Hello Finch Readers! This is Tara, a real life Finch lover, and blogger from Girl Like The Sea. If you ever have the privilege of shopping in person at Finch, you might catch me in there with my three bustling kids, hanging out and obsessing over my next fabric buy. You'll probably spot me from time to time here on the shop blog too, because I just can't seem to get myself out of Nicole's business! I've got a fun project and technique for creating stripes and a galaxy swirl on fabric with bleach to share with you. You can add some fun dimension to a project with a few simple household items that are probably in your cupboards already.
Textile Art With Bleach - A Step By Step Tutorial
The first version of this project I did was a bit of a gamble, and I learned a few things along the way. So I have some quick tips for you to help your process go as smoothly as possible.
- First off, I used a solid organic jersey knit for my project. The particular one I used is low in stock, but a similar one is still up for grabs. I recommend sticking with natural fibers like cotton and bamboo. Silk is likely to be destroyed in the process because of its high protein content (bleach kills protein - that's why your poor hair gets all bent out of shape if you bleach it too much!). Synthetics like polyester don't react as well to bleach and the results might not look great. I also think a solid lends itself better to this sort of thing, just because you don't want an existing print or pattern competing with your work.
Ok, let's get started!
Gather your supplies:
- Fabric for your project (mine is t-shirt pieces already cut out
- Bleach in a spray bottle mixed 50/50 with water
- Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2)
- Rubber Gloves
- Cardboard to place under your project, and one piece for masking anything off that needs to be protected
- Fold accordion style for stripes, with your folds being the width that you want the spacing between stripes to be. Narrow folds for close stripes, wide for more space.
- Grab the middle of your fabric for the swirl and carefully twist it into a neat little rose shape.
Now we get our Walter White on and grab some rubber gloves and chemicals! (If you don't know who Walter White is, look it up. Then prepare to have every other TV show you ever watch pale in comparison)
- Spray a mist over your swirl piece, watching as the color begins to fade and adding more bleach where necessary
- Using a piece of cardboard as a mask, block everything but the folded edges of your accordion folded stripe piece. Thoroughly mist the folded edge with bleach.
- Wait and watch and add more bleach if there are spots you want better coverage on
- Pour some hydrogen peroxide in a bowl while your stripes and swirls fade
- When everything looks good, dunk your fabric into the peroxide until it's saturated
- Ring it out and set it out to dry, or wash it right away by itself with no other laundry.
Admire your work! Pretty neat, right?
A few parting notes: Back in a previous life, I was trained at Paul Mitchell and did lots of experimenting with hair. As I worked with my first bleach art project, I was reminded of my days in hair school, watching people's hair bleach out to some really interesting colors, and all the lessons we got on underlying pigment. Watching the gray lift to orange and then pink, and then waiting for something else to happen on my baby boy's shirt, but seeing it stall out at pink reminded me that until you test it, you really don't know what something will bleach out to. Red is one of the hardest pigments to get into and out of fiber. Once it's in, it kinda stays. If you're concerned about what your fabric will look like after the bleach hits, do a test swatch! This will give you an idea of the resulting color, and how your fabric holds up to the damage. Thanks everyone for reading! Come stop by my little blog and say hi, if you like!