Have a great idea for a t-shirt design? Can’t find clothing for sale with the logo you want? Thanks to the wonders of laundry bleach, you can dye your clothes (or rather un-dye them) to make any design you like. I used this tutorial from Instructables, with a few modifications for mess and accuracy’s sakes.
Here are some birds I made for my favourite bird-nerd…
… and here’s a Mass Effect hoodie she made for me!
The lovely model in the last pic is Headless Duct-Tape Me: instructions for how to make your own perfectly sized dress form for the cost of a few rolls of duct tape can be found here at Offbeat Bride.
If you’re considering making some bleach-dyed items of your own, I have a few humble suggestions:
- Try a sample first, on some inexpensive fabric. My first attempt was a caddywhompus Aperture logo t-shirt that is good enough for the gym, but not much else.
- Double-check your laundry bleach before using it. Eco-friendly bleach doesn’t contain chlorine and won’t work as a dye (oops).
- If you work in an office or otherwise have access to the tops of Xerox paper boxes, they make a perfect frame to stretch a shirt over to keep the back from getting bleached.
- White school glue is non-toxic and water-soluble: if your pattern is delicate you can paint your stencil with a thin coating of glue to help it adhere to your fabric. You have to be careful not to get glue on the part you want to bleach, though. Any residual sticky stuff will come out in the wash.
- A light spray of bleach will give you a stippled effect (like the hoodie), and a more thorough soaking will give a solid colour (like the tee). When in doubt, go lightly and consider a second treatment.
- You have no control over what colour you’ll get underneath: the tee is an American Apparel shirt in navy which bleaches to purple.
Go check out the Instructables tutorial, and happy pattern-making!