Tie Dyeing is always hip and now you can learn how super easy it is to Reverse Tie Dye Shirts and Jeans with this fun bleach dye tutorial
Who doesn’t love a great tie dye? And, tie dyeing my own clothes has always been one of my favorite summer projects… it’s the old hippie in me, I guess.
My girlfriends and I get together sometimes for a tie dye party in the garden. We gather old T shirts, bedsheets and boring, white socks and enjoy a crafting afternoon together.
Basic steps of Reverse Tie Dyeing:
- Gather Supplies
- Tie your fabric
- Make a bleach/water solution
- Spray the bleach solution on the fabric
- Wait . . .
- Rinse and thoroughly wash fabric
- What is Bleach Tie Dyeing?
- Tye Dye, Tie Die, Tie Dye or Tye Die??
- Useful Supplies:
- How to Reverse Tie Dye, Step by Step:
- This Dyed Sweatshirt is SUPER COOL!
- Is it better to bleach tie dye wet or dry?
- Bleach Tie Dye Patterns
In previous tutorials, I have shared how to tie dye a heart shape and also the accordion fold tie dye method. This time I wanted to show you how to reverse tie dye with bleach.
Unlike traditional tie dyeing where you add color to a light colored fabric, reverse dyeing involves removing the color that is already in the shirt.
Did you know you can also reverse dye with a bleach pen? That’s a really cool way to add specific designs and shapes to your colored tee.
What is Bleach Tie Dyeing?
The basic wrapping and tying techniques of reverse dye or bleach tie dyeing are the same, however you don’t need any special tie dye kits or even RIT dyes.
Instead, all you need is a colored t shirt, hoodie or bedsheet and some plain bleach, water and a spray bottle.
First, you will fold your t shirt to create your pattern. Then, instead of adding color, you will apply a bleach and water solution to take away the original color.
You would think the bleached areas of the garment always turn white, but that is not usually the case. It’s interesting to see the color left behind after the bleach has a chance to activate.
For instance, dark blue and black fabrics tend to leave a purple or red color which makes for a pretty cool effect.
Tye Dye, Tie Die, Tie Dye or Tye Die??
So, how do you spell it?? Tie, Tye, Die and Dye are words that are so easy to get mixed up!
Believe me, I have been dyeing yarn for years and I still have to think about it sometimes. DIE means, well, you cease to live. And to be honest, I am not really sure what TYE means.
So, in this case, it is spelled TIE DYE.
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How to Reverse Tie Dye, Step by Step:
SAFETY FIRST! Since you will be using bleach, it is a good idea to do this dyeing outdoors. Bleach fumes are toxic and you really do not want to breathe them in.
Also, bleach is extremely hard on your skin so I recommend wearing rubber gloves to protect your hands.
Preparing Your Shirt
You can use any of the traditional tie dye folding techniques for this project including the spiral, bullseye, accordion fold, stripes or crumple method.
Here, I will show you how to do the spiral design but feel free to experiment with other techniques.
First, you will want to thoroughly cover your table with plastic. Remember, bleach will stain or remove the color from anything it touches so make sure you also wear old clothes.
Next, lay your shirt flat on the table, straightening and smoothing out any wrinkles.
If you are using the spiral technique, you need to decide where you want the center of the spiral to be. (It does not have to be in the middle of the shirt).
Now, grab and pinch that spot of the shirt (front and back) and slowly start turning your hand to create a spiral.
Take your time with this, adjusting the folds to keep the fabric neat. Try and keep the folds together as tightly as possible as this will make a neater dye pattern.
In normal tie dyeing, you would now secure your folded shirt with several rubber bands. Since you won’t be moving your shirt around, you can skip this part.
If, however, you want to flip it over to bleach the other side, you may want to secure it. Keep in mind, the rubber bands will block the bleach spray and therefore change the final design.
Classic Spiral Tie Dye Technique
Applying the Bleach
Begin by adding 3/4 cup water and 1/4 cup bleach to your spray bottle. Gently shake to mix well.
Before you begin spraying your shirt, you may want to test the spray of your bottle in a sink or outside. You want your bottle on the ‘spray’ setting, not ‘stream’.
Once you have the spray adjusted, carefully start spraying the top part of the folded shirt with the bleach solution. Make sure you cover the whole top part of the shirt.
Spraying a T shirt with a bleach and water solution
How Long Do You Let Bleach Tie Dye Sit?
How long you let the bleach sit on the shirt really depends on the material. Some fabrics and dyes lighten much quicker than others.
Basically, I would recommend that you just let your shirt sit for 10 to 30 minutes, checking the progress regularly. Make sure and look at it every few minutes to see how the reverse dye is working. My blue and red shirts took about 20 minutes to bleach.
Note: it is very important that you keep an eye on your fabric and check it every 5 minutes or so. Bleach is a caustic substance that can easily burn a hole right through your shirt, if left on too long.
Rinsing your T Shirt
Finally, once you’re happy with the bleached out parts of your shirt, rinse it thoroughly with cold water and then wash it in your washing machine.
Don’t wait on this or the bleach will eat through the fabric of your shirt!
That’s all there is to it! The entire process takes only about an hour which is way quicker than traditional tie dyeing.
Now that you know how to tie dye with bleach, have some fun with this technique!
Make up your own patterns and folds and try a variety of different colored t shirts.
This Dyed Sweatshirt is SUPER COOL!
Is it better to bleach tie dye wet or dry?
Honestly, neither way is better or worse, it just depends on the look you are after.
If you pre-wet the fabric, the liquid bleach solution will flow when applied creating somewhat blurry lines.
On the other hand, if you apply the solution to a dry shirt, it will pretty much stay where you applied it which should leave you with clearer, more crisp lines.
- No Special Tools Needed
- Fold your T-Shirt with any tie dye technique (spiral, accordion, etc.)
- Secure with Rubber Bands (optional)
- Add 3/4 Cup water and 1/4 cup Bleach to your Spray Bottle (set to 'Spray')
- Spray top of shirt
- Let sit for 10 - 30 minutes, watching for color change.
- Rinse thoroughly with cold water and then wash in machine
- Hang to dry
SAFETY PRECAUTION: Since you will be using bleach, it's a good idea to do this reverse dyeing outdoors. You don't want to breathe the fumes. Also, bleach is extremely hard on your skin so I recommend wearing rubber gloves to protect your hands.
Bleach Tie Dye Patterns
As I said, you can use this reverse dyeing technique with any pattern, including all of the traditional tie dye patterns such as: Spiral, Crumpled, Accordion Fold, Bull’s Eye, Shapes (heart, guitar, etc.) and Flag fold.
You can also do random folds and swirls which gives your fabric a more organic look. Also, any Shibori dye method will work including pole dyeing, arashi, kumo and more.
Regardless of which tie dye pattern you choose, each shirt will be completely unique and creative!
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