How to Bleach Custom T-Shirt Designs

Categories: DIY

Kathy Cano-Murillo
This month's craft is a wearable art project.

Every month Kathy Cano-Murillo, a.k.a. The Crafty Chica, dishes crafty tips and tricks in La Vida Crafty on Jackalope Ranch.

In my world, anything that adds or removes color is game for a DIY project.

In this case, I'm using old-school bleach to make a cool design on a boring black T-shirt. What I like about using bleach as an art medium is that you never quite know what you're going to get. It's one of my favorite "big reveal" crafts. The makeup of the fabric, the thickness, and the color all interplay, and then there's the whole bleach factor. After I bleach my fabric, I like to add a contrasting color on top to give it more personality -- because sometimes the bleached look results in an icky hue.

See also: How to Make Watercolor Paper Earrings

Kathy Cano-Murillo
Here's what you'll need

Plastic gloves
Bleach pen (or liquid bleach diluted 50% with water in a spray bottle)
Cotton shirt
Repositionable spray
Fabric dye

Kathy Cano-Murillo
1. Pre-wash your shirt. Use a store-bought stencil, or cut one by hand using freezer paper and a craft knife. I hand-cut my own stencils on watercolor paper so I can use them over and over. If you cut it on freezer paper, place it on the shirt and iron it shiny side down.

2. If using a stencil that doesn't have a sticky back (like my watercolor paper stencil seen in photo), give a light coat of repositionable spray and place it on the shirt. Make sure the shirt is wrinkle-free under the stencil. Rub over it with your hands to make sure it is secure. If you have used the iron-on freezer paper method mentioned in the first step, then you can skip this part.

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My Voice Nation Help
Kim Porter
Kim Porter

I would add to this that if you keep a spray bottle with vinegar handy during the bleaching process, you can spray it on to stop the bleaching process if you want to control lift in certain areas or assure that you don't over-bleach.

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