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Experiential Experimentation

September 4, 2010
Curiosity gets me once in a while. Just like today. I wondered, what happens when you take a perfectly lovely piece of fabric and introduce it to a bucket of bleach? I’ve been reading a lot about Bleach Discharge lately, and wanted to try it myself. I remember as a kid using bleach to tye-dye my t-shirts, but didn’t want that look for my quilt fabric. At least not this time.

So I got out the bleach and experimented with some sample fabrics. Here’s what happened –

Then I decided to try creating some blocks from the fabrics – you can see that the fabrics work together, but how do they look when cut up and sewn back together?

I wasn’t particularly impressed with the green fabric, but the purple fabric works quite nicely combined with the new colour!

Want to try this yourself? It’s quite easy. Here’s what you need:


rubber kitchen gloves
large, shallow metal or glass bowl
2 litres hot water
500 ml (2 cups) bleach
metal spoon
small pieces of fabric for bleaching

Warning! Wear old clothes so if you splash bleach on yourself, you won’t be too upset 🙂

Put on the gloves so the bleach will not harm your skin. Mix hot water and bleach in bowl, then place fabric in mixture. Leave fabric in bleach mixture for 5-10 minutes, depending on the amount of bleaching you would like to occur. ‘Stir’ gently so  fabric bleaches evenly.

Remove fabric from bleach, rinse thoroughly and put through a regular washing machine cycle to completely remove bleach.

You may need to experiment yourself a little, as every fabric bleaches out at a different rate.

Smaller pieces of fabric are best for this project, as you want the fabric to move freely in the bleach so the liquid is distributed evenly. However, if you plan to do larger amounts of fabric, ensure you have a large enough bucket or bowl, and plenty of water. The ratio of bleach to hot water is 250ml to 1 litre.

Enjoy! ~ Heather

6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 4, 2010 3:05 pm

    Heather, this would work well when you have some fabric that you would like to use, but want it to be a little bit lighter. Also expands your fabric stash – bleach a bit of the fabric and leave some original, like you did.

  2. September 8, 2010 2:17 am

    I love how the purple one goes together, the green turned too yellow.
    I guess that is something to considering when trying it, what shade will it produce.


  3. September 8, 2010 5:17 am

    See, and I like the green one better!

  4. September 11, 2010 6:31 am

    Oh yeah – I love the greens! What a great idea to put the bleach & unbleached together!

  5. Dahn permalink
    September 19, 2010 2:28 pm

    As an obsessed dyer of fabric, just wanted to add a note here–you must stop the chemical reaction to bleach and washing it doesn’t do that by itself. The fabric becomes weak and will shred after washing sometime in the future.

    A great, cheap way to stop the bleach reaction is with Anti Chlor–used in fishtanks and available everywhere for 2 or 3 bucks. Use 1/2 teasoon. Another choice is peroxide (the 3% kind) and use about 1/2 the bottle.

    To use, add the required stop bleach method to 2-4 litres water, and let soak for 5 minutes. Do not EVER use vinegar to stop the bleach process.

    Oh yah–and only use natural fibers like cotton fabric or silk fabric. Polyester, rayon, etc because it totally damages the threads and you cant stop the process.

    PS– love reading this blog and now there is a Canadian magazine?! I will definately be subscribing. Congrats on that!!!!

    • Heather permalink*
      September 23, 2010 1:29 am

      Thanks for that tip, Dahn!

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