for selling my work. I felt like a failure.

Now, here’s the thing: I have amazing friends and family. They tell me, “Jill, you’re too hard on yourself! I like it!” Awesome, encouraging words. But… their words really don’t soothe my frustrations. How can I make it in a heavily saturated market if I can’t get my stuff together?

Well, one day I had this realization: Their words don’t help because if I don’t believe in my work, it won’t matter if they do. I need to be happy with the results. I’m not out to get patted on the back, I’m out to produce quality tie dyes that customers love.

Reality started to set in… I was going to have to make a LOT of mistakes and be okay with it. I needed to stop asking for second opinions and go with my gut. If I was dissatisfied with the end result, I needed to redo something.

Now, the other side of that coin is that I need to be okay with the variations and uniqueness of tie dye. No… scratch that. I need to CELEBRATE the variations and uniqueness of tie dye. People don’t buy tie dye for it’s consistency. They can buy printed fabric if they want that sort of thing. There’s plenty of printed (read: fake) tie dye out there, but it’s not what I do. A perfectionist at heart, celebrating the variation is really difficult for me. But that’s probably a good thing. Because…My left brain and right brain are having to do all sorts of collaboration. I’m probably some sort of genius because of it. And while I can’t say I’ve figured it all out, what I HAVE figured out is this:

Tie dye is both an ART and a SCIENCE.

There’s method to my trial and error – hypothesizing and changing one variable at a time, recording my findings, being willing to make mistakes and do-overs, etc. But there’s also creativity and surprise as a piece takes on a life of it’s own, often turning out better than I imagined!

And art and science CAN CO-EXIST. It’s just not always comfortable.

Thrifty is the new Nifty

sunthrift-400x300I love a good thrift shop as much as any other thrifty shopper out there.  As long as I can remember I’ve loved finding one-of-a-kind clothes at killer prices.  So much so that I vividly recall a time in high school when a friend observed that she was surprised to see me wearing brand-new, brand-name board shorts.  (They were borrowed.)  I would find groovy paisley from the 70s and pair it with bell bottoms and platform heels, or incredibly unique, vintage swing dresses that went great with my cat-eye sunglasses.
My style became influenced by great finds at Value Village, the GoodWill, and other smaller thrift stores.
While I didn’t quite fit in with the students at my school, I learned to love myself, create my own style, and celebrate creativity and individuality in those around me!  Plus, I was able to save more of my hard-earned money to put towards useful things… like… fast food and gasoline.

Thrift Stores and Upcycled Tie Dye

Naturally, as years passed and I got into tie-dye, I wanted to incorporate my love for unique finds and low prices!  I would browse the racks of my local thrift stores for white (or pastel) garments that were fiber reactive.  I can easily blow through 2 hours at a store searching for pieces that speak to me!  You can usually find me in the white sections searching for the material labels that say 100% cotton or rayon.  Or I’m holding a funky white canvas blazer with sweet shoulder pads with a blank stare.  (That’s me thinking, “What design would I do on this piece?”)

Upcycled Tie Dye Clothing

Introducing “New Life” at Miss American Dye

So as you browse the Miss American Dye Shop, you’ll see some items called “New Life”… these are clothes that I’ve found at thrift stores and garage sales that I’ve upcycled or repurposed.  They are one of a kind, meaning I don’t make them in multiple sizes or do repeats.  They truly embody the heart and soul of thrift shopping: finding something unique that nobody else has!  And, since the blank piece is often more affordable, I pass that savings on to my retail customers!
Upcycled New Life Blouse

I hope you find an upcycled “New Life” piece that fits you and your personal style, and even more, I hope you are encouraged to embrace that style!

5 More Helpful Tie Dye Tips

Tie Dye ProcessA couple weeks ago, I shared five things I’ve found helpful for getting started in tie dye.  And because I don’t want to leave you hanging, here’s five more tips for the tie dye process.


Mix your dyes in small batches.  They don’t last forever once the powder is mixed with water.  Reds, yellows, and colors that have these two primaries have a shorter shelf life.  I can let my blues sit for weeks with no damage to their vibrancy, but anything with red or yellow in it starts to fade after a week or so.


Add Salt to Black and Navy to make them stronger.



Don’t limit yourself to only squeeze bottles to apply the dye.  Get creative!  I have a wonderful nurse friend who gives me extra syringes, which work great for small details.  You can also use a paint brush or immerse the entire garment in dye.


WASHOUT is one of the most important steps!  Rinse with a hose (letting the excess drain, not pool) until the garment isn’t slimy.  Then put the garment in a bucket and let soak in cold water, replacing the water until mostly clear.  Finally, throw it in the washing machine with other tie dyes (once the machine has been filled with your textile detergent and hot water.)  Blue Dawn Dish Soap can be substituted for Synthrapol or textile detergent.  Just a little is all you need – this helps rid the garment of any extra dye that will bleed in the future.  I do a double rinse and call it good.  Concerned about Water Conservation? Check out our blog post about that very subject.


Tie Dye is an art, not a science.  Give yourself grace when things don’t turn out exactly how you imagined they would.  Each tie dye will be unique, like a snowflake!  Learn as you go, and most of all, have FUN!

I hope you have found these tips helpful and that you are encouraged to give tie dye a try.  If you’d rather leave it to the professionals… well… we’re here for you!
– Miss American Dye

5 Helpful Tie Dye Tips

Five Helpful Tie Dye TipsI wear tie dye a lot (big surprise.)  A frequent question I get asked around my little town when someone sees me wearing tie dye is, “How did you DO that?” Sometimes I have time to explain a bit of the process, but usually it’s a passing comment, so I answer in kind. “Sorcery,” I reply.

In Which the Author Divulges 5 Helpful Tie Dye Tips…

In reality, tie dye isn’t sorcery, wizardry, or magic.  But here are 5 helpful tie dye tips I have learned along the way that I shall pass on to you, should you decide to delve into this magical world of color.


RIT dye fades fast and looks cheap because it is.  It’s a great starting point, and many great dyers get their start using RIT.  But… I am able to create brighter, more vibrant tie dyes because I use fiber reactive procion dyes.  If you’re not sure if tie-dye is for you, the Tulip kits in Craft supply stores are an easy starting/trial point.


SODA ASH.  Also known as Sodium Carbonate or Washing Soda.  This is a crucial ingredient for all fiber reactive dyeing.  I use 1 cup soda ash to 1 gallon of water and soak garments for an hour at least.  This allows the procion dye to bond to the fabric.  Speaking of fabric…


Use 100% Cotton when at all possible.  Sometimes there’s going to be some polyester or spandex in certain blanks, but you need cotton (or another natural fiber like linen or rayon) to be the main “ingredient” in your fabric.


The Dollar Store is your friend when it comes to tools.  They have buckets, rulers, rubber bands, washable markers, heck – sometimes they even have kids’ white cotton t-shirts!


Never underestimate the power of a good fold.  Take your time.  Re-fold.  Re-tie.  This part of the process takes patience.  Use washable markers to give yourself a template for where you’re going.  Use rulers for straight lines.  Scrunch tightly.  I like to fold when the fabric is just barely damp, but some prefer wet and some prefer bone dry.  Use sinew for tighter ties, rubber bands for looser ones.

Stay tuned for more tips and tricks to make your tie dyes awesome!  Thanks for reading!

– Miss American Dye

Water Conservation

Water Conservation
Learning to Save Water when Rinsing Tie Dye

Being from the great Pacific Northwest (on the west side of the Cascades, no less) I’ve never had to worry about water shortages.  I lived in Los Angeles for a few years and had to adjust to rationed water and trying to conserve because of the major drought conditions down there.  But… It rains A LOT in these parts.  Usually.

This year has been super dry.  We had a very mild winter, so the snow pack that we normally rely on was almost non-existent.  In our area, there’s a small mountain called Silver Star that works as an indicator for everyone planting their gardens in the spring:  When the snow is gone on Silver Star, it’s time to plant.  Well… we all had to wing it this year because Silver Star never got any snow.

Then, add to the lack of snow pack a huge absence of our beloved rain.  Our rivers are low, our creeks and streams were dried up coming into the start of summer rather than near the end, and Pacific Northwesterners from around Washington and Oregon are realizing we need to start implementing water conservation efforts.  We probably won’t run out of water like parts of California, but we need to do our part.

So what does that have to do with tie dye?  A great deal.  I ensure each garment is rid of all excess dye before it is passed on to you, my awesome customers.  That requires water.  And I used to think it required A LOT of water.  But I’m learning some tricks to cut that water usage down and do my part.

3 Water Conservation Tricks for Tie Dye

Trick #1: Initial Rinse should be done in a bucket.  Rather than with the hose spraying out the excess dye.  I was afraid bucket rinsing would muddle the colors too much, but it really doesn’t make a difference, and I use a lot less water when I fill up half a bucket and rinse an item in it.

UPDATE: I did have some white areas on a red shirt that were a little on the pale pink side, so I’m thinking I will have to do some initial rinse with the hose before putting it in a bucket of cold water.  Still experimenting!

Trick #2: Wash all rinsed garments in one laundry load together.  I used to keep color families separate – oranges, reds, and pinks would stick together, blues and greens in another load… you get the idea.  But I found that if I fill the washing machine with hot water first and then add the garments one by one, they don’t cross contaminate!

Trick #3: Use waste water as a weed killer.  Unfortunately, the chemicals used to fix dyes are bad for plants, so I can’t use the buckets of rinse water for watering my gardens.  But I can use it to get the weeds out of my driveway!

If you have other ideas how to conserve water, share them in the comments!  Let’s all try to do our part!

Meet Dye: our in-house fashion model

Meet DyeWe’re excited to introduce our in-house fashion model, Dye. We held a little Instagram contest to name our new addition and the winner(s) will be notified shortly!

We wanted to get a photo of Dye for the website, however she insisted on going au natural (we think she’s European or something…). We’ve edited the photo to keep our website family friendly.

Coming Soon!

My awesome husband is setting up this website for me, but it’s still under construction, so we appreciate your patience.  Can I brag on the husband for just a second?  Not only does he work in construction all day, but then he also comes home and works in website “construction” for his wife! I’m kind of in love.

But… back to the point of this post!

We are super excited to get Miss American Dye up and running so you can see what’s new and do some shopping and even see some tutorials on how to make your own tie-dyes.  Husband will be working to make this website look and run awesome, and I’ll be working to make some tie-dyes that will get YOU looking awesome!

For now, I’ll be in the backyard doing my thing. – Jill