Monday, August 20, 2012

Bleach Art Shirt

We've all had those horrible mishaps where we spill bleach on a favorite piece of clothing.  But what about doing it on purpose?

Inspired by other posts, notably a simple tutorial at A Beautiful Mess.   Here's one of my own.

Getting started, gather the following:

  • T-shirt--dark is better.  100% cotton is best.
  • Board to mount shirt
  • Clips or rubber bands
  • Chalk
  • Liquid bleach
  • Bowl for bleach, non-reactive
  • Cheap brush
  • Rag to mop up any spills
  • Disposable gloves     

1. Slide your board behind the part of the shirt you want to bleach--you don't want it going through the other side of the shirt.  Make the board secure with clips or rubber bands.

2. Take the chalk and map out your design.  I wanted it centered, so drew a center line and perpendicular lines for my text.  It's up to you how you do this.  I can't free hand anything & if I mess up, I just rub out the chalk line and start over.

3. Put on your gloves, pour bleach into a shallow bowl and have a rag handy for any unfortunate spills.  Use small, short strokes with the brush when painting on the bleach.  If you are not sure you got enough bleach on, error on the side of less rather than more.  You can always add more, but you can't take it away!

Be aware that bleach will soak into the fabric, spreading out further than you might want.  You can always stop, let the bleach do it's work and then judge whether you need to brush on more bleach or not.

4. When you are done painting, the bleach needs to dry and set.  I found putting it out in sunlight helped a lot.  If you still need to re-brush your design, you can touch it up and let it dry some more. 

5.  All dry and all done.  Do a simple wash cycle just to set the bleach and stop it from spreading further.  Depending on the color of the fabric, the bleach can end up any color from pink to orange to brown, and yes, white.

Be creative--you could bleach a small pattern or go crazy.  There are other bleaching techniques that incorporate resistance bleaching--splattered bleach makes the background, and a blocked off part of the fabric becomes the image.  A good example of this, using freezer paper to mark off the negative space is at My Graham Crackers

More bleach shirt tutorials:
Galaxy t-shirt at Wise Rabbit Says
Bleach Number shirt at Sugar Bee Crafts
Another spray bleach shirt at Six Sisters' Stuff 

If you hunt the laundry section at the grocery store, you can find a bleach pen.  These have a different feel, and in my experience, tend to bleed more. 

Tutorials for bleach pen shirt tutorials:
Halloween shirt at Pink and Green Mama
Cute flower shirt at Trendy Trinket
Very sophisticated henna design at Craftster

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