Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Refashioned Skirt: Bleach Stripes DIY

Bleach striped skirt, 
refashioned from a stretchy old black pencil skirt 

I have been mulling over the creation of this skirt for quite some time, wondering how I could manage this. I've been researching ideas on pinterest and putting them on my do it yourself upcycled tshirt board. I know it says t-shirt and this is a skirt, but I play fast and loose like that with my board titles. It's really about upcycling old clothes. Which is what I did here. And again, I did it fast and loose. Hey, I guess it's my thing.

 First I picked my item to upcycle. I was originally thinking I could turn a striped tshirt into a skirt, but when I realized I already had a black skirt I rarely wore and was willing to sacrifice if it didn't turn out right, my decision was made. I took my skirt and found a flattened cardboard box that was approximately the same dimensions. Then I slid the skirt over the flattened box and straightened out all the wrinkles. I taped the stripes out on the skirt, using packing tape. I've heard painters tape and duct tape can also work, but I was worried about the duct tape pulling the fabric of the skirt, and I didn't have any painters tape.

I took my whole skirt/cardboard/tape contraption out onto the back deck, laid down some newspapers to keep the mess contained and took out the bleach. Warning: Also wear clothes that you do not mind ruining with bleach stains.  You can see my bleach mixture here, in the tupperware. It's about 50/50 bleach and water. I played it safe, since I've never done this with bleach before and I didn't want to ruin the fabric with a bleach that was too strong. I had a nice new paintbrush to use, and it worked perfectly for my purposes. And yes, I probably should have used gloves, but I barely touched any bleach and had no problem without gloves. I didn't even get any bleach on my clothes. This time, at least. Oh. P.S. I did this outside. Make sure you have good ventilation and your work area is covered/safe from bleach splashes. This projects has the potential to be tragically and permanently messy. Be careful. This is not a project for kids.

 So here I am beginning to paint on the bleach. I saturated the hem and moved onto the next stripe. You can see the bleach already beginning to work, lightening the bottom stripe to brown. Forgive the off kilter photos here, I had a bleach brush in one hand and a camera in the other and was starting to panic when I saw the color start to change so soon. I sped through the stripes, making sure to saturate the bleach through any wrinkles. I was okay with it if it didn't come out perfectly. My original plan here was to paint the stripes on without the tape, but I'm glad I used the tape. It kept me from panicking even more and gave me a guide, and kept the bleach off of the areas I wanted to keep black.

 After I finished bleaching the stripes on one side of the box, I flipped the box/skirt over. You can see at the sides that the bleach has already taken out a lot of the black dye.

 Here is the back side of the skirt after I bleached it.

At this point, my panic took over again. I wasn't sure how the bleach would react and was afraid of leaving it on too long and causing the fabric to burn away. I yanked the cardboard out of the skirt and pulled off the tape... luckily, it mostly came off all at once when the cardboard came out. I tossed the cardboard and the wad of tape to the side and ran to the kitchen sink to rinse out all the bleach.

Here she is rinsed and laid out on the porch for a photo. The stripes are irregular, but still stripey. The bleach bled under the tape, but not too much. In retrospect, I wonder if I should have put the bleach on when the skirt was already wet. I bleached the dry skirt. (update from Jill Plumley. DON'T wet the fabric first or the bleach will spread to all the wet areas. Thanks Jill.) Also in retrospect, I think I would have gone over the whole skirt with another layer of bleach. If you'll notice, the sides of the skirt where the front bleach and back bleach overlapped are a bit paler.

I also would not have been so conservative with my bleach. I might have used a stronger bleach solution and I would have left the bleach on longer for a lighter stripe. I suppose I was worried that the bleach would bleed all the way and remove all of the black. 

But in the end, I was satisfied with my experiment, even if it isn't a white/black skirt and it didn't quite turn out how I expected. I think I will wear this skirt a lot more now than I did when it was pure black.

Here is the back side of the skirt. This was an accidental photo. It turns out, it's kind of hard to photograph your own outfit. The first photo was actually taken by my 5 year old daughter after a tiny bit of tutoring. It's not so bad. Yay, Ivy.  She actually enjoyed taking my fashion photo so much that she said, "take a picture of me!" and did a whole photo shoot. Actually, she might like being in front of the camera better than being behind the camera. 
Here she is, the supermodel. I would like you to note, that she styled her own outfit and the skirt she is wearing is her favorite skirt, which is an upcycled skirt I made her, posted here

I'm wondering if any of you have any experience working with bleach. Do you have any hints or tips?


Jill Plumley said...

Hi! I bleach tshirts a lot & thought you might want to know if you wet the skirt first, the bleach will spread to all the wet areas! I don't think the tape will stop it! Also, garments will bleach different colors depending on the dyes used in the dying process for that garment. So black usually bleaches out to a peach or beige color. Red bleaches out to various pink colors, brown turns peachy or cream..... You can probably search online for more tips on bleaching. I usually have a bucket of water with a cup of vinegar added to put the rinsed garment into to halt the bleaching process. Then just launder as usual. Hope this helps! Jill P.

Rowena said...

It does help, Jill, thanks. No wetting the skirt before hand. Vinegar bath to halt bleaching. Oh, and I had a navy skirt that bleached to RED. So strange. I'm saving that for another post, because I think I'm going to alter it further.

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