Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How-to: Bleached t-shirts

So for a fun back-to-school craft we made bleached t-shirts.  I shared them in my last post, so I am posting how we did them today.  Super easy, and way fun!  My daughter and her friends made them at a back-to-school party at our house.

Supplies needed:

*t-shirt:  100% cotton, cheap ones work great, and darker colors work best (don't need to prewash them, and no problem if they are already washed)
*clear contact paper
*spray bottle filled with regular bleach (no water added)
*big bottle of regular vinegar
*big bucket to fill with vinegar
*design you want to put on your shirt
*piece of cardboard to insert into flat shirt to separate front and back
So the first thing you do is figure out what design you want on your shirt.  I have a cricut, and my kids chose designs from my cricut, and we just put the contact paper in the cricut and cut out their designs.  If you don't have a cutting machine, simply trace your design onto the contact paper and cut it out.  Make sure if you do letters that you get them the right way.

Peel the paper off the contact paper and stick your design on your shirt.

Place the cardboard in between the front and back of your shirt so the bleach won't bleed through to the back, and take the shirts outside.
**remember you will be spraying bleach, so wear appropriate clothing when you do this--i.e. clothing you don't mind getting a little bleach on.  And do it in an area you don't mind bleach getting on.

Have your bucket full of vinegar near to where you are spraying your shirts.

Place your shirt on the ground/table or whatever in the sunlight.  Hold your spray bottle with bleach over your shirt and lightly spray your shirt.  You can move around the shirt and spray or just spray in one spot.  Doing it different ways makes different results.  Let it dry in the sun for a few minutes--it is cool to see the shirt change.  The change happens faster in direct sunlight.

As soon as it has bleached as much as you want it to (several seconds to a few minutes), quickly slide out the cardboard and dunk the whole shirt (with the contact paper still on) in the bucket of vinegar.  This stops the bleaching process.  You may want rubber gloves when you do this.

Rinse the shirt in the vinegar, and take off the contact paper.  Ring out the shirt over the bucket and let dry outside.  Stick the shirt in the wash and wash it to get out the lovely vinegar smell :)

Ta-da!  Cool new shirts!

You get different looks depending upon how you spray your shirt.  This one was sprayed really close and with lots of bleach.  The other discoloring happened because??? we had bleach on our hands?  Not quite sure, but it is the same on the back, so it looks like we meant to do that :)

This was was sprayed a little farther away and not so much.

This one was sprayed closer and more concentrated.

This one was lightly sprayed.

This one was lightly sprayed all over the front.  (This is Miss O at her back to school night showing off her locker)

Hope those directions are clear enough.  If you have questions, just post them in the comments, and I will answer as best I can.  

Thanks for visiting and happy t-shirt bleaching!


  1. They turned out so great!! I am totally doing this :) Thanks!! Hope the kids have a great year - really, though, how do you have a high schooler????

  2. I so so so so so need to do this. My mom has a cricut so I think I need to pester her a bit to bring it next time.

  3. Thanks for sharing this at the 'Your Great Idea' link party on 'Or so she says...'! A new link party just opened up (it's Saturday!) and I wanted to invite you back to share again. Each week I pick two links to feature again on the blog, share on Facebook, pin, and follow on Pinterest. Hope to see you soon...and, I know my readers do too!