Sep 13, 2012

Bleach Pen T-shirts





I had saved a few colored Tshirts, but have not worn them for some time now, because they started to loose their shape, looked like they were washed too many times (which I'm sure they were) and just overall had a kind of raggedy look to them. But I still loved the colors, even if they looked washed out and they were still comfortable, but I felt every time I was wearing them that these should be  "I'm sick with the flu and I don't care what I'm wearing" shirts. I came across them recently, and started thinking that another overdyeing project was due. But I liked the color. I did not want new colors. Then I remembered reading a few months ago about using bleach pens on fabric for design purposes. Make sure you get the one for WHITES!



  I put newspaper and on top of that wax paper under each shirt, well, inside each shirt. The wax paper was right under the top layer of the shirt, so the bleach would not bleed through. A reader commented that using Freezer Paper ironed on the wrong side of your T-shirt would work great too. She was right, I tried it out and it gives you a great surface to write on. Cut a piece of Freezer Paper and using your iron on cotton setting iron the shiny side to the fabric's wrong side. Make sure the paper side is what you iron on!  I grabbed a piece of chalk and tried to draw a design. But stretched out shirts and chalk do not go well together, so I had to abandon that idea. Instead, I decided to be bold (or impatient) and draw freehand with the bleach pen! I grabbed a book my mom gave me about Hungarian folk designs  (I was born and raised in Hungary) and started drawing.
I let the bleach sit for about 10-15 minutes on each shirt (you may need to leave the bleach gel on for longer or shorter, depending on the the fabric and dye that was used by the manufacturer, and also on the fabric itself), watching as the colors were changing and when I liked what I saw, I washed the bleach off under running water. When all the shirts are done, spray the design with hydrogen peroxide and water solution (1:10 ratio) and leave it on for 10 minutes to stop the bleaching process. Then I put them in the washer, and that's it. They have a bit of a hippie look, because they look washed out and shapeless, but it looks like it is on purpose.


Need some tips on using a bleach pen? See some more bleach pen project ideas?




13 comments:

  1. Love this idea! do you need to wash the shirts right away to stop the bleach from working? I remember once I splashed a little bleach on my shirt while cleaning & within a few washes it had a hole in it.....
    Many thanks
    Mindy

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    Replies
    1. Mindy,

      Yes, you should rinse the shirts as soon as the bleach discharged color to your liking. It also helps if you add some vinegar or hydrogen peroxide to your rinse water. I use a 1:5 vinegar to water ratio.

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    2. thank you for the reply! I can't wait to try this.
      Mindy

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  2. Thanks so much for sharing this tutorial.

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  3. Hi,

    Is it necessary to put the t-shirt in the dryer after rinsing it with water?

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    Replies
    1. No. I assume you mean setting color with heat. Since you are taking color away, it is not needed. Just wash, dry and wear as you normally would.

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  4. I think this is a splendid idea- simple, inexpensive and creative. I teach crafts projects each year at an orphanage I visit in Cambodia and would like to try this in December with the 100 kids there (Us adults & the teens there will help the younger kids). I have ordered the pens from the US (I live in Japan & have not seen them here). Since the designs look like simple line drawings, do you think that one pen would suffice for 2~3 shirt designs? Also, there is no way I would have access to hydrogen peroxide, so would a simple washing be good enough after the bleach has set in enough? Please advise. My friend is bringign over the 50 pens I've ordered form Florida in May, so I wil give them a few test runs before I do the project with the kids.

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    Replies
    1. One bleach pen would be enough for 3-4 shirts. You can use vinegar/water solution to stop the bleach also. Never mix vinegar with bleach though! You need to dilute the vinegar with water first. If you wish, you can just rinse the shirts with water, but the bleaching process will not be completely stopped. Eventually small holes with develop along the bleach design as the bleach slowly eats away at the fabric. This goes especially for cotton blends. The more spandex or polyester the shirt contains, the more likely that holes will appear sooner in the fabric. Hope this helps.

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  5. Hi. We will be decorating onesies with bleach pens for my daughter's baby shower. Since the onesies are new, do you think I should wash them first?

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  6. I tried my self but there was some mess, but I will try again I know that was my first try. But these are simply awesome great work.

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  7. Just tried this myself. I love it. The first shirt I tried showed no effect from the bleach but the next 2 came out great. They were cheaper shirts, don't know if that made the difference or not. I found some great buys on t shirts at Goodwill to practice on and they came out so well that I will be wearing them myself. I am planning on doing a "Mother of the Bride" t shirt with this technique for a friend in the future. Thank you for the great tutorial.

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