Vinyl Bleach Shirts Made Simple

The vinyl bleach shirts are awesome.  I saw Jennifer Maker make on during her 25 days of Christmas and had to try it.  I learned a few things as I attempted them and I am going to share that with you.

I made a Harry Potter vinyl bleach shirt for Cordelia, a 2 triquetra shirts for me and I tried to make a Yoda shirt for my brother(that failed). But I fixed the Yoda shirt and included it .

What you will need

  • Removable or Permanent vinyl
  • a shirt
  • weeding tool
  • Transfer paper
  • A barrier of some kind to keep the bleach from going through the shirt to the back.  I use an old cutting mat
  • spray bottle
  • bleach
  • peroxide
  • Download Files
Designing a Project
The first thing I learned NOT to design the project with fine lines or text.  The bleach runs under the vinyl and you don’t get a clear image. Use big images with big spaces.  If you are going to use text, it works sometimes as negative space.  That is make a big shape and cut the text or thin lines out of it but that isn’t always clear either.  See the examples below.

The scroll work worked but not well.  The lines are a little fuzzy.  And the Yoda shirt had writing and his face, both with fine lines.  Even cut as negative space it didn’t work.  I later fixed the Yoda vinyl bleach shirt and posted the design.

Yes that is correct, you use regular vinyl (permanent or removable) to make these shirts because it won’t be staying on the shirt and you do not need to mirror it.  Regular vinyl is sticky and sticks to the shirt but comes off easily.  You just use it as a stencil.
I created a custom setting for vinyl because I was having problems cutting through some vinyl.  It is 200 pressure and cuts 2 times.  These settings cut through any type of vinyl whoever makes it and whatever type.  If you need to know how to change the settings on your cricut, see this post.  


Once the pattern is all cut, you need to weed it.  I have a Cricut Bright Pad.  They are about $48 at amazon.  You need some type of light source to put under the project.  Before I got the Brightpad, I used a LED lamp , a bowl and a piece of glass.  It wasn’t high tech but it worked.  Any light pad will work.  You can find others on Amazon for under $20

 Also you will need a sharp pick.  I have a set from Harbor Freight that cost 2 or 3 dollars.  

People either love weeding or hate it.  You get better at it the more you do so don’t give up and these designs should be easy to weed because they should be bigger pieces.


Putting the vinyl on the vinyl bleach shirt

Once your project is weeded place the transfer tape over the design sticky side down.  Rub it very well to attach the vinyl from the backing to the transfer medium.  Squeegee the transfer tape to the vinyl with a good deal of pressure.  Then pull up the transfer tape slowly.  If pieces don’t stick as you go, replace the transfer tape and squeegee again or rub with your fingernail.  You definitely don’t want to go fast. 

 I have found it helps to turn everything over so that the transfer tape is on the bottom then pull off the backing parallel to the transfer tape.  This is how I transfer it to my regular projects too.  That would be difficult here though.

Once the vinyl is on the transfer tape, place it over your shirt.  When you have it lined up correctly, press the vinyl to your shirt.  Pull off the transfer tape (parallel to your project).  Re-attach anything that doesn’t come off the transfer tape. 

Bleaching the shirt

Once the vinyl is attached, put your barrier between the front and back of the shirt.  I have several mats that I restickyed so many times I wore the lines off.  They worked perfectly.  Make sure the whole design is over the barrier.  You may need two barriers if the design is large.

Make a 50% bleach solution and put it in a spray bottle ( you can eyeball this).  Mist the bleach solution onto the shirt where you want it to be lighter.  Let it sit for about 20 minutes. If it isn’t light enough let it sit 10 minutes more.  Then put the whole shirt in cold water with a cap full of peroxide in it.  This stops the bleaching.  Once it is wet you can take out the barrier and remove the vinyl.

Ring out the shirt and wash it in the washing machine alone (or with other shirts that were bleached if you do more than one) Add soap and another cap full of peroxide.  Then dry in the dryer.

Some Final Thoughts

The cheaper the shirt the better this works.  The Walmart shirts worked great.  The color in the Carhart shirts didn’t fade as well and took more time.

I did all my vinyl bleach shirts together and left them in the cold water until I had them all done then washed them all together.

These project are big.  Clear transfer tape works better.  I tried to use white contact paper and had problems seeing where my design was.

As I said I saw Jennifer Maker do this.  If you want to see her video it is here.

There are links to products on this page where I am an associate and earn a small commission if you buy through these links.  This does not add to your price.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.