Monday, 2 July 2012

Tutorial: Bleaching T-shirts

There's something really fun about using bleach on fabric. It's a quick, cheap and simple way to experiment with fabric dying without having to get too messy or too complicated mixing up the dyes and bits. There's also the added magic moment as you watch the bleach develop and discover which colours you're gonna get as it ranges from white,red,orange or pink depending on the cotton content of your t-shirt. So how do you do it?

equipment a black t-shirt, synthetic paint brush*, a glass jar, bleach (just the regular stuff you'd use indoors!) cardboard, masking tape and a stencil (and card, a cutting knife and a cutting mat if you're making the stencil from scratch too!) 

instructions one:  Create a stencil, I made mine using my absolute favourite font right now, blackout (you can download it here, I love it!) and some wonderful lyrics by the amazing alkaline trio. I've gone for a typography style because I'm gonna add it to an inspiration board for my students but you can make a stencil of whatever floats your boat or if you're really awesome you could just freehand a design straight on! two: place the piece of cardboard inside your t-shirt - it needs to be big enough to fit under your whole design because it's gonna stop the bleach going straight through to the back of your t-shirt. three: tape your stencil onto your t-shirt! four: put some bleach in your jar and get your paintbrush ready! five: paint over your design using the bleach six: watch your design begin to develop - you can go over areas if you want them to have a bit more colour 

Here's a little video of me painting mine, you can see how quickly it develops... 

*look out for the moment about half way through when I realise I haven't used a synthetic paint brush and my brush has disintegrated in the bleach (oops!) so I make a quick switch! 

seven: Leave your t-shirt out in the sunshine for a few hours so the bleach fully develops and lightens. eight: hand wash your t-shirt and let it dry nine: put it on and strut your stuff in your awesome new t-shirt handmade and designed by you! Hurray! optional extra: Pin it up in your classroom for inspiration and to subtly impart a bit of your own taste in music on your students! 

- Claire 

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