Sunday, June 10, 2012

Bleach Shirts with Marker

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I've been seeing a lot of bleach pen shirts on the internet lately. However, most of them seemed a little crude.  Only a few people were talented enough to do intricate designs.  I suspected I wasn't one of those.  While I do have some artistic ability, I don't like to try to be perfect.  It frustrates me.

Then I stumbled onto an online post about drawing on clothing with permanent markers.  That gave me the idea of combining the two!

So that's what I've done.  Here is one of my earliest shirts (the 2nd one actually.)

The thing I learned on the first shirt was to either work fast or move around on the design.  On my first try, there was a lot of contrast on one side and not much on the other since the bleach was there for an unequal amount of time.

Here are the steps I've been using:

1. Put something inside the shirt.  It must be smooth and it's nice if it's waterproof.  A cookie sheet is great depending on the size.  I have been using a drawing board at times but smooth cardboard might work.
2. Arrange the shirt so it's straight on your board and you can tell where you want your design.  You will need to be able to tell if your design is straight - unless you are going for a really random look.
3. Some people may want to sketch a design with chalk or a disappearing marker.  I skipped this, just had an idea in my mind.
4. Start drawing with the gel bleach pen.  As I mentioned above, work fast or skip around on your design.  You don't want one area to look completely different.

5. Rinse when the color changes.  Don't leave the bleach on too long or it may weaken the fabric (before long there will be a hole). It's nice if you can leave the shirt on the board or cookie sheet.  I have rinsed some of mine with the water hose.  If you do have to remove the board before rinsing, be very careful.  If the fabric folds over, you will have a light spot in an unwanted area.  (Actually that's what happened to my example so I added more bleached areas than I originally intended.)

The shirt is drying on a bench on my porch.
6. Dry the shirt.  I usually spin mine in the washer and hang it to dry, but if you are doing laundry it won't hurt to throw it in and let it wash and dry.

Do your marker drawing in such a way as to conceal flaws of the bleach pen.
7. Put your shirt back on the board. Now you can start drawing with a permanent marker.
8. When done, iron the design. Use a hot setting since it seems to set the marker.
9. Wash and dry the shirt. (It will smell weird if you don't, from the marker and ironing.)
10. Wear your shirt and tell everyone where you learned how to make such wonderful designs!

Below is one more example.  

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  1. Here is a great link. This is one of the examples that I liked, helped me get my idea!

  2. I like how you used the permanent marker to add details. I've pinned your t-shirt idea for later--working on my first bleaching today with doilies and bleach spray.