Posted by: Leslie White | October 7, 2012

Reverse Dying

Front of my shirt!

Back of my shirt!

This is the stencil we used, pinned down on the back of my shirt.

This weekend Sarah Hegmann and I got together and reverse dyed some shirts. Reverse Dying is the process of intentionally bleaching dark colored shirts to make them look nerdy and amazing. This was out first go at it, so we used a rib cage stencil we found online.  Here is our process:

We first put a layer of plastic-wrapped cardboard inside of our shirts. This kept the shirts flat and prevented bleach from bleeding through to the other side. We then pinned the stencil down onto the shirt using thumb tacks (Sarah’s genius idea!). The stencil was printed or regular computer paper, but I covered the entire stencil with clear packing tape before cutting it out. This created a water-proof barrier so that the bleach wouldn’t soak through the paper in places where we didn’t want it. We started using a 1:7 bleach to water ratio, but eventually realized that mix wasn’t quite strong enough, so we added more bleach. We put the mixture in a spray bottle and squirted it directly onto the shirts. Then we waited. How long we had to wait depended on how strong the bleach solution was. By the end of the project, I was using a very high bleach concentration, and we could literally see the shirt changing colors within a matter of seconds. We quickly rinsed the shirts with cold water to wash away the bleach. If you leave bleach on the shirts for to long (or if your solution is too strong) the bleach will eat holes into the shirt.

Anyway, this was an inexpensive and fairly easy project and the shirts turned out really cool. I’ll definitely be trying this again!



  1. Thanks, Leslie! That’s interesting.

    Aunt Sharon

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