Hello, it’s me, Chelsea, and I’m here to jump on this bandwagon because I literally have all the time in the world to take on new hobbies. I mean seriously, during this quarantine, I’ve done everything from planting tomatoes and peppers, to making friendship bracelets, to watching every single TV show and movie on my Hulu/Netflix watch lists and everything in between. So I’m at the point now where I’m like “why not tie dye or bleach die everything in my house?!” It’s funny because I used to tie dye stuff all the time in one of my art classes in high school and I don’t remember if I was any good at it or not but every single thing I have tie dyed so far I’ve started out being absolutely positive that it was going to be crap and as soon as I untie them I’m mesmerized with how good they’ve turned out. I will say, I have never bleach dyed anything before and was kind of intrigued with how cute everyone’s sweat sets on TikTik were turning out. So I had to do one for myself. It turned out super cute but unfortunately I forgot to document it, so I decided to pick up a plain black t-shirt from Walmart the other day and walk y’all through the process just in case you haven’t tried this yet and are wanting to!
What You’ll Need:
* T-Shirt/Sweatshirt/Sweatpants (pretty much any article of clothing, I saw a girl bleach dye a plaid flannel the other day and it was so cute I think that is going to be my next project. For bleach dying I just suggest using an article of clothing that is not white because obviously you can’t really bleach something without any color)
*Bleach (I used toilet bowl cleaner because it’s really hard to find actual bleach right now with everything that is going on, but I honestly like the consistency of the gel, I felt like it was a lot easier to work with but that could just be a personal preference)
*Rubber Bands (these are super cheap so I highly suggest buying a large bag of them because I promise you this will become an addiction. But because this is currently such a trend, a lot of these supplies are hard to find right now so if you can’t find a big bag, get whatever you can find and you can always try not to cut the rubber bands off the shirt when you’re done so you can reuse them)
*Spray Bottle (this is optional. I didn’t end up needing one because I just used the bottle the toilet cleaner came in so it was easy to manage. If you are going to use a bottle of bleach, you might want to grab one of these but again you don’t have to because I’ve seen people just pouring straight out of the bottle. So, again, this is just a personal preference)
Step 1: Bunch Your Shirt
This step to me is the hardest part because you have to decide what kind of design you might want on your shirt. For bleach dying, I suggest using either the crumple technique or the spiral technique (see attached links for a detailed how to). You can try other techniques but these just tend to look the best in my opinion since you are only using one “color” as opposed to when you are doing normal tie dying you are using multiple dye colors.
Step 2: “Tie” or Rubber Band Your Shirt
I usually like a little help with this step because it is sometimes hard to keep your shirt bunched and get the rubber bands in place. For the crumple technique there is really no rhyme or reason to how your rubber bands should be placed. I usually just keep adding them until I feel like the shirt is tight and won’t unbunch. For the spiral technique I am a little more OCD about how to wrap these. It is best if you wrap these to make the shirt look like a pie (I don’t know if that makes sense but that’s the best way I can describe it, sorry). I would say six to eight “slices” is enough but I’ve seen people do more or less and it still turn out really good so again, it’s your call.
Step 3: Wet Your Shirt
This step is simple, I just tossed my shirt in the shower and used the shower head to get it pretty wet. I personally don’t like it soaking wet (I don’t really know if this makes a difference or not) so I will ring it out a could of times before I start the dye process.
Step 4: Bleaching
Okay, now for the fun part! Like I said before, I chose to use a toilet bowl cleaner so having the little pointed tip is a bonus for me. I really have no exact technique for this step other than you want to make sure you don’t cover the whole shirt because you obviously want some of the original color showing. I used the little tip of the bottle to get the bleach down in some of the inner crevices. This step is so cool because the bleach works really fast and you can see the dye coming out of the fabric as the bleach works its magic. Be careful though, I have seen where the bleach has ate through the material if it is left on for too long.
Step 5: Rinse
After you have let the bleach sit on for a while (I let mine sit for about 15 minuets but I made sure to keep an eye on it the whole time) it is time to rinse it out. To do this, I stuck my shirt under the faucet and soaked it for a minute, then rang it out and repeated that process until the water looked clean again. This took forever because there was a lot of die coming off my shirt. My arms HURT from doing this so just beware.
Step 6: Let Dry
Okay so I kind of break the “rules” during this part because I think you are supposed to let it dry in the rubber bands for like 24 hours and I get so eager to see the design I usually take the rubber bands off as soon as I’m done rinsing it out. I have yet to have any problem doing this but I don’t want to be the one to tell you it’s okay and then it not go as smoothly for you. Since I unwrap mine for this step, I usually put my shirt on a hanger and will hang it in my garage over night (to keep the bleach smell out of my house).
Step 7: Wash Your Shirt
I like to do this whole process with a friend or atleast do multiple things at once because I feel so wasteful doing a load of laundry for just one shirt but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Make sure you wash with cold water!!!!! I’m also going to include drying in this step too because I never dry any of my tops when I was regular clothes because I don’t want them to shrink so for me, once I’m finished washing it, I just hang dry it again over night. You can dry it if you want, it’s totally up to you!
Optional Step: Cropping
A lot of people like to crop their shirts and sweatshirts when they dye them and although I think this is super cute, I usually don’t do it because I don’t wear crop tops often. I will go ahead and give you this little tip for this step though. Crop the shirt before you dye it because you will waste less of the bleach or dye and that stuff is hard to come by right now so I think it’s best not to waste it.