UPCYCLING WITH ACID WASH

Upcycling is an amazing way to repurpose items in a creative way. There are endless possibilities to what you can do. 

Using bleach is a great way to revitalize recycled clothing. Joining the upcycling movement is a great way to help save our planet + also get out some of your creative energy!

Here are some tips on how to get started!

Thrift it Up!

The best place to find items to upcycle is a thrift store. Many of these clothes are affordable yet high quality, you might even find some name brand items! You can also use an item of clothing that you love yet feel needs a new life! Make sure to check for holes or wear, especially under the arms + neckline! In my experience this is where the most wear and tear usually shows up. 

Check the Tag!

There is a science to upcycling with acid wash! I love the chance to nerd out a bit so here is why checking the tag is important! Artificial fibers like polyester are built with the color in a protective plastic like sheath. This makes it nearly impossible for the color to be removed. This is awesome for the longevity of the piece, but for upcycling with acid wash it just wont work! With natural fibers like cotton, the color is bound to the cellulose fibers with a reacting agent like soda ash. Because of this it will stay bright with water/soap washing, but add bleach and bam! the color is gone! 

The fabric contents found on the label will be your key! This is usually at the top of the label. To get the widest range of color you will want to find a 100% cotton shirt. This is my recommendation as you will get the most variation in color. If you have something that is 60% cotton 40% artificial fiber (polyester) it will create a visible pattern. The pattern will be more of a light coloring- but still looks cool!  

Dilute!

Diluting the bleach, rather than pouring it directly from bottle is super important. This will help keep the structure of the fabric in tact. Especially when working with 100% cotton, it is important to dilute. 

To dilute your bleach add water. I use a measuring cup and about 1 3/4 cups bleach adding water until it is at 2 3/4 cups (adding 1 cup). 

Let it Process

Allowing enough time for your bleach to process is a great way to control the shading of your acid wash. For a lighter coloring allow the bleach to process for upwards of 15 minuets. If you want something more rust colored just watch it and rinse it out when it is the desired color! 

Allow the bleach to process for a half hour max! Any longer than that and you risk damaging the integrity of the fabric. It may look okay but after a few washes there may be holes where you bleached the fabric. Keep this in mind though, I like to give a few shirts an intentional bleached and distressed look. When doing this I leave the bleach on for upwards of an hour and lightly distress the lightest areas before washing. 

Finishing Touches

After you have thoroughly rinsed your shirt you can wash it in the washing machine. This will remove all excess bleach so make sure to wash it alone! After this you can cut and style your tee however you want! 

BRIGHT TIE DYE ESSENTIALS

Tie dying is such a fun craft to do at home! Have you ever tried tie dying at home and it didn’t end up as bright as you had expected? Worry no more! Here are some of my essentials to create the brightest dyes possible!

1.   Natural Fiber Fabric

Make sure the item you are dying is made of a natural fiber material. The most common natural fibers are cotton, rayon and silk. I have definitely made the mistake of not looking at the type of fabric first and washing out a dye back to stark white.

​Natural fibers include anything that comes from a plant. Some common examples are cotton, linen, hemp, bamboo, ramie + wool. These fabrics have natural fiber molecules that the dyes can bind to. 

You can check what percentages of fabric are in your item on the tag. It should be near the top. Something with 100% natural fiber will give you the richest dye. If it has less than 20% of a non-natural fiber you should be good to use it but the dye will not be as rich. Any more than that and you may end up with a tie dye that bleeds or fades over time.  

2. Soda Ash  ​

Soda ash is essential to the chemistry behind tie dying. Soda ash is non-toxic and eco-friendly. It is commonly used as a water softener and is the base ingredient for baking soda! Because of this it is safe and easy to use, just make sure to wear a mask as inhaling any particles (even non-toxic ones) is not recommended.

Soda ash works as a mild alkali that opens the cellslose fibers in the natural fabric. This is why natural fabric is so important! The dye molecules are then able to go in and bind to the fiber molecules. The cellulose fibers close and the dye molecules are trapped inside. This is what will keep your tie dye looking fresh for years to come!

To Use:
To dye one item about the size of the shirt-
1. Add 1/4 Tbs Soda Ash to 2 Cups Warm Water to a bowl or cup
2. Stir until dissolved (water will turn cloudy)
3. Fold item and allow it to soak 5-10 minuets
**SUPER IMPORTANT: If you let the item sit longer than 10 min it may absorb too much Soda Ash and deter the dye.
4. Wring out item + you’re ready to dye!

To Dye Multiple Items-
If you are having a Tie Dye party and dying more than 2 shirts I recommend using a 5 gal bucket. 
1. Add 1/2 Cup Soda Ash per Gallon Warm Water
2. Stir until dissolved (water will turn cloudy)
3. Fold item and allow it to soak 5-10 minuets
**SUPER IMPORTANT: If you let the item sit longer than 10 min it may absorb too much Soda Ash and deter the dye.
4. Wring out items + you’re ready to dye!

BUY IT HERE from my fav company Dharma Trading Co., or HERE for Amazon!

Tulip One Step Tie Dye Kit’s come pre-loaded with Soda Ash in the dye, so this is also a great product to use! Buy it on Amazon HERE

3.  Fiber Reactive Dyes

Procion dyes are essential to dying. Getting good procion dyes is also key. I have tried several brands of procion dyes and the best are from Dharma Trading Co. and Tulip. These procion dyes will create the bright + everlasting colors you see on professional dyes.  

Procion dyes won’t fade after several washings in hot water. They are also safe for infants as well those with sensitive skin because they don’t come off. These dyes come in powder form and mix easily in water. They are also eco-friendly and non-toxic making them a safe and easy choice. Dharma Trading Co. has a huge range of brilliant colors​ all imported from India. 

I love working with procion dyes for so many reasons. They are easy as well as economical to use. You can create a wide gradient depending on water ratio. I always recomend the ones from Dharma Trading Co. or the Tulip Tie Dye Kits!  

DIY SHIBORI

Shibori dyed items are all the rage right now. From clothing to home decor, you can shibori dye almost anything. It’s a super fun project to do at home and is something I love doing for my shop. I am really intrigued by the history of Shibori dying as it has been around for thousands of years and is one of the oldest ways to create textile design. It is breathtaking what skilled traditional shibori artists can do. I’ll write a post on that later! For now, you can enjoy this detailed guide on how to create with shibori at home


SUMMARY

Supplies: Jaquard Shibori Tie Dye Kit, 5 Gal Bucket, Stir Stick, Cooling Rack, Baking Sheet, Gloves, Items to dye
Prep: 4Gal water in bucket, Jaquard Kit in bucket, Stir, Wait 10 min while you tie your damp items.
Dying: Squeeze item and submerge fully in vat, Massage + move the item in the vat for several minuets.
Oxidization + Rinse: Carefully set item on baking rack, Let sit for 10 min flip sit for 10 more min or until dark blue, Rinse in water going from cold to hot until water runs clear, Wash with detergent + dry
Enjoy!!

SUPPLIES

You will need items with natural fibers to dye. It can get a little tricky classifying what fibers will accept the dye well so I would just stick with anything that is at least 60% cotton and contrasting with blue! You could use a pink or white shirt- whatever you’re feelin’! The more cotton, the better it will dye, so ideally use something that is 100% cotton. If you are wanting to dye yarn just make sure it is wool and you are good!

You will also need a Jaquard Shibori Tie Dye Kit which you can buy on Amazon though this link HERE. This will be enough to do a bunch of stuff so you may want to collect a few items to dye. It has everything you need in terms of dye and comes with detailed instructions. This kit is the best and takes all the measuring out of creating a vat. If you want to do small batches more often you can check out a later post on small vat dying!

​You will also need a 5 gallon bucket and stick. I would get one at HomeDepot. They are super cheap there, make sure to stop by the paint station for a few stir sticks as those are also very necessary! I forgot to pick these up last time I was there and have run out resulting in me using a literal stick from the yard haha. Really you just need something to stir with. Keep in mind that there are chemicals in the shibori vat, so if you use something from the kitchen you wont want to use it for food prep later. If you are trying to do a more low key batch of shibori you can use a gallon sized pitcher. Just make sure never to use it for punch or water later!

​Lastly, you will need a cooling rack. You will use this to let the item oxidize in the air with the dye. You can place saran wrap on a cookie sheet and place the cooling rack on that. That way when it drips it will be caught in the tray, yet the dye will avoid your cookie sheet. You may want to purchase or repurpose items from your kitchen here!
Once you have these three things you are all set to get your vat going!

STEP 1: Prep

Set the items you want to dye in a small bowl of warm water. This will help you tie the design later as well as open and relax the cotton fibers for the dye. While these are soaking you can set up the vat.
If you are using the entire Jacquard Kit, this part is fairly easy. There are super easy to follow instructions included with the kit. Fill the 5gal bucket with 4gal of water and add the contents of the kit. Stir with your stir stick. Close the lid and let it sit for 10 min. While the vat is processing you can tie your items.
Fully wring out the items you are working with. You can set them for a quick spin cycle in your washer or wring them out by hand. You can also throw them in your salad spinner to spin out excess water. Once they are damp and not wet, you can tie them. Use the suggestions from the kit or simply crumple up the fabric and bind it. This is my favorite pattern and the one you see on clothing most often. I also love the folding pattern where you just accordion fold your item one way and then the other. Bind your item tighter to create more white space. If you want more blue and less white use your rubber bands to create a loser bind. Once you have your items tied up you are ready to dye them!

DYING, OXIDATION + RINSING

Open your vat and use your stir stick to move the blue film aside. Squeeze all the air out your item and submerge it releasing slowing as you go. Massage and stir the item in the dye for several minuets. If you want a darker dye you are going to want to do this for closer to 5 minuets. If you want a lighter dye remove after around 3 minuets. Depending on the fabric, you may even want to do 5 minuets a couple times! One you feel your item has been dyed well enough you can place it on the cooling rack over the baking sheet.

This is where the magic happens! You can watch the magical transformation from the greenish hue to a vibrant and deep blue. I love watching items oxidize, it happens fairly quick so watch out. You want to let your item sit for around 10 mins before you flip it to sit for another 10 mins. This makes sure that all the areas with dye, even deep within your binds, will have time to oxidize. Once you rinse and unbind your item you will not be able to re-dye it with the same pattern. Double check to make sure it is a bit darker than the shade you are going for. Rinse in the sink going from cold to warm/hot water while it is bound until the water runs clear. Untie your item and gleam in the beautiful thing you just created! Finish rinsing your item and throw it in the wash with some detergent. You can dry your item in the washer or save on your projects carbon footprint by hanging to dry!

STARTING AN ETSY SHOP

I am a believer that if you want to create for a living you can do it! It won’t happen over night, but if you stick with it you will find yourself living the dream you never thought you would! It takes hard work, but us creatives are never afraid to roll up our sleeves. If you have a creative talent that is piling up in your life like my piles of tie dye and no more room in your closet…then its probably time for you to start an Etsy shop!

JUST START

I am a text book over thinker. So many blogs will give you long lists of things to do like finding your niche etc. This can be daunting and trying to figure everything out at once can lead to nothing happening at all. It’s hard to get the ball rolling. But thankfully you can get this ball going while sitting on your bed watching TV!

Log on to Etsy.com, create an account if you don’t already have one- use your personal email, don’t even make a “business email yet!”, and click the big start selling button at the top! You have to connect your credit card but lets be real  its saved in your google for easy online shopping haha.  You will also need to pick a name for your shop. I suggest doing this while you set up your shop because SO MANY NAMES ARE TAKEN. It can be invigorating, but stick at it you will find an awesome one! Sometimes it takes time, you can always change your name- however it will hinder your growth!

PICK A SOLID NAME

To pick a name for your shop get Etsy.com up on your one tab, GoDaddy on another and Instagram on your phone. Check that your name is available across all platforms. GoDaddy will allow you to search for the domain. You want your name to be original and short so its easy to type and remember. Consider using your name in. Customers connect to the personality of this and it is also usually available with a word describing your creations attached.  ​

I suggest that once you find something you like, just stick with it!! This can really help grow your audience. Your customers will know where to return to in order to shop again. This is something I really struggled with in creating Desert Dyes. I have had several different names for the business and overall I think it has only hindered our growth and wasted time. If you find something you like and are ready to go run it past a few friends or family members, stick with it and don’t revisit it again. People don’t really care that much about your name if your creations are cool! So just stay more focused on creating amazing products and showing them successfully on Etsy. 

TAKE SOLID PICTURES

Whatever it is you have made you need to take stunning photos of it to showcase it to the world. Imagine every picture as part of a store front window. You want them to work together well and to have been taken in the same lighting.

To take stunning product pics you can use your iPhone. Unless you are willing to shell out for an entire photo set up (lighting, backdrop, camera + editing software) I would stick with the iPhone. There are really easy to use free apps to edit pics, and you can drop box or airdrop them easily to your computer.

Use a foam board as the backdrop. You can get two and set them up to from a floor and background. Make sure to use the thick foam ones, not the paper poster board. It will create the best white backdrop possible! Set this up midday in the shade outside or near a window inside. I find that outside is the best place get good product photos, but if that is inaccessible near a window out of direct light can create the same effect. Take a bunch of photos from various angles. You can sort through them and edit them on your phone later. 

I recommend using all of the adobe apps for editing your photos. It make take a little time to get to know the apps, I still cant remember whats what but they work great and have easy to use select tools. I also find that VSCO works wonders if you are just cropping and light editing. Go easy on your first product photos and know they will get better with time! 

STICK WITH IT

So much of your Etsy shop will happen organically. I am a believer that you cant really find your niche, you just find your self in it one day. You might open your shop with 5 listings but keep working at it! Add a listing every day or so if you can and within a few weeks you could have upwards of 20 which is plenty to start getting sales. One of my shops has never had more than 14 items on it and continues to grow. Don’t worry if you are just starting out, if your creations are cool and your photos are decent people will be interested! 

Freak things happen + you are just learning to run a business, people are not always understanding of this.  People can be mean and when you are selling things you created it is easy to take it to heart. Don’t let anyone or any situation discourage you from starting and keeping your shop up! Who knows maybe you’ll be the next one to make it big!

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.