I love doing bleach splattering! It is a fast and easy way to provide a fun and unique gift and you can learn how.
Last year I spent a lot of time in my yard doing landscaping and gardening. Several of my family members did the same thing. We joked that we don’t need a gym membership because we get all our exercise in our yards.
That’s what made me think of this design: My Yard is My Gym. And, to make this a quick and easy gift, I opted to do a bleach splattering T-shirt project.
One of the nice things about bleach splattering is you can do it on an old T-shirt first, if you want to do a practice run. It can be your own yard-work or gardening shirt! It’s just going to get dirty and grungy, why not have some fun with it!?
Vinyl as a Resist for the Bleach Splattering Technique
The bleach splattering or spray technique is fast and easy, and it is fun. You can do this technique with kids because the transformation – the bleaching of the fabric – happens within seconds.
Materials and Supplies
(This post contains affiliate links to one or more of the items I used in this project – which means, if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission. There is no added cost to you!)
- A 100% cotton shirt (or mostly cotton) – cotton is most susceptible to the bleaching action — Use a very dark color for the most striking results
- The design from my Resource Library – .SVG for machine cutting
- Transfer tape
- Bleach – I recommend you use the plain ol’ regular bleach and not the zero-splash types. Technically, this could work with the spray cleaners like Clorox Clean-up (I have ruined clothes while cleaning with that stuff) but I prefer to just use straight-up bleach. Even the inexpensive store-brand will work.
- Spray bottle, old tooth brushes, old paint brushes or anything else that can splatter a liquid – I used an old travel-size hairspray bottle that I cleaned out after I used it all and now use for bleach splattering projects. NOTE: I covered the outside of the spray bottle with duct tape and wrote “BLEACH” on the tape using a permanent marker. We don’t need any hair bleaching accidents.
- A craft machine, such as the Cricut, for cutting the design
- Vinyl – You don’t need fancy/expensive vinyl for this since you will throw it all away. You can use vinyl you pick up for free (you can read my post on how to get free vinyl for more information).
- Protective gloves and eyewear – You can find gloves at your drug store and the eyewear is available at a hardware store. Most of the time we are pouring bleach into the laundry machine. This time you will be splatting or spraying it. Please protect yourself and those around you from accidents.
You should protect your work surface and yourself. I used an old shower curtain on my work surface and wore clothes that I did not care if they got bleach splatters on them. It is a good idea to protect the wall and floor around your work surface if there is a chance they could get splattered or sprayed with the bleach.
You should protect your hands because bleach is so harsh. I keep a package of latex gloves in my craft room for messy projects. One final thing you should consider protecting, especially if you are working with children or if you like to be flamboyant with splattering, is your eyes. Having a set of protective eyewear in your craft supplies is a good idea.
Cutting the Design
After you download this design from my Resource Library and upload it to your Cricut Design Space, there are a couple of things to consider.
- You can resize it in Design Space to fit your project
- You need to select all the objects and Attach them. The design is set up as individual elements for those people who want to do multiple colors of heat transfer for different parts of the design. For this bleach splattering T-shirt project, it all should be cut on one sheet of vinyl.
When the cutting is finished, you may find it easier to do weeding while the vinyl is still on the cutting mat. This is especially true if your vinyl wants to curl due to having been on a tight roll. I left mine on my cutting mat for this project.
Weeding the Vinyl
Cricut owners who have worked with vinyl and understand weeding can probably skip to the next section of the project.
I know there are some who are new to working with vinyl and I want to help get you through this step.
Weeding is the process of removing all the vinyl that is NOT a part of the project. For this project, the design is the project so we want to weed off everything that is NOT the design – all of the “background” of the design.
When the background has been removed, use your weeding tool, or something similar such as an X-Acto knife, to pick out the small pieces such as the insides of the letters.
Apply the Transfer Tape
I am right-handed so my instructions are for right-handers. If you are left-handed, you can do this from the opposite direction. Use a piece of transfer tape that is a little larger than the design. Starting at the right side of the design, lay the transfer tape on the design and begin working toward the opposite side by pressing the transfer tape onto the vinyl. Use a burnishing or squeegee tool or something equivalent (such as the edge of a credit card), to secure the transfer tape to the vinyl. You want to make sure that vinyl comes off of the backing paper when it is time to apply it to the T-shirt.
You can consider adding some marks on the transfer tape to help you with aligning the design. This is completely optional.
If you were working with the vinyl still on your cutting mat, remove it from the mat now.
Apply the Vinyl to the T-Shirt
Peel the carrier/backing paper away from the vinyl, making sure that all the pieces of the design stay on the transfer tape. If any pieces try to stay attached to the backing paper, use your weeding tool to help encourage it to release from the backing paper and attach to the transfer tape.
If most of your vinyl tries to stay attached to the backing paper, you did not squeegee it firmly enough. You can fold the backing paper back onto the vinyl and give it a little extra squeegee-ing. 🙂
It is now time to adhere the vinyl to the shirt. If you used marks to help align the design, this is when those marks will help you center the design and make it level.
Use your squeegee tool to get the vinyl securely attached to the shirt.
Remove Transfer Tape from the Vinyl
Slowly start peeling the transfer tape away from the T-shirt folding it back onto the T-shirt. The transfer tape is sticky. Lay your hand on the sticky part of the transfer tape and start pulling away from the T-shirt. As shown in the picture below, if you peel the transfer tape 180 degrees from shirt (parallel to the shirt), the vinyl will release better than if you peel the transfer tape 90 degrees from the shirt (perpendicular to the shirt).
There may be some parts of the design that are stubborn and do not want to release from the transfer tape. Fold the transfer tape back over that portion of the design and use your weeding tool to release the edge of the vinyl from the transfer tape, then continue.
When you get to the end of the transfer tape, the design should now be affixed to the shirt. If you think there are some loose edges, lay the backing paper over the vinyl and squeegee those loose edges.
Bleach Splattering or Spraying
Now comes the fun part. It’s time to do the bleach splattering or spraying.
Put on your protective gear – gloves and eyewear.
I stated earlier that I prefer to use bleach in a spray bottle. I have also used old toothbrushes for spritzing on the bleach and I have used a paint brush knocked against something else (a pencil, another paintbrush, a dowel, etc.).
Concentrate the heaviest in the center of the design and work outward so there is less bleach applied as you extend beyond the design.
The nice thing about this technique is that you can do just a little at first, wait to see how it looks, and add more bleach later. You can’t undo an over-application of bleach so start out easy. There is no need to rush.
Within seconds, you will see the bleach start to affect the color of the shirt. This is fun to watch when we do this on purpose! Below is a photo of the bleach splattering after only one minute.
This next photo shows the effect of the bleach splattering after three minutes.
The bleach is absorbed into the cotton fibers of the T-shirt but it just sits on top of the vinyl. I lay a piece of paper towel over the whole design to absorb the liquid to help it to dry faster.
The Big Reveal!
When the bleach has dried from the vinyl, you can remove the pieces of vinyl from the T-shirt.
After you remove all the vinyl from the shirt, you can wash and dry the shirt to remove all the bleach and be ready to give it to your favorite gardener.
Since I wanted to make gifts for a few of my family members, I decided to use more than one technique in creating these gifts for my favorite gardeners.
I used my Cricut to cut the design for multiple techniques:
- Vinyl as a resist for a bleach-splatter technique on a T-shirt
- Vinyl as a stencil
- Heat transfer vinyl for a totebag
- Infusible Ink for a rich-colorful T-shirt
You can get the patterns to this and all my DIY and craft projects in my Resource Library by signing up for my weekly newsletter.