The best gifts in life are free

Let me first say that I’m a big tie dye fan. While tie dye may not be high fashion, I love how each dyed piece is unique. One of a kind. Like the people who created them. Speaking of…

Last summer my daughter went to summer camp and was instructed to bring something to tie dye. She didn’t have something, so she asked me for something. “Mom, I want to make you a tie dye shirt.” I thought great, I love tie dye.

Not having many white t-shirts, I quickly came across something perfect. A shirt with a stain. I had been meaning to try bleaching the shirt, but it hadn’t happened. This would be perfect. Take something worn and turn it into something new.

tiedye1So I entrusted my stained shirt to my daughter and off she went to camp. A week later, she returned with much excitement about the shirt she created for me. With visions of decoupage pencil cups dancing in my head, I took a peek at my new shirt. I was blown away. It was simply beautiful. 

The shirt pictured here has been my favorite for the past year. I’ve worn it again and again, and each time I think of my daughter. The splashes of color and the unique white rings are her creation. She deliberately chose warm colors for me. And she created the rings by gathering rocks and tightly winding rubber bands around the rocks again and again, so that the dye couldn’t permeate.  

There are a number of rings on the front and the back. This creation took some time. When I look at the rings I imagine her wrapping the rubber bands round and round. Each time I see the shirt I smile and each time I wear it my daughter smiles too. She knows how much I love the shirt that she so carefully made just for me.

It was the perfect gift and it didn’t cost a penny.

What’s your favorite homemade gift? Please share.

Next time you’re at a thrift store thumbing through white shirts, don’t be afraid to buy something stained. With a little dye, you can turn something worn into something new.


  1. I love it! What a beautiful shirt!
    Now I know what I’m going to do with my favorite white t-shirt I’ve been saving for the past two years. It’s stained and I thought I might dye it, but I haven’t ever dyed anything (except for tie-dye back in summer camp!) Now I just have to find a how-to online for tie-dye. And how sweet that your daughter wanted to make something for you instead of for herself.

    My 3 favorite all-time gifts were all made especially for me:
    1. my mother put together a photo album that started with me as a baby, lots of times with her like when she would give me a bath, and went through my entire life. She wrote things on the side and spent a lot of time on it. I really appreciated it because I never look through the old albums anymore, but I do this one.
    2. a friend of mine made me a beautiful quilt for my birthday several years ago. I still don’t know why- it was such an extravagant gift. She said “oh, it’s just a little lap quilt.” But it’s beautiful, and large enough for us to use as a bedspread. The fabric was my favorite color combination that I realized she had remembered me talking about. It was an incredibly thoughtful and generous gift and I use it every day.
    3. Years ago my husband made me a “card” collage that was shaped into a box. It had photos out of magazines and words like “woman” and “lover” and “activist.” I loved it and it made me see myself through his eyes, which was really beautiful.

  2. My favorite gift has to be the one my husband made for me for our 8 year anniversary a few years ago.

    We’re both very into tattoos, and I love four-leaf clovers. So, he drew up a tattoo-styled picture with birds surrounding a heart, and the words “8 Years Lucky In Love” in the banner the birds were holding in their mouths. Around them all were tons of four leaf clovers and cherry blossoms.

    He’s definitely a keeper!

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