By Molly Saunders, Digital Bear
Because we’re all pressed for time and money, I thought I’d share this simple craft for fall. It’s great because you can bring new life to your children’s old T-shirts, and it costs less than five dollars. All you need is an old T-shirt (or something you find at a thrift store) and a bleach pen (be sure to get the one meant “for whites.”) I’d recommend this craft for kids old enough to follow directions and those that enjoy art projects, because this one takes just a little bit of patience.
Lay out your shirt on a flat work surface. (If you are working with children, be sure to protect the work area and have them wear clothes that could possibly get bleach on them.) *This is not what I would consider a messy project, but because it involves bleach, it’s a good idea to be cautious.
If you have a plastic lid or piece of cardboard, you can slip it between the layers of the shirt to keep the bleach from seeping through to the back side.
Start drawing freehand, or find a design you like and go for it! (If you need inspiration, you can search for fall images online. I just really like trees, so I just kind of went crazy on the tank top. For the red shirt, I found a moon image that I liked and used that as inspiration.)
Here is a list of ideas for your shirt: Lightning, storms, black cats, bats, bugs, spiders, spider webs, witches, witch hats, pumpkins, Jack o’ lanterns, candles, vines (lots of root veggies have pretty vines, like sweet potatoes!), moon, stars, skeletons, skulls, cornstalks, sunsets, falling leaves, apples… I could go on and on!
These pictures illustrate how quickly the bleach gel dried. The thicker the lines, the longer it takes to dry.
If the tip of your pen gets bubbly, just wipe it off with a paper towel. The thinner your lines, the more detailed and precise your design will be. The lines on my tree came out pretty thick because I was rubbing in the gel as I drew, not knowing how well the bleach actually worked.
Once it’s dry, it becomes a bit cracked, and it’s easy to rinse off. Carefully, under the kitchen sink, rinse off all the bleach gel. (Depending on the age of the children involved, this may be better for adults to handle.) If you rub it quickly under the running water it will easily rinse off without bleeding into other sections of your design.
I even dried mine with a dry pair of pants (to get the wrinkles out of the pants) and no bleach was transferred.
If you’re worried about running out of gel in the bleach pen, don’t be. I made both of these and still feel like there is enough in the same pen for one or two more shirts.
I’ll definitely be using this trick for many things in the future. This is a craft that’s great for all ages, and it can be altered to fit so many holidays, gifts and home décor ideas. I can see it working on tablecloths, napkins, wall hangings, etc. Really anything with fabric would work.
Have you ever used a bleach pen like this before? What suggestions or ideas can you share?
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