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!
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.
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!