Wednesday, September 5, 2012

All Bleached Out

Hello all! Today we have a Pinstrosity from Leah, who happens to be a big Doctor Who fan. Judging from everything I see on Pinterest, there are a lot of you out there. Although I'm not a big follower I know the importance of wearing your TV allegiance on your favorite T-Shirt. Leah did this project without any prior directions or bleached t-shirt knowledge and here's what happened.

The Original 
 The Pinstrosity 

 For those of you who aren't familiar with Doctor Who, this is their logo.

So the Pinstrosity has a few minor adjustments, as someone who is OBSESSED with bleached t-shirts, I have a bunch myself, I can tell you there is definitely a trick to it. My instructions are much different than Leah's, here are her's first:
" [Our] Second attempt is the other picture I sent along. (Dr. Who Logo)  Put a cardboard piece inside and used tape to stabilize.  Still a little to much bleach.  The trick to this one was laminating the design with packing tape." She covered her paper design with packing tape so it wouldn't bleed through, always an option if you are using paper. "The Bleach can not bleed through it.  The second tip is to tape the design down with double sided tape.  Make sure you take the tape all the way to the edges.  Or it will bleed under the design kind of like this one.  Also, it only takes 3-4 small misting sprays of bleach, Not the 6-7 sprays my sister did."  

"On the third try I got clean crisp lines and I used just the right amount of bleach and the laminating and double sided take worked like a charm."
That was Leah's take on what went wrong, here is how I have found the best way to go about this project,  there are a bunch of different ways to do it, some more time intensive than other, please bear with me through this.  Here are a few of the shirts my hubby and I have done:

I am a HUGE  Philadelphia Phllies Phanatic (yes the spelling is correct here), and so for a game they had last year near where we lived at the time, I made this shirt! For this particular shirt I cut the "P" out, which we will call part A, and the outside that was left (which was already cut into an oval) we will call part B. I laid down part B and sprayed down the exposed shirt that makes up the "P" so that it would turn out white (one of their colors). Then I placed part A back in B (like a puzzle piece) and did the outside splatter. I didn't pin this one down ( read on for pinning instructions) because the piece is bigger and heavier than usual. I ended up holding it down with my hand, creating the pressure against the other cardboard piece underneath that it needed so it wouldn't bleed.

For the back I used reflective house numbers, (the kind you put outside your door to show what number your house is, they are sticky and you can find them in the Home Improvement section at Walmart). I cut out the letter itself, and used the outside piece that was left on the shirt. I then placed it on the shirt,  sticky side down so it wouldn't move and covered the remaining area with cardboard so that I wouldn't bleach out the whole shirt. After all the letters were the white I wanted, I went back and did a spray or two of bleach for the splatter affect. My nozzle on my sprayer went wacky  for a bit which explains the weirdness by the 35, bummer city.

This one and the tree are a little more complex, you will cut out whatever piece it is that you want (so that your design turns out white, or remains the color of the shirt), and then we placed it on the shirt, and took sewing pins and pined the cardboard down about every 1/4 inch around the edges of design (time consuming, but makes a world of difference). You have to make sure the cardboard is snug against the shirt or it will bleed like it did on Leah's. My husband did the Psych shirt above and took the extra time to cut out each pineapple piece and the letters for Psych (one of our favorite shows), and then he added a little Batman piece in the left hand corner (he thinks he IS Batman).

For the tree we cut out the design, and then pinned around the whole thing and did probably 6 sprays total, but we held the bottle probably 15 or so inches away for the Milky Way look.

Tips for success:
*Use cardboard inside the shirt to prevent the design from bleeding through.
*Use moderately thick cardboard for your design, not paper, I think that is where Leah ran into trouble with her first attempt, the paper bleeds through if you don't use packing tape to reinforce the paper.
*We used an exacto knife to cut out our designs, it makes the image crisp, as opposed to using scissors and cardboard which can be tricky.
*Put the bleach in a spray bottle and hold it either closer for a white look, or farther away for splatter or Milky Way affect.
*Don't freak out and go spray crazy if your design doesn't show up in the first thirty seconds, depending on the color of the fabric sometimes it takes longer to work.

So I know this is WAY longer than usual, but this one takes some explaining. Good luck Pinstrosipeeps, let us know your tips and tricks for this one and Happy Wednesday!


  1. I wonder, could you use the freezer paper stencil technique? Cut your design (positive or negative - your choice) out of freezer paper, then iron it shiny side down to your T-shirt. Mist w/ bleach, let dry, and peel away the paper. This method works great for fabric paint - don't see why it wouldn't work for bleach too.

  2. I use freezer paper and iron it down. It's plastic coated so it doesn't bleed.

  3. I used clear contact paper to create my design then stuck it to the front of the shirt & did not have any problems.

  4. Sorry, but Philadelphia was spelled wrong ;) although Phanatic is correct. I am curious, though... Does the shirt need to be 100% cotton? I tried to bleach tie dye a shirt, but it barely faded, and that was the only thing I could think of that might have been the problem.

  5. I did a free-hand bleach shirt painting for the Deathly Hallows premier last summer, and I love it! I used varying solutions of bleach and water to get different shades, and I put cardboard underneath to keep it from bleaching through.

  6. Can someone provide step-by-step instructions for making these, I've never seen them and while I THINK I've gathered how to do it, I'm still not sure. I really like the Hunger Games one and the tree, the last one. Thank you in advance!!

    Also, anyone know where to get fitted, plain v-neck shirts in plus sizes?

    1. We are actually doing this project and putting together a full tutorial of this at our next meeting, so within the next 10 days or so we'll have a step-by-step process with pictures.

      I have seen plain V-necks at various stores, including Sears, WalMart, and Beals, but I know what stores carry vary by location.

  7. Two words ... FREEZER PAPER. It's in the store with the foil and stuff. It's plastic backed paper. You can draw on it, print onto it, then iron it onto the shirt. The plastic backing melts and sticks to the shirt but when cool peels off cleanly. And you can get very intricate shapes!

  8. My mom and I started making shirts like these 12ish years ago for school clubs, VBS, etc. We always use contact paper and never have any problems with bleeding, and we will make between 10-20 at a time. Another key trick is to use CHEAP bleach, never ever Clorox. Clorox is too strong and will eat holes in your shirt.

  9. I made several of these, and all worked very well. I used shelf paper. You can run it through an ink-jet printer (print on the PAPER side--NOT the plastic! it'll still smear a little, but if you're only doing an outline, it's fairly easy to cut out still. Oh, and make sure you print a REVERSE image!), cut it out, wrangle off the paper side, stick it to the shirt, shove a piece of cardboard into the shirt to stabilize it, make SURE the shelf paper is stuck down well, and then LIGHTLY spray it with ***CHEAP*** bleach. After it's sorta-kinda dried, blot the shelf paper with some paper towels and throw the shirt in the drier to really set the bleach. After that, just wash, dry, and wear. Made TARDIS shirts, Mickey Mouse shirts, Harry Potter shirts, and Hunger Games shirts. Every one turned out perfectly. The big tips are use CHEAP bleach, and only spray on a little at a time. Use too much, and it'll ruin the design.

  10. Hi everyone,
    I attempted this same project about a month ago with great results. If you dont want to buy anything special for the project (like myself) you can simply glue the cardboard down- I used a glue stick to make the back of the cardboard tacky, and it sealed to the shirt. When you peal off the cardboard you need to throw the shirt in the wash to get out any extra bleach anyway, so the glue washes away too! Also you could probably use Clorox, just add water to dilute it.

  11. I recently did this project as an xmas present for my friend's stepson. He's a huge Nightwing fan (he's Robin grown up in the Batman universe fyi) and it's hard to find shirts with his symbol. I used craft foam that has a self adhesive on the back. It worked perfectly. I had no bleed thru on it, unless you press on the foam while the shirt is still wet.

  12. Haha...I'm noticing a trend here. I was going to suggest freezer paper stenciling as well.

  13. wow,it looks very cool. I also like the t shirt.


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