Design Yer Own Shirt





Introduction: Design Yer Own Shirt

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Use bleach to turn your clothing from drab into grab!

Step 1: Intro

This project will show you how to use bleach to make pretty pretty things in dark cotton shirts

Step 2: The Problem

Shirtlessness got ya down? Can't seem to get into that restaurant or store? No sweat. Just grab yourself a dark cotton shirt, a bamboo skewer, and a couple ounces of the wonder liquid bleach, and you'll be a legitimate consumer in no time! Stores will accept you, and restaurants will enthusiastically allow you to give them money!

Step 3: Additional Resources

You'll also want a good playlist to listen to. This will ease the tedium and take your mind off the noxious bleach fumes. This one worked for me:

Elliott Smith - Amity
Kings Of Convenience - I'd Rather Dance With You
Architecture in Helsinki - Maybe You Can Owe Me
The Magnetic Fields - Tokyo A-Go-Go
Of Montreal - The Party's Crashing Us
Dismemberment Plan - Time Bomb
Interpol - evil
The 6ths - Pillow Fight (feat. Mitch Easter)
Belle & Sebastian - to be myself completely
Architecture in Helsinki - Need to Shout
The Killers - Jenny Was a Friend of Mine
The 6ths - Puerto Rico Way
Guided By Voices - I Am A Tree
The 6ths - San Diego Zoo (feat. Barbara Manning)
The Magnetic Fields - When You Were My Baby

Dresden Dolls are also really good for this kind of thing

Step 4: Doin the Doo

First, put some wax paper or cardboard inside the shirt, to keep the bleach from soaking though to the other side

Step 5: More Doo

Now, lay thy shirt flat on thy most convenient of tables. Pour thy bleach into thy favorite disposable cup. Briefly dip the pointy end of the skewer into the bleach (it's ok, even preferable, if you don't see any large droplets on the end. The bleach is there, my son. You must believe!)
Now, start drawing on the shirt with the skewer. It will change color a few seconds after you draw on it. You'll want to re-dip the skewer in the bleach every so often. Most cotton shirts seem to turn an intermediate color before turning to white. Black dyes turn orange first, Blues turn yellowish. The shirt will turn to the intermediate color very quickly, and it will take 5 or 10 minutes for it to completely turn white.
Anyway, draw what you want to draw. You can also take common household objects and trace them, with wonderful results. (Pictures at the end)

Step 6: Waiting

Now that you're done making your design, sit back and admire it, touch up any bits that need touching, and wait about 10 minutes until the bleached bits turn entirely white.

Step 7: Rinse Off

Now, take the shirt, and rinse it off with copious amounts of warm water. This will stop the bleach from doing its thing, and prevent any unsightly blotches on you or the shirt. Rinse the shirt, then turn it inside out and rinse it some more. You'll want the water to be as hot as possible, since that will make the next step much more pleasant.

Step 8: Take the Plunge

In this step, you will confront the world's growing energy crisis by using your body heat to dry the shirt. Plant a brave grimace on your face, and draw the (hopefully still warm) wet fabric over your head. It'll dry in about 10 minutes if you go outside into the sun.

Step 9: Geeky Step(optional)

Go online and buy the domain for whatever clever phrase you just wrote on your shirt.
If you do this, you are truly socially inept, the holy grail for all geeks.

Step 10: Play With It!

Make some more patterns. Try tracing things out. Make elegant (and classy!) built-in pearl necklaces on your formal shirts. Trace Buzzsaws, spritzbottles, knives, leaves, flowers--everything looks cool!
I apologize(albiet insincerely) for the mediocre picture quality. Better pictures come when better camera comes!




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    24 Discussions

    no offence but who are those people try shinedown

    Here is a shirt I did for my wife for Christmas. It started out as a vacation photo. I think it turned out well. What do you think?

    Picture 048.jpgP1090812.JPGP1090813.JPG
    5 replies

    Yes I made a stencil from the photo. It wasn't just paper, though. I mounted the image on a piece of posterboard with spray adhesive before I cut it out. That keeps the bleach from bleeding through. I also used the spray adhesive to temporarily glue the stencil to the shirt. That keeps the edges of the image nice and sharp. Be sure to mask the rest of the garment well, as any overspray will show up on the shirt. The bleach solution I use is about 1 part bleach, 3-4 parts water. I think this gives me more control. I can spray it on, wait a few minutes, and spray more if I like. Good luck!

    So what you are sayin is this: 1) Make a stencil of your picture 2) put it on the shirt (optional spray adhesive to tac it down) 3) and use a spray bottle with a 1:3 Bleach:Water ratio? I want to add the Godsmack sun onto a hoodie. So would that work out? (P.S. That is an awsesome job on the t-shirt!)

    Yep, that is pretty much it. Be careful of the stencil material, the bleach/water solution can bleed through easily. I would also carefully cover the rest of the garment because the overspray can make a good job look a little 'hackier' than you might intend. I would definitely do a test on another, less important piece of cloth first, just to get a feel for it. Post a pic of what you do!

    you can also use hydrogen poroxide to nutralize the bleach.

    I have used this method to make a shirt saying "The cake is a lie." à la Portal. I love Portal. :D Good job, prank, kudos to you. Little tip to everyone else: the longer you leave the bleach on, the whiter it gets. If you only leave it on for about 4 or 5 minutes, it gets red/orange. :)


    11 years ago

    I did a lot of discharge dyeing in a surface design class a couple of years ago, and more on my own. There are a few things we learned that some people might be missing, which could be causing the holes. First off, you don't always have to use 100% bleach. For brushing or spraying bleach, it's good to use 1 part bleach to 1 or 2 parts water, and if you're going to submerge your fabric to achieve a tie dyeing effect, it can be closer to 1 part bleach to 4 or 5 parts water. You want to use the weakest solution necessary to achieve the effect you want. If you're looking for a pure pure white, 100% might be the trick, but depending on the fabric, it may not be necessary. Also, be careful not to leave the bleach on for more than 10 minutes or so tops. Also, just making sure, is everyone using cotton? You'll have problems using synthetics or animal fibers. Bleach can still damage cotton fibers, but not as easily. One last thing. After using the bleach, even if you rinse it out really well or put it through the washing machine, the bleach can continue to act on the fabric and weaken the structure of your garment over time. To stop this, you have to neutralize the bleach with something like Bleach Stop or AntiChlor. I was actually taught to use a watered down vinegar mixture, though a heads up on that — mixing vinegar and bleach is a Bad Thing, so if you're going to do this, first rinse out the bleach very, very well, and do the vinegar soak outside or somewhere with great ventilation. Hope this helps! There's nothing worse than a great design turning into a great big hole.

    1 reply

    haha! thank you for the additional enthusiazm to your instructions, it made me pee my pants with laughter.

    One time my brother tried to bleach a white shirt by just pouring the bleach right on it and then rinsing it off. When he pulled it out of the dryer it just ripped apart like tissue paper.

    FYI: Bleach Pens are made by Clorox, but Dishwasher Detergent *w/bleach* works just as good as the bleach pen gel stuff and smells like lemons. WOOHOO!

    When I was around 13, I did something like this to make my own NIKE shirts : I made the big swoosh sign, and then used an aerograph to spread the bleach over a black T-shirt. The T-shirt last for three washing-machine cycles : the bleach had transformed the nice white swoosh into a big hole ! This trick works, but be really carefull with the bleach, if you want to wear your T-shirt for more than a month... Special paints for clothes do exist, and stay a long time on clothes even through several washing machines cycles.

    1 reply

    the shirts I've done have been around for a few months and are still intact. I use a very small amount of bleach, so that probably helps

    I've never heard of a bleach pen, but this method sounds like essentially the same thing. Give it a shot, and let me know how it turns out

    I've done this, and it's true - it does damage the fabric of the shirt, and it is nearly impossible to get consistent color or line width. For a cheap pseudo-screen printing tutoril look here: I've done it, and it works great, and you can use the designs a couple times at least.

    Your playlist is the shit.