Okay…I admit I’ve always wanted my very own TARDIS… Who wouldn’t?!? As long as it comes with a Time Lord, I’m set. :)
Since I am highly doubtful that my TARDIS dream will ever be a reality (anyone out there who knows David Tennant or Matt Smith and is willing to pull some strings would earn my eternal gratitude!), a girl has to settle for Plan B. My Plan B is to put the TARDIS on everything I possibly can.
Today, that thing is a t-shirt!
I had a ball painting the TARDIS on my DIY Handbag, but in order to get acrylic paint to behave better (I admit, I’ve never thought about washing a handbag before…) you need to add some acrylic medium when painting on clothing so that your fabric stays soft and lasts through more washes. Note: You don’t technically NEED to add it–acrylic paint won’t wash out–but it helps keep the color vibrant and also helps your fabric still feel like fabric and not get too stiff.
So, instead of painting, I decided to bleach.
Bleaching can be a lot of fun (and is certainly less expensive) but whenever you tackle a project that involves color, the first thing you need to think about is…well, the color!
When you paint, you can either paint on the darker contrast or opt to paint lighter tones and cause the fabric under to contrast.
When you bleach, whatever the bleach touches will automatically lighten. So technically, whatever is covered by the stencil will be what contrasts.
I’ll show you an example of what I mean:
TARDIS stencil on fabric with paint (Notice how the black paint instantly creates contrast, causing the fabric to pop):
TARDIS stencil with bleach (Notice how the bleach lightens the fabric, creating contrast with the original color of the t-shirt, causing it to pop):
Whatever way you choose to do it, I promise you’ll have a ton of fun getting it done.
So what do you need to create your own bleach tee masterpiece? You probably already have everything on-hand!
- The first thing you will need is a t-shirt. It doesn’t have to be the most fancy thing on the planet or even brand new. (Got an old oil-stained or paint-stained one you’ve been hanging on to? This project is perfect for it!!)
- Freezer paper. You will need this to create your stencil and it’s absolutely critical to getting a good bleached tee.
- A printer.
- A sharp X-acto knife. Scissors won’t work unless you are doing something with relatively straight edges and no inside cut-work.
- An iron.
- A glass measuring cup.
- A spray bottle.
- A rag you don’t mind getting bleached.
- Rubber gloves.
- Cardboard or aluminum foil and a large flat surface.
- White vinegar.
- Washing machine and dryer.
- A nice day to work outdoors.
The first thing you need to do is decide what to put onto your shirt. The internet is full of interesting graphics that would work well when bleaching a tee. Just pull up Google and type in silhouette followed by whatever it is you are interested in finding an image of and you won’t be disappointed.
If you’d rather tackle the TARDIS above, you can grab a copy of my template right here: HodgePodge Crochet DIY Bleached TARDIS Tee.
Once you have your image, the next thing you need to do is print it and then layer it under your freezer paper and trace over it. You will be cutting out everything that is white and leaving everything that is black. TAKE YOUR TIME!! Spending extra time now to make it right will pay off later!
I recommend writing on whatever part of the stencil will need to be removed to make the whole process simpler.
Now that your template is all trimmed, it’s time to iron it onto your tee. MAKE SURE you are ironing shiny side down. The shiny side is the side that will adhere to your shirt and you don’t want that stuck to your iron!
Use a hot iron with no steam and once you have the paper good and stuck down, leave your shirt to cool off for at least 30 minutes. It’s not mandatory but I find that I get a better resist when I let the fibers cool off from the heat of the iron.
While you are waiting, mix up your bleach solution. I do NOT recommend using straight bleach for this project. It’s way too harsh for the fabric and will more than likely eat through the t-shirt before you have a chance to peel back your stencil. Instead, measure out a 50/50 ratio of bleach to water and add it to a spray bottle. Make sure that you label the bottle so there aren’t any accidents later!!
When you are ready, use your cardboard (or you can substitute some aluminum foil instead) and slide it inside your shirt. This will be used as a barricade so that the bleach only stays on the front of the shirt. Feel free to skip this part if you plan to bleach the back as well as the front.
Now is a good time to take your work outdoors. Bleach is not fun to breathe in and can be dangerous if inhaled. Working outside provides great ventilation as well as great lighting!
All that’s left is to put on your gloves, grab your rag, and start spraying your bleach mixture!
BUT WAIT!! DON’T GO CRAZY!!!
Lightly spray your design, blot up the excess asap, and then force yourself to wait!! You won’t see anything happen at first but give it a few minutes for the bleach to work its magic. You will notice the fabric you’ve sprayed to begin lighten. The result is more dramatic with darker colored tees.
Quick tip: Don’t let your bleach pool anywhere and try to keep your paper as dry as possible. Also, BLOT!! Don’t wipe. Wiping might push bleach under your stencil and ruin your design.
Keep layering on bleach as you go, waiting between sprays and blotting up excess bleach, until you get the desired effect.
Once you are happy with your design, leave the shirt to sit for a few minutes (it should be barely damp, not soaking) and then carefully pull off the stencil. Make sure your hands are clean (no bleach!) otherwise you may end up bleaching an area that you didn’t want bleached!
Now that you’re all done with the bleaching, it’s time to deactivate it and stop the process!! The first thing to do is immediately throw that shirt into some water (running water is awesome!!) and rinse and rinse and rinse!
Make sure you really rinse well because the next step involves vinegar and you don’t want to mix bleach with vinegar!! That’s bad..
Once your shirt is totally rinsed–several times with lots of fresh water–it’s time to deactivate whatever bleach might be left with some straight white vinegar.
Throw your shirt into a bowl and then pour some vinegar over it and squish it through. Then leave it to sit outside for 1-3 hours to do its work.
After it’s done soaking, ring it out and rinse it one last time with some fresh water and then launder as usual!
The result is pretty spectacular!!
If you try one of your own, head on over to facebook and share it with me! I’d love to see your creations!