Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How To Stencil With Bleach

bleach stencil tshirts Can you sense the excitement in the air??? College football season is almost upon us and we are getting geared up to root for our fave teams!

For me and my boys…it’s my alma mater…BYU Cougars!  For my daughter Britta, it’s the Cougars’ ARCH RIVAL, the Utah Utes (booooooo! How could my daughter betray me like that and attend the university that is the “sworn enemy” of the university *I* attended??  Oh yeah…they gave her a full-ride scholarship. Never mind. lol).

For No. 1 Son it’s a LOT of teams…but if he were forced to choose it would probably be the South Carolina Gamecocks!

Anyway, you get the idea….we’re getting pumped for college football! Which got me thinking about a project I’ve been meaning to try…Bleach Stenciling. I was folding clothes this morning and came across this plain dark blue tee of my sons and decided it would be perfect for what I had in mind. (Good thing he was at school and couldn’t stop me!)

I got my inspiration from Cath at Dreamy Colours but next time I probably should actually READ the post and not just look at the pictures. :-)  I overdid it a little in the bleaching department because I neglected to read that most INTELLIGENT people dilute the bleach first. Oh well.

I actually am pretty happy with the way it turned out. And much to my surprise…No. 3 Son LOVED it! He immediately wanted to put it on and I actually talked him into posing for a pic! It was a rare and beautiful moment. :-)

bleach stencil tshirts

Here’s how I made my Bleach Stencil shirts (although I’m obviously not the expert on this subject!):

  • Get ahold of a t-shirt…preferably one no one is wearing at the time, and preferably when the owner of said t-shirt isn’t around to stop you!
  • Cut out letters (or pictures) you want to “stencil” on to the shirt. I just used plain printer paper…but as you can see in the pictures…it didn’t make for the cleanest edges…although I kind of like the imperfection of it all. I hear FREEZER PAPER is a good choice for this. Once again…note to self: read instructions, don’t just look at pretty pictures!
  • Place something between the layers of the shirt to keep the bleach from bleeding through to the back (or front) of the shirt. I used foil. It worked, but was tricky to position. Cardboard probably would have been easier to work with.

bleach stencil tshirts

  • Position letters on shirt and spray with bleach (or a solution of bleach AND water. The ratio of bleach and water is totally up to you and the “look” you’re going for.)
  • Place t-shirt in the sun until it reaches the desired color (I’m not sure this is absolutely necessary, it may be that it just speeds up the process a bit).

bleach stencil tshirts

bleach stencil tshirts

Like I said, it turned out a little “rougher” looking than I had PLANNED…but when all was said and done…I think I LIKE it that way!  The craft Gods were definitely smiling on me today (as opposed to their usual laughing and pointing fingers! haha)

Now grab your bottle of bleach and get out there and support your team!!


Update: Here is an important tip from Amber——   (Thanks Amber!)
I have done this many times and always ended up with the bleached areas getting holes in them after a few washes. I have since discovered through research on the web that you need to soak the item in peroxide when you have the desired bleached color to completely stop the action of the bleach. The peroxide chemicals alter the bleach and turns it into something else, I didn’t take chemistry in high school so I’m not sure what it turns into, but this step really works. I have done this twice now and no more holes.



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44 thoughts on “How To Stencil With Bleach

  1. Cath

    I’m a huge fan of your blog and it’s an honor that you used my tutorial :) Thank you so much!
    This kind of project is great to use in stained shirts, new shirt without stains!

  2. Misty

    Love this idea! We are heading to Disney World in the fall and I’m thinking this will make awesome Mickey Mouse shirts (just the head, cut out three circles and you got it) that even my husband and 11yo son ( who will not get near anything babyish) will wear. I’m so excited I may have to try it today!

      1. David

        misty – don,t take it to the park on they will make you take it off – maybe – they did that to a girl cause she dressed to much like tink. – now they might not but just saying – bring extra shirt

        1. Katie

          They won’t adults wear anything that looks too much like a character costume because they don’t want kids seeing “Tinkerbell” cursing or something and getting confused. Children wearing costumes or adults wearing character merchandise that aren’t costumes aren’t a problem. You will have absolutely zero problems wearing a shirt with a Mickey head on it- after all, 99% of the merchandise they sell has a character on it.

  3. Holly

    I am going to try this with a horse-head stencil to give to my girlfriends that I board horses with!! I’ll let you know how it turns out. Thanks for sharing this!

        1. Valeria Jones

          I think Clorox or some other bleach brand makes a bleach pen that has a gelling agent so it doesn’t run. You could use that to write or draw on the shirt with fine detail.

  4. WendyB

    I love this idea! The possibilities are endless. One thing to keep in mind: straight bleach will cause tiny holes to develop in the jersey fabric if too much is used. I used the bleach trick to make a “tie dyed” shirt after my hubby tried to get blood out of a tee using straight bleach. I used a spray bottle to blast soft-edged circles onto the tee. After a while, the places where the bleach was most concentrated developed holes. Still, this is a great way to get more use out of a tee that’s been stained or accidentally bleached, say on laundry day. I bet you could use contact paper to make your stencils. It would keep the edges “locked down”, and would be pretty easy to pull away from the fabric when you’re ready.

  5. Amber

    I have done this many times and always ended up with the bleached areas getting holes in them after a few washes. I have since discovered through research on the web that you need to soak the item in peroxide when you have the desired bleached color to completely stop the action of the bleach. The peroxide chemicals alter the bleach and turns it into something else, I didn’t take chemistry in high school so I’m not sure what it turns into, but this step really works. I have done this twice now and no more holes.

    1. Tee

      When you soak it in peroxide afterwards – must the garment be covered in peroxide or in a water peroxide solution – or can you simply spray the areas that have been bleached?

      1. Valeria Jones

        You are gonna wanna submerge it into a peroxide solution since you are effectively neutralizing the bleach reaction, so you want to get it into all the fibers.

    1. Sally

      That’s who we are rooting for too! Go ‘Dores! But we get to do a double dose of cheering b/c we are BYU fans as well. I’ve done this project a bunch of times as well, and no I’ve never had a problem with the bleach running when I washed them, yes the diluted stuff doesn’t eat up your clothes and you get the same result (just usually takes a little longer) and I’m going to have try the peroxide because all of the shirts I’ve done have ended up with holes. We have tried using bleach pens to ‘write’ things as well, which was kind of fun.

      1. Xammag

        Your son has great taste! I realize that Go Cocks is not a slogan that could be used everywhere without raising eyebrows, but here it is commonplace. Gotta love our Gamecocks!

  6. Kerri

    You got some great results! Please be extra careful using fine bleach mists–I remember a college prof getting lung damage by overdoing lab cleaning. So glad my father in law sent me your site.

  7. Gale

    Oooh Oooh Ohhh!!!!!!! I CANNOT wait to try this out! (I say that about so many of your posts! You haven’t steered me wrong yet!) I have the PERFECT idea for a shirt for my daughter…omg…it is going to be so awesome! (I hope) Now to find a plain colored shirt…Thanks for the idea!

  8. Sabs

    I ADLORE your blog. Thanks so much for all the amazing hints and tips! I’ve been spending a couple of weeks at my mother’s house and we’ve used your dry laundry detergent recipe, your peroxide and soda tip… (and got shiney newish looking pans from it!) your Jet-Dri formula for streak free shine on her windows and a bunch of other stuff! I’m sooo impressed! In fact, the windows were so clean and sparkleing that birds started flying into the windows! I was so glad when they figured out that they couldn’t just fly right in! Thank you a dozen times over. It has made all the difference to “feel” so knowledgeable about cleaning and all the other fun things! Mom is impressed and now she asks, “What does Jillee say about this ?” And we go look it up! You have a new fan!

  9. Kaye

    At first when I saw the photo of what you did, I thought you must have used vinyl and that sounded hard, so I just moved on. . . but as the mother of three teenage boys, the idea had taken hold in my mind. Now that I have come back and actually READ your post (apparently this is a trait we share. . .) I think we have a great project for the cabin this weekend!

    Love your blog.

  10. Anna

    I knew I loved your blog before but knowing you are a BYU fan makes me love it even more :)
    Thanks for all the great tips. Your blog is one I am always excited to check each day!

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  12. Debbe

    We did this in high school back in the early 70′s. I had forgotten… I about wore out my fingers “painting” bleach on my friends’ jeans! We used straight bleach, too, and “painted” them right on the body to get positioning “just right”! We had matching red marks on our bods as on our jeans! We washed them right after we got the desired look, and they didn’t run, either. LOL

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  15. IMO

    Hydrogen Peroxide is H2O2. 2 parts hydrogen, 2 parts oxygen. If you let it sit out in the air it looses 1 part of oxygen and becomes H2O (water). I don’t understand how peroxide would stop the action of bleach any better than regular water would. Can someone explain please?

    I had a pile of dark clothes on the laundry room floor. Smelled bleach but didn’t pay much attention to it. Couple days later I was doing laundry and loading the pile of dark clothes in the washer and discovered some of the clothes directly on the floor had been literally eaten up and some of the ones that weren’t had holes, very thin fabric or several shades of brown. Seems like I had a bottle of bleach that had a tiny pinhole and most of the entire gallon had leaked out and ate my clothes. Bleach is powerful stuff!

    1. Valeria Jones

      Bleach is a weak caustic alkaline and peroxide is an weak acid. They basically cancel each other out making water, free oxygen and salt.

      NaOCl + H2O2 => O2 + H2O + NaCl.

      I can’t recall why but some folks try vinegar, but it’s not a complete reaction and there is something leftover that is still caustic


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