Wednesday, July 16, 2014

DIY Bleach T-shirts

A few months back I attempted to make a bleach pen and the results were... disastrous, to say the least. I veered away from any projects that involved bleach and t-shirts because I was sure I was just going to screw them up. Well, I came across this post from PracticallyFunctional and this post from and thought, "You know what? One Pinterest fail isn't going to stop me!" so I tried these two and you know what? They actually turned out ok! So if you think you're just going to screw it up... trust me, coming from a master failer, you'll be fine.

Bleach Striped T-shirt:

To get started you'll need the following:

1. A t-shirt
2. Some bleach
3. Some water
4. Masking or painter's tape
5. A spray bottle (I just recycled an old one I had on hand)

To begin, start by laying out your shirt and placing your masking or painters tape across the shirt. If you want to use a ruler to get perfect stripes, you can, but I just eye-balled it. Make sure the strips of tape are long enough to wrap around the other side.

Once the shirt is covered in tape stripes, flip it over and continue the lines on the other side with tape.

Try to overlap the tape perfectly, otherwise your lines won't look at seamless.

Next, pour 1 part water and 1 part bleach into a bottle (I did half and half) and place your shirt in a place where you're not afraid to get bleach on it. I opted for the bathtub... figured bleach could only make things better in there! Spray the front, flip it over, and spray the back.

How long you want the bleach to sit is entirely up to you. I opted for 10 minutes but should have done 5 minutes because I got blurred lines (::insert Robin Thicke reference::).

Once your 5-10 minutes are up, remove the tape and rinse the shirt under cold water.

Hang dry for 24 hours before showing off your work! Now aren't you glad you didn't spend $25 on something you could just as easily make yourself? I know it's not perfect but I kinda like it better this way!

Bleach Stencil T-shirt

Now I used this stencil of a cute little owl, cut out all the white parts with an x-acto knife, and taped it to a tank top (if you print out your stencil on transfer paper with spray adhesive, that works too, but I just used card stock and Scotch tape).

Just like before, spray with your 50/50 bleach/water mixture and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.

Rinse it out with cold water and let it air dry for 24 hours before wearing.

Because my owl wasn't completely flush with the shirt, there are some areas around the eyes that didn't turn out as well but overall, I think he's adorable!

A couple things to keep in mind:

#1 - Wherever the bleach water touches, it will stain, even if it's not part of your design (make sure your bottle doesn't leak).

#2 - The longer you wait for the bleach to set, the lighter the color.

#3 - This is a smelly project - wherever you are, you'll smell bleach so please be in a well ventilated room! And yes, the shirts will have a faint smell of bleach when dry so don't be surprised.

Have fun making your shirts your own! Or better yet, make some as gifts for family, for Halloween, for your company softball team... the possibilities are endless!

TOTAL COSTS: About $10
$3 for t-shirt from Goodwill (tank top already on hand)
$5.87 for Frog Tape from Home Depot
$1.79 for bleach from Vons
Bottle already on hand (recycled)

TOTAL AMOUNT OF TIME: 20-30 minutes + overnight
15 minutes to make the stripes/cut out the owl
5-10 minutes to spray bleach and let sit
Overnight to dry

EASY-PEASY SCALE (1 super easy - 5 very difficult): 3 out of 5
To get perfectly straight lines without any bleeding takes practice and you might not get it on the first try (like me) but keep at it and you'll get into a rhythm. If you're using a stencil, make sure it's centered exactly where you want it, otherwise it might look a bit... off.

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