Making your own fabric designs is such a fun way to personalize any of your textile projects. I tried hand painting curtains for a dalmation-esque spotted effect last year, but to be honest, it took so much time that I wasn't too keen to try something like that again. Stamping, printing, and dying fabric are other alternatives for DIY fabric designs, but what about bleach? I thought I'd try a more bohemian speckled effect for a recent reupholstery project, and you guys, it was so much fun and so easy!
Tip: Wear old clothes that can get ruined with bleach splashes without breaking your heart. You shouldn't need gloves because your hands shouldn't get bleach on them, but if you're worried about that, go ahead and wear gloves.
Soak your brush in a small basin of concentrated bleach. Before dropping the bleach onto your fabric, make sure the brush isn't dripping too profusely with bleach. You don't want to get drip lines, like you can see on the top left corner of my fabric. The bleach shouldn't drip off the brush until you have it in place over the fabric.
Techniques for dripping the bleach: You should have enough bleach on your brush that it will drip, but not until you hold the brush still. Move the brush into place above the fabric and just hold it, directing the bleach down to the angled tip of your brush. The bleach will drop off and onto your fabric.
The longer you let the bleach drip in one spot, the larger the mark left by the bleach will be. Once the bleach stops dripping easily, You can shake the brush (in a vertical, not diagonal motion) to create smaller splatters on the fabric. Then soak the brush again, make sure it's not dripping too much, then keep adding more spots.
The bleached effect will appear pretty quickly after the liquid hits the fabric, which makes it easy to envision your design as you make your way across the fabric.
Wash the fabric. Allow the bleach to sit on the fabric long enough for all of the spots to be uniform in color, but don't let the bleach sit any longer than that or it will destroy the integrity of the fibers. I ran my fabric through a cold rinse cycle before putting it through a regular wash cycle with laundry detergent. Don't wash it with other linens, which may cause any residual bleach to ruin other items in the washing machine.
I used my fabric to reupholster this DIY stool I made over a year ago. I was ready for a change, and had to fix the legs that were coming off because back then I didn't realize you needed mounting plates to keep the legs on the wood! That's a bit embarrassing to admit, but there ya have it.
I love my new and improved foot stool, and have enough fabric leftover that I might make a tote or something too! What craft would you make with your own bleach-spotted fabric? –Mandi
Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Stella and Valentine from the Signature Collection.