Day 21: Bleach Pen T-Shirt

As usual with these projects, there is a certain amount of learning curve.  I’m trying a whole bunch of different things that I’ve never done before.  On the one hand, I’m pretty creative and crafty and I’ve worked with different materials so I have an idea of how something will work (or not), on the other hand, when you are doing a different project every day for 30 days, it’s easy to become overwhelmed!

This is a t-shirt that has the lyrics of a favorite song written on it with a bleach pen.  I first wrote it out in chalk.  I was inspired by this. I actually did this whole project this morning before work.  The only problem is I was using an old bleach pen and I didn’t realize the bleach had evaporated.  It had a fairly mild smell and I should have realized it wasn’t bleachy enough. So after getting the whole thing written in chalk and written over in bleach pen it didn’t work.  I got a new pen after Jazzercise and started over.

I loved the way it came out the second time around anyway, so I guess it’s just as well I decided to redo it.

I lay some plastic shopping bags into the shirt so the bleach wouldn’t go through to the back of your shirt.  Smooth out the wrinkles as best you can.

I wrote out the lyrics of one of my favorite songs on the shirt using chalk.   It was recently sung at my father’s memorial service by the Threshold Choir.

To Dream Again

By Wendy DeMos

I bow to your magic.

I fall into your grace.

I move toward a prayer.

Your fields and rivers waiting.

For the dawn the shadows breaking.

To dream again.

To dream again.

To dream.

As lovely as the lyrics are, it is the music that is so incredible.

There are pictures online of other wonderful bleach pen projects but I wanted to try this song.  I might do a peacock feather next.  I can imagine a mendhi-like design being particularly effective.  (Mendhi is the temporary skin decoration made of henna and often seen in elaborate designs on hands and feet of brides in India).

I wrote on my cotton t-shirt with chalk.  I read that the bleach from a bleach pen can spread and the chalk helps to slow the spread.

I didn’t have that issue (I’m using a gel bleach pen) but wanted to write it out first before jumping in with the bleach.  The chalk is actually a little harder to write with than the bleach pen, but it was helpful to follow once I started with the bleach pen. I also wrote out the song on paper because I’ve found when you are working slowly on a craft project  and in this case focused on getting the chalk to write on the fabric, it is helpful to have something to look at to help stay on track.

You might consider using either an old t-shirt or picking one up from a thrift store (maybe one that already has a spot or two of bleach?) because this does have the potential for wrecking a shirt.

I kept some paper towel on hand to wipe the tip of the bleach pen.  Sometimes I would get bubbles but I just kept going.

Open a window for ventilation and shake the bleach pen well.  If it doesn’t smell very bleachy, you may find, as I did, that the active ingredient has evaporated.  I got a new pen and it was fine.

Start at the top and use a steady hand.  I tried to keep writing if I was on a roll than go back and add connecting lines, dots on the i’s, etc.  Wipe the tip of the pen with your paper towel every once in awhile.

Different fabric and dye will respond differently to the bleach pen.  I was concerned about damaging the shirt but actually found it was not as bleached -out as I expected.  The bleach gel medium is a little tricky because it looks very white and bleached-out on the shirt but when you run it under cold water you learn it is just the dried or drying gel  that is so white and the words underneath aren’t that light.

After running cold water on the shirt, rinse out all the bleach, than wash.  I used gentle liquid soap that I usually use for lingerie.  I wanted to see the results so after rolling it in a towel, I used a hot iron to press (and dry) my shirt.  I actually went back and wrote over some of the words near the bottom that hadn’t had the bleach on as long as the words at the top. I let the bleach sit for about 5 minutes than rinsed it out, washed it again, wrung it, rolled it in a towel and finally ironed it dry.  The hot iron seems to enhance the bleaching effect.  You could also  throw it in the wash once you’ve rinsed out the bleach.

I’m delighted with the results.  I just wish I’d achieved them earlier this morning before work.

Last year I created Cards with Charm on Day 21.

Thank you for checking out my latest creation.  Nine days left in the 30 Days of Creativity project!


Filed under 30DOC, Crafts

13 responses to “Day 21: Bleach Pen T-Shirt

  1. This is another project I’d like to try! Thanks for the post!!! 🙂

    • Thanks, Juli! I’m really happy with this project. I’ve got the nice, new bleach pen and I’m pretty sure I have a t-shirt in my closet that has a grease spot on it…so, I’m going to do a bleach design! Please do let me know if you try it out.

  2. Another fab project Dianne. Y’know I was looking at this and thinking it could be used in some sort of fabric art or wall hanging. You have definately got the old cogs working. As always thanks for sharing. Have a great weekend.
    Regard Florence xx

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  5. The society these days prefer people who are stylish and trendy. It is difficult to be comfortable along with being stylish, but with trendy and funky t shirts even this is possible.

  6. what kind of chalk do you use? like just chalk you use to write on the sidewalk as a kid?

  7. Stacey

    Thank you for posting this! I found you through a google search after I used a bleach pen on a dark shirt, washed it and had no result. It was like I did my drawing in invisible ink! Now I think that the pen was either too old or the wrong kind..or both. Going to do over tomorrow morning, hopefully with better results 🙂

    • Sounds like an old pen. You have my sympathy because it’s exciting to get the whole thing done and than it is so disappointing to have it disappear. Get a new pen, be sure to shake it up well and I think you’ll be happier with your results. The bleach can evaporate out of the pen and it won’t work. Good luck, keep me posted!

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