Monday, November 10, 2008

Bleach Stencil Tutorial

Here it is! I'm really excited about this post. I've recieved many requests for a "bleach stencil"tutorial. I finally got it all together. These shirts are so easy and they look great! The best part is that you can turn a plain, inexpensive t-shirt into a customized creation. For any of you that try this out, I want to see your creations too!

Be creative! There are no limits on what you can do!

Materials needed:


Freezer paper

Craft knife

Iron and Ironing board

Spray bottle

Bleach and water

Step 1: Print out your stencil onto Freezer Paper (Cut a 8.5 x 11 piece of paper to put in the printer and make sure the stencil prints on the non-plastic side of the paper.)

Step 2. Cut out the design with the craft knife. hint: cut on the plastic side of the paper for easier, more precise cutting.
Usually I will cut out and discard the black parts of the stencil and keep the white. (It is hard to distiguish the black and white on the owl in these pictures).

Don't forget to keep the small pieces (e.g. the eyes or the middle of the O's)

Now the hard part is over! Now for the fun stuff.

Step 3: Place the t-shirt on the ironing board and place the stencil on the shirt making sure it is centered. Run a moderately cool iron over the freezer paper so that the paper sticks to the shirt.

This is the miracle of freezer paper! Isn't it great!?!

I do the biggest pieces first and then put on the smaller ones.

Step 4: While the shirt is still on the ironing board, place a piece of cardboard inside. This is to protect the bleach from soaking to the back side of the shirt. This also helps to keep the stencil from coming up when you move the shirt.

I used the back of a cereal box. It is just the right size.

Step 5: Place the shirt on a table or counter (wherever you have enough room). Place newspaper around the stencil to catch the over spray.

Step 6: Mix your bleach water.
I use 2 parts water to 1 part bleach. The best spray bottles for this project are these little ones you can get at Wal-Mart or Target. They are very small fingertip spray bottles. They have a very fine mist which evenly distributes the bleach water and prevents splotches. Hair spray bottles will also work, but they don't always have a fine spray.

Step 7: Spray!
Spray just enough to make the shirt damp. If you spray too much it will soak into the fabric and smudge your beautiful, crisp lines.
(I also used rocks to hold down my newspaper. )

Step 8: Let the bleach dry and spray again. Keep doing this until you get the desired lightness. I was lucky on this one, it only took me 2 sprays and it was white. Usually it takes me from 3 to 5 times to get it just right.

Step 9: Almost done. When the shirt is dry, remove the stencil and rinse in HOT water. This will stop the bleaching process. I also scrub a little soap into the stenciled area to remove any leftover bleach.
Step 10: Wash and wear.
Wash as usual and enjoy your new one-of-a-kind wearable art!


meleandmakani said...

You did a great job on the tutorial! I love how you've gotten it down to a science. I think I'm going to do a few shirts for my nieces for Christmas now that I found the perfect spray bottle ;0) So fun!

Bon said...

thank you thank you! i'm off to go make some new shirts for tucker!

Bon said...

p.s. did you use a specific website to get your stencils?

Jabers & Jeni Hall said...

I found the owl pic on google images. Here is my fave stencil site that I usually use:

Amy said...

Wow! That's really cool. What's most impressive to me is that you do all that with two little kids. Looks like fun. Your Halloween festivities looked super fun as well. Your boys looked really cute in their costumes.

Erica said...

Thanks for this great--detailed--information! I am so excited to try it out. It was great seeing you and Simon at the park on Tuesday. See you soon!

Erica said...

Another place to check out for design ideas is They have tons of shirts (adults and kids), and might be a good place to get some ideas.

Darce said...

What a fun idea! Hey, thanx for checking out my blog--that was a nice surprise. And, I didn't know you had your baby--he's a cutie! But, that's no surprise since your other one is, too!

Si and Ry

Si and Ry