Ever wanted to make a custom shirt to publicly display how much of a fan you are of a T.V. series, Video Game, or Movie? In this Instructable I will show you how to use bleach, a t-shirt or other clothing, freezer paper, and some other common household items to make just that, fandom shirts or even random shirts. I've included examples of some of the shirts that I've done, but this one has detailed instructions for Vault Boy from Fallout. This is not something that I invented. I learned most of everything I know from surfing around http://www.reddit.com/r/bleachshirts/. You can also go to that subreddit and check out the work that others have done, and get help from the community.

Let's get started!

Step 1: Materials


  • T-shirt
  • Freezer Paper
  • An Iron
  • X-Acto Hobby Knife or equivalent
  • Cutting mat/pad
  • Bleach and water mixture (about 50/50)
  • Spray bottle
  • Paper towels
  • Printed Image to trace (Artistic? Draw your own!)
  • Sink, Bucket, or Tub filled with water
  • Tape
  • Cardboard (To act as a barrier in the shirt.)


<p>hey I&acute;ve made my first bleach shirt in 2015 :D<br><br>I printed the image on normal paper and glued double-sided adhesive tape on the back. cut everything out and glued it on the shirt.<br>I wanted to be sure that there goes no bleach under the rand, so I used ductape..<br>also I used a glas plate for the inside of the shirt and put paper towels in it to soke the bleach up.<br><br>I had no idea that you can leaf the bleach so long on the shirt, I read that it destroys the fabric and makes holes in it when you wait too long O.o<br>that&acute;s why I was worried and only waited one minute or so ^^&acute;</p><p>but i&acute;m really happy with the result and I hope i can make a multi colour version like you!</p>
<p>Awesome shirt bud! Very resourceful too with the materials you used. </p><p>I have also heard that leaving bleach on the shirt for too long with cause problems also, but I have not ran into this problem. I think since the bleach is watered down, and you're not spraying very much on it, it's fine. </p><p>Keep up the good work! I'd love to see your future masterpieces! </p>
<p>thank you very much!<br><br>i'm looking for a new material for the stencils, that i can use them more than once..<br>it&acute;s time consuming to make such stencils and i find it sad that you have to threw them away after 1x use :(<br><br>i was thinking about foils or so but i don&acute;t know how i should &quot;glue&quot; them on the shirt.<br>also thought about such magnetic paper, cut the image out, put a thin metal plate inside the shirt and lay the magnetic stencil on it. <br>spray bleach on it, put it in water, remove the stencil -&gt; repeat :)<br><br>what do you think?</p>
<p>Sorry for the delayed reply. I know people use overhead projector transparency sheets to make reusable stencils. Then they stick them with spray on adhesive. </p><p>Example:</p><p>Transparency sheets: <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Apollo-Write-Transparency-Inches-VWO100C-BE/dp/B001GXD2A0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1490732757&sr=8-1&keywords=overhead+transparency+sheets">https://www.amazon.com/Apollo-Write-Transparency-I...</a></p><p>Spray on Adhesive: <a href="https://www.amazon.com/3M-General-Purpose-45-Adhesive/dp/B000PCWRMC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1490732842&sr=8-1&keywords=spray+on+adhesive">https://www.amazon.com/3M-General-Purpose-45-Adhes...</a> </p><p>Hope this helps. I'll try and keep a better eye on my messages in case you have further questions. </p>
Awesome tutorial. I made a test shirt with spray and also tested blotting it on with a paper towel - that was not a success. Afterwards I rinsed it in a solution of oxi-clean, which if my limited chemistry knowledge holds, should neutralize the bleach. It did seem to.<br><br>My stencil was just a piece of cardboard, and it was really basic, but I still really like how it turned out.<br><br>
<p>Thank you! Nice first shirt! </p>
<p>Wow! Never heard of this technique till now and I was airbrushing tshirts for years when I was younger.</p><p>A tip on the masking material... try using adhesive backed shelving paper you can buy at most stores. It's probably more expensive that freezer paper but the benefits are worth it. I would go to my local grocery store back in the day and clear out their whole shelf of that stuff for painting shirts and jackets. Should work the same as the freezer paper.</p>
Is Wax Paper the same as Freezer Paper?
<p>I do not believe so. Wax paper has wax on both sides of the paper, and when ironing over it, the top layer of wax would melt and get messy. Sorry for the late reply. </p>
great guide and I'm quite happy with how mine came out too:) thank you!
<p>Thank you for the compliment, and thanks for sharing! Looks pretty good and will only get better with more practice. Keep it up! </p>
My first attempt at making a bleached shirt, I learned that reusing a windex spray bottle is a bad idea but I'll fix that on my other attempts. Thanks for the idea!
<p>Yeah, you pretty much want a spray bottle that will give a fine mist. Good luck on future attempts. I would love to see how they turn out. Thanks for sharing! </p>
<p>Looks great! I've done this with clear contact paper. Works well, with no ironing needed!</p>
Thanks. I will keep contact paper in mind.
<p>It was pretty basic (especially compared to yours, yours is awesome), but I was happy with it!</p>
<p>Nice! Looks good. </p>
<p>This is my first shot at bleaching decals, I am using cut vinyl for a stencil so there is very good adhesion to the material. Really had a lot of bleeding out on all of the edges. Did I get the material to wet?</p>
<p>That would be my guess. It needs to be a mist. </p>
<p>hey, so i tried this on a small piece as proof of concept, but it keeps bleeding into the surrounding fabric. i cant get any sharp lines like in your ible. i used the printer+trashbag method, everything works great untill the bleach is applied. got any tips?</p>
<p>I'm not sure what you mean by the &quot;printer+trashbag&quot; method. Freezer paper should stick to the shirt rather well. (Make sure you go over it with an iron until it is fully secured) You also want to make sure you don't get the freezer paper to wet with the bleach/water mixture. It's OK to spray the freezer paper, just dab it dry with paper towels. Let me know if this is helpful or not. </p>
<p><a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/Make-your-own-freezer-paper./" rel="nofollow">https://www.instructables.com/id/Make-your-own-free...</a></p><p>this is what i meant by printer+trashbag. the whole process works fine untill i use the bleach, it bleeds into the surrounding fabric so i cant get nice sharp lines. i did try to stop it from spreading by dabbing it with some toilet paper but the bleach will still flow into the surrounding fabric</p>
<p>I would assume the problem is coming from the homemade freezer paper. Is freezer paper not available in your location? I've also heard of people using wallpaper, which wouldn't use the iron, just the adhesive on the paper. </p>
<p>like i said, the paper works fine, but the bleach oversaturates the cloth no matter how little i spray on. it always bleeds into the surrounding fabric thus ruining the lines. i doubt it is the bleach to water ratio because i tried multiple variations, i even tried dabbing on some pure bleach. what do you mean by wallpaper, that the glue would saturate the underlying cloth? or just stick to the fabric?</p>
<p>Possibly your spray bottle sprays too much. It needs to be a mist. Some wallpaper comes on a roll and has adhesive backing, like a sticker. You could cut your stencil out of that and just stick it to the shirt. I think freezer paper works best though. </p>
<p>yep, figured out it was way to much. my spray bottles arent up for the task so i tried using a paper towel to dab on some pure bleach, wich worked quite well:) thnx for the help</p>
<p>Great, glad we figured it out! Share a picture of what you're made if you can. </p>
<p>Wow. That is so cool. It reminds me of guerrilla art that you see out here in San Francisco, but way nicer. My gears are spinning thinking what I can do with your technique. A funny observation of the &quot;Fido&quot; shorts. It looks like it's a shadow from a light projection similar to the bat signal.</p><p>I'm curious about something. I've handled bleach before and that stuff is nasty when I get it on my hands. No matter how many times I wash my hands, the bleach scent seems to want to hang on for a longer while than I can tolerate. Did you use gloves? Also. Did you unintentionally &quot;decorate&quot; the clothing you were wearing with bleach splatter and drippings?</p>
<p>Thanks for the compliments alcurb! As far as getting bleach on my hands, I haven't really had a problem with this. I spray a couple spritz of bleach into the sink to get it coming out evenly, and then wipe the tip with the paper towels I have ready to blot the shirt dry. The spray bottle doesn't get any bleach on me, and I haven't noticed bleach coming through the multiple layers of paper towels. </p><p>Only once have I &quot;decorated&quot; a shirt I was wearing while bleaching. I got a little drip on my finger and wiped it on my shirt. I am more careful now. </p><p>Any other questions, feel free to ask. Please share what you make if you do decide to make something like this. </p>
<p>The spray bottle I used was the gun style pump and it leaked on my hands. I had used it for cleaning bathroom tiles. Yours must be better behaved. I'll look for that type specifically. They got them at bad, bath &amp; beyond near work.</p><p>Forgot to mention that one of aspects that really attracted me to your instructable is the uniqueness of the look that doesn't involve silkscreening.</p><p>Cheers !</p>
<p>I made two Sly Cooper themed shirts for my sister's birthday and they turned out really nice. Thanks for the awesome tutorial! I'll definitely be using this method to make more in the future.</p>
<p>Those look really good! I bet your sister will love them. Thanks for sharing! Also, thanks for the compliment, and I hope to see future shirts you make.</p>
<p>Cunning... 3 Votes :o)</p>
<p>Thank you, thank you. </p>
<p>Definitely going to try this, Nice job on all off these Especially the Rittz one ^S^</p>
<p>Thanks, I appreciate it. The Strange Music symbol would be a good first shirt to make. Wouldn't have to be multicolored. I would love to see whatever you do decide to make. Here is the back of the shirt, but I wasn't too happy with the SM symbol. I also later found out I don't like how I look in red, so I don't wear this shirt :(</p>
Just wondering if tie-dye would work for achieving different colors?
<p>I've never tie-dyed anything, so i'm not sure. If you can apply the dye using a spray bottle, without getting the freezer paper stencil too wet, it might work. I also assume you would be using a white shirt using tie-dye. If you try it, i'd be interested to see the results. </p>
Great instructions, sir. I appreciate it very much. Learned that the areas for your negative space shouldn't be that small, or the bleach solution will still seep in around the edges even if you use an iron between layers. This is a logo that I came up with for our firehouse. Thanks again!!
<p>Sweet! Thanks for sharing, it looks really good. I don't see much bleeding on this one. With time, my shirts bled less and less. Are you going to make more for you indubitably jealous co-firefighters? </p>
<p>Do they have to be cotton shirts or can they be blends?</p>
<p>you have to understand how dyes and fabrics work. Lots of synthetics are designed to hold tightly to chromatophores. That's how they stay color-fast. there are synthetic dyes that are also more resistent to oxidization than others.It might be that with synthetics, you would have to try a different bleaching agent. There are different processes for vegetable fibers like hemp, cotton, linen, jute and Bamboo, than from animal sources like wool and silk, or synthetic sources like polyester, rayon, acrylic, tencel, etc. The problem with blends is that the different fibers release their chromatophores differently, so you wouldn't have as consistent a result. You would start to see how the blend was blended. It's easiest to go with 100% fiber fabric. Cotton is just the easiest because t-shirts and denim are usually all cotton (though denim has been adulterated more often with lycra recently) </p>
<p>I have only used 100% cotton, so I cannot speak about other fabrics. If you have a certain fabric in mind, I would go to Google and search &quot;How does bleach affect XXXX?&quot; I hope this helps. </p>
<p>This is super cool! Great Instructable</p>
<p>Thanks JimmyM2. I appreciate it. </p>
<p>Excellent instructions! My daughter and I made this today from her sketch of our Boston Terrier. Happy with our first attempt; it won't be our last. Thanks for writing this up!</p>
<p>Wow! That looks just like him. Thanks for sharing your results. Love seeing something that I &quot;helped&quot; make! Please share your future work. This really is a great feeling. </p>
So. AWESOME. Saving this to try when I have some free time. Great instructions, thanks!<br><br>PS. You wrote &quot;whose&quot; twice, when it should be &quot;who's&quot; ;)<br><br>Cheers!
<p>Thanks MatthewP23. Fixed the grammar errors. I appreciate you pointing them out. Good luck on your shirts. Share a pic when your done. </p>
<p>I wonder if you could add fabric dye or food coloring to the spray to bleach with a color. Or would the bleach kill off the dye?</p>

About This Instructable




Bio: Hello, my name is Andrew "MF" Hixson. I live in Omaha, NE. I love instructables and have been a long time lurker. I recently published ... More »
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