guest blog post: DIY bleach tie dye

Post image for guest blog post: DIY bleach tie dye

Last summer, we were obsessed with shibori indigo tie dying. No, really . . . we just about dyed anything white in sight. So when Free People asked us to include a DIY in our guest blogger series, we knew a new tie dye project was absolutely in order. Reverse tie dye or extracting color using bleach has intrigued us for some time now and as the weather is warming up, what better time than now than to start experimenting with tie dye again!

To make a reverse tie dyed shirt, we used a black Free People shirt (bleach works best on natural materials, especially cotton), a few cups of bleach, a bucket, a pair of gloves, a few rubber bands and 2 flat shaped objects.

To make a grid-like pattern, fold the shirt like an accordion and bind it between two pieces of wood or any flat shaped object. Hold the shirt in place by wrapping a series of rubber bands around the bind. Anything used to bind the clothing will prevent the bleach from penetrating, so remember, any fabric exposed will bleach and turn color. Click here for more binding methods.


Before you start the process, make sure you are wearing gloves and bleaching outdoors or in a well ventilated area. Dilute approximately 4 cups of bleach with 1 cup of water. Submerge the shirt into the bleach for only a couple of seconds. Watch it very carefully because depending on the thread count of the clothing, the color can turn very quickly and the bleach may start eroding the fabric. As soon the black fabric transforms into a rusty brown color, immediately remove it from the bleach. Unbind it, rinse it with water and let it hang dry.


You’ll notice that the brown color will slowly fade into an even lighter shade over time. Once its dry, run the shirt through the washing machine.


Your reverse bleach tie dye shirt is ready to wear!


(top image from here, rest of images by HonestlyWTF)

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Andrea -March 16, 2011, 10:05AM

Love it!! I’m going to give it a try!

MB at Yarn U iPhone app -March 16, 2011, 10:54AM

I love would be even fun with some plain jane cotton yardage that you know idea what to do with. Thanks for sharing….

Fionazhou -March 16, 2011, 10:56AM

Fulling of imagination! I’d like to have a try!

jenn -March 16, 2011, 11:03AM

Love this! Best DIY I’ve seen in a while. Can’t wait to do this one.

Amanda -March 16, 2011, 12:09PM

Fabulous idea. I know exactly what shirt I’m doing this to! LOVE Love LOVE you fp:)

ariana -March 16, 2011, 12:38PM

thanks fp! i love this idea!!! this is a reallly great diy! :)

Tree -March 16, 2011, 2:01PM

Sweet tutorial but keep in mind… Bleach can continue to erode and damage the fibers unless you use bleach-stop or something similar. So if you want your shirt to last, go buy some and treat it.

Tonya -March 16, 2011, 3:37PM

Im definitely going to do this sometime soon! Great idea.
Btw I just wanted to let you guys know I have a knew post up on my blog featuring the FP tuxedo dress! Hope you guys like it :)
Thanks. (

catie -March 16, 2011, 9:35PM

i love the look of tiedye, especially on sun dresses. i cant wait to try this out on my own!

Sierra -March 16, 2011, 10:36PM

That is awesome… I want to do that to a skirt

Kat -March 17, 2011, 8:30AM

Absolutely love this. Sometimes I feel like regular tie dye has been too “juvenile” for lack of better words, but this is such a nice twist. Trying this when the weather’s nice out east!

janelle -March 17, 2011, 6:03PM

you need to soak it in vinegar afterwards to stop the bleach from reacting. just sayin’

Elizabeth -March 18, 2011, 8:51AM

Looks very good! Can’t wait to try it! I have one question though. What do you mean by fold it in accordion style??

morgan Krhin -March 20, 2011, 1:00PM

do you submerge the whole shirt into the bleach? when do you use the bleach-stop? before or after washing?

Kristiana -March 21, 2011, 2:41AM

i tried it out today with a thrifted maxi dress!! :)) heres how it looks:

Margo Isadora -April 4, 2011, 4:00PM

Tried it out the first warm weekend! My tops came out well- excellent DIY

Jennifer -May 22, 2011, 5:04PM

I just did a post about dying an old dress. Instead of using bleach, I used two different colors.

A Cup of Sparkle -July 12, 2011, 1:36PM

Hey, I have included your awesome tutorial in my blog. You can check it out from the link below:

Amy -May 25, 2012, 12:59AM

I tried this. I did not work. It turned red and after it turned red it turned kind of yellow. The pattern came out nothing like this!!

英文SEO -December 19, 2012, 2:57AM


Nadya -September 3, 2013, 11:11PM

Such a great idea!
Used it in my own DIY:

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