Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bleach Pen DIY: Sometimes it doesn't work as expected

I saw this bleach pen DIY a few weeks back and thought it looked like a really fun and easy project.  Plus, a bleach pen is cheap and I figured I could just use it to spruce up something old that I don't wear anymore.  I searched the web a bit to see if anyone else had done the project and I found a couple more examples here and here.  I knew it would work on a jersey material since all of the projects I saw on the web were on a t-shirt.
I decided to stretch it a bit to see if it would work on a heavier duty fabric.  I pulled my old smelly canvas TOMS from the back of my closet and gave them a good wash.  Then I got started.
The only items you really need for a project like this are a bleach pen and the item you wish to bleach.  If you are doing a t-shirt, you probably want to put a piece of cardboard in between your layers of fabric.  I ended up using some masking tape to keep things clean since I have the potential to be pretty messy.  I wanted to create a simple pattern similar to that of the yellow and white shirt above so I grabbed it for reference as well.
I taped them off, shook up the pen, and got to bleaching.  I was hoping that the final product would look similar to the above photo.  Just some bleached out squiggly lines.  Most of the t-shirt projects said to wait 10-15 minutes with the bleach on and that you would notice it getting lighter.  I didn't notice much of a change, but I thought maybe I just couldn't see it because the bleach gel was covering it.  So, I waited about 20 minutes and decided to wash it out.
I was pretty disappointed when you could barely see it at all.  I thought that maybe I needed to shake the pen more and/or leave the bleach on for longer.  So, I put them in the washing machine, let them dry in the sun, and tried again.  I just traced over what I could see of the barely existent pattern.  I gave it a good 30 minutes and noticed no difference.
So then I set them out in the sun with the bleach on thinking it would help activate the process.  I left them out there for 20 minutes and this is what I got...
The sun trick definitely helped activate the bleach, but it also made the area around my lines get lighter too.  I actually don't hate how they look, I did wear them on Saturday and liked them more and more throughout the day.  It certainly wasn't what I had in mind though.
There is still a ton of bleach left in the pen so I already have plans to do a t-shirt for me and a pair of pants for Pearl.  I'm pretty sure those will be much more successful projects.
In conclusion, if you want to do this project successfully, don't do it on canvas and probably don't set it out in the sun either.


  1. Worth a try though! And I don't hate how they turned out either!

  2. Bummer! I love the look of them pre sun though. ;)

  3. =( Maybe your next bleach project will work. I'd relieved to know that I'm not the only one that failed with this activity. I did it on a t-shirt and it wasn't a success though the instructions made it look really simple.

    Found you through Interactive Blog Team, Etsy

  4. I think I know what you had in mind, but these really don't look bad either.
    And I can't wait to see more of your DIY projects with this pen! I really like the idea of bleach pen.

  5. I can't wait to see some other projects you do with that magical bleach pen!
    ♥ Kyna

  6. I think they look quite good the way they turned out. It clearly wasn't what you were going for, but it works. I've had plenty of craft fails, but most don't turn out as nicely as yours did. You'll have to let us know how the next one works out :)

  7. even if it didn't turn out precisely the way you envisioned i agree that they look pretty cool in their own way. and awesome idea all around.


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