Friday, December 9, 2011

Kid Project - Bleach-Dyed T-Shirts

Our home has begun to hum with secrets as the kids have been working on making their presents for each other.  There is much whispering, hiding and sneaking about.

Kid 2 finished up his project yesterday and is so thrilled with how it turned out.  The wait to show off his handiwork is slowing killing him - or at least he's pretty sure it is.  We got some solid colored T-shirts, came up with a design that suited each family member and then printed it onto the shirt using plain old bleach. This was an OVERWHELMING success with the boy. Not only did he get to dream up a picture to suit each family member, but then he got to watch the chemical reaction between bleach and color.  To an 8 year old boy, it doesn't get much better that.  This is a project we did over a couple of days.

Supplies needed:
           Solid t-shirts                                 Regular bleach
            Scissors                                       Rags and towels
           Newspaper                                   Sticky-backed craft foam
  • If you use a brand new shirt, be sure to wash and dry it before doing this project.  New fabric has sizing on it that will prevent the bleach from soaking in.
  • Decide on a logo for each shirt you want to make.  Neither my son or I are great freehand artists.  Once he decided on a picture, we used Google Images to look up silhouettes of what we wanted.  Then we printed them out.  After printing them out, we cut them out and traced them onto sticky-backed craft foam.  The craft foam was our idea to use to block the bleach. It worked fairly well. Last of all, we cut the shape out of the sticky craft foam
  • Cover work surface with newspaper.  Lay shirt flat on surface.  Peel backing off foam and stick to shirt, making sure to press down around the edges for a good seal.
  •  Fold towels flat and lay them in the shirt.  This prevents bleach from soaking through to the back of the shirt.  Pour some bleach into a bowl and then dab it on the shirt, being sure to press up against the edges of the design.  Set shirt aside for bleach to absorb the color.  We let the shirts sit for at least an hour and reapplied bleach several times during that hour. I wish we would have let them go longer for a truly white effect..
When shirt is as bleached as you would like, or when your kid is jumping up and down with anticipation and cannot wait ONE MORE SECOND, peel off foam to reveal the logo underneath.  Rinse shirt in cold water to stop the bleaching process.  Run through the dryer to set the color for good.  And - that's it! A fun, easy, inexpensive project.  Here are the rest of our designs.

Music notes for piano playing big sister.  This design was a little tricky because parts of it were so thin.  The bleach kind of soaked in under the edges.  The process definitely works better with a chunkier design.

Next up was what he termed a "super-hero" look for the 4 year old brother.  For whatever reason, he was pretty sure a super hero should have a lightening bolt  with "some lines around it to show how powerful the lighting is.  This is the result.

Next up - a shirt for baby brother.  Since Baby is excited about anything with a star and it is one of the few words that he can say very clearly, he got a star shirt.

Last of all and probably the hands down favorite, was what he came up with for Dad.  Those of you who know the Dad - know that Dad has an ongoing war with squirrels.  This started years ago when squirrels chewed a hole into our attic and has been much exacerbated since we moved to a house surrounded by lovely pecan trees.  Every year, it is a great battle to see who will get the most pecans - Dad or the squirrels?  Dad has come up with all sorts of tricks to make our property most hostile to squirrels.  Therefore, this shirt is highly fitting! The boy could not stop laughing over this one.

Overall, I'd call this project a huge success.  We scored plain t-shirts at Walmart for $2.50 a piece, the sticky foam cost $3.00(also at Wal-mart) and the bleach we had on hand. Total cost was about $13.00 for 4 shirts.  The mess factor was minimal and gathering supplies was easy.  The boy is completely thrilled with the results and cannot wait to show off his creativity. Let us know if you try this one!

1 comment:

  1. Another way is to use spray bottles! :)