Summer fun {custom bleached shirt}

Thanks for all the comments on my trip to Seattle and odd way of entertaining myself in the airport. For those wondering the SkyBridge we were on was a more remote one that only led to a few gates. For that reason it was basically empty unless a plane landed. I sat my camera on the ground – with no one around. I did also sit it on the SkyWalk. Those things are meant to speed you up when you are walking. If you are standing still they move rather slowly so I had plenty of time to take timer pictures without reaching the end.

Here’s another outdoor summer activity.


My disclaimer: This requires very attentive adult supervision and responsible kids that are obedient and good listeners.



Water Guns

Water bottle that can do a light mist spray

Solid color t-shirt (I got mine at Hobby Lobby when they were 50% off…costing me $1.50 each. Score.)

Freezer paper

Rubber gloves (for you and the kids)

Using freezer paper cut out your letter or design. Iron the paper securely onto the shirts. Hang the shirts outside with a piece of cardboard on the inside.

Put on rubber gloves. Fill the water bottle and water guns with bleach. Using the fine mist setting on the water bottle spray around the letter. Then let the kids use the water guns to squirt more bleach randomly on the shirt front and back. This is where the adult supervision is crucial…you don’t want them shooting the gun at anything but the shirts. In the sun it doesn’t take long (just a minute or two) for the bleach to start changing the shirt color. Once it is as light as you want, rinse the shirt…then wash it. You can buy chemicals that further stop the bleaching process, but they cost more than your $1.50 shirt. You don’t want to leave the bleach on too long or it will begin eating the shirt. My friend tried this with a hot pink shirt and it came out super cute.

He should be wearing a rubber glove…the cheap water guns leak a little.

It is Big Brother’s current favorite shirt. It reminds me of the 80s, but 80s is back in style – right? If you notice on the “h” I didn’t get the freezer paper ironed on securely enough. I kind of like the effect it made. The brown parts of the shirt had the bleach on the least amount of time, the gray parts the longest. (yes he got a haircut in between the day we bleached the shirts and the day I took these pics)

Biggest Brother was hanging around when I was trying to get a picture of the shirt. He decided to try to leap over the cooler. Can you guess how that ended up for him?

And after all that fun of making your own shirt, you can curl up on the couch with your legos…snuggling Luke Skywalker & his lightsaber…for a summer nap.

In other news…next week I am going to be a part of the Blogger’s Guide to Summer at Blessed Little Nest. There will be several posts each day and giveaways each day. Some of my very favorite bloggers will be guest posting during the week too…be sure to check it out….just don’t enter any of the giveaways I would kind of like to win them all!


It has been a while since I posted any diy projects…next week I will be posting one….

UPDATE 6.16.10: My friend Jamie emailed me the day I originally posted this. The night before I posted this, she had done a similar thing to a onesie for a gift. It is so cute! I asked her if I could share it with you! Thanks Jamie!

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  • Jeannette Swan - Another great idea!

  • meg duerksen - i wanted to do this this summer too.
    or tye dye with spray bottles instead of the usual stuff.
    we will see what i get accomplished.

    and how have i never done freezer paper?! what is the matter with me!

  • Kelly - I love freezer paper and my boys love helping make their own shirts! I’m adding this to the endless summer to-do’s for sure! I often notice your boys are wearing the same clothes that are in my boys closets…you must frequent Target.:) I noticed the awesome multi-colored Chewie shirt today. My middle boy has that one and for some reason it makes me laugh every single time he wears it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Amy - I made these using contact paper for my daughter’s sleep over. I put a peace sign on the back of the shirt and they were adorable. Thanks for all your awesome ideas..

  • Anna Joy - this is soooo awesome! im making one this weekend!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Carla - the shirt turned out so cute! i think 25 year olds could still wear shirts like this… so maybe i have an activity for my husband and i this weekend. maybe even a cute doggie one.

    love all of your ideas. and especially your photography tips. i’m find new angles every day because of you!

  • Sara - I love this idea! I am wondering if Hydrogen Peroxide would work as a safer alternative to the bleach? I use it in my laundry for whites to brighten them. Anyone know if it would be worth a shot?

  • ellen - I love this one so very, very much. Look at how excited Big Brother is to wear it. The joy on his little, scrunched face is too much. This is going on my must copy list!

  • chantelle - ok, you are now officially the coolest mom I know/in the world. I am now runningout to buy shirts and water guns and bleach. wow are you cool.

  • Kaylene - these look wonderful. It’s summer so my man cub is looking for “projects”. We just finished finger printing w/ ed emberley’s book. looking forward to doing these.

  • gardenmama - How cute!!
    Your photos are beautiful, what sweet little ones : )

  • Balancing Everything » Bleached monograms - […] wonder if we could pull this off, the result is great! ← Eric […]

  • Alison - I LOVE LOVE LOVE that idea and am definitely going to have to try it with my kids. So happy to have found your fabulous blog!

  • giozi - I love it. I’m going to try it on pink ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Os Tartarouchos - Oh, my! this is a great idea!! And the results are so cool!
    Love your blog, and your photos!

  • Casey - I love this!! definitely going to try this on a shirt for my guy

  • Ez - Oh my word! What a fantastic DIY idea! I love it. And the applications for your technique could be applied to so many things (dinner napkins, throw pillow covers, etc). Thanks for the inspiration! xo Ez

  • tara - I tried this on a t shit but couldn’t keep the bleach from soaking through where I had the letters ironed on… any tips?

  • Brinn - LOVE this and love your blog! Thanks so much for sharing your creativity. I made a halloween version if you want to check it out:

  • Heather - I LOVE bleaching shirts ๐Ÿ™‚ Actually, after the bleaching process, I’ll throw the garment in the washing machine on the rinse cycle with about a cup of plain white vinegar. Vinegar (super cheap!) neutralizes bleach. Once your level of “bleachiness” is achieved – throw it in the vinegar water solution and the bleach will not continue to eat away at the fibers – you can wash it over and over again normally and not have to worry about holes!

  • Ashley - i just did this today with my three boys…we did their initials on three shirts, and then did some halloween themed ones. it worked great…thanks for the excellent idea!

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  • Cricket Whitman - Thanks so much for this great idea. We made our own as well! You so totally rock at everything!

  • Kristal - Awesome idea!! Hydrogen Peroxide stops the bleach chemical reaction and it’s cheap. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Joanna - I tried this(too rushed I admit) yesterday and I basically completely screwed up a simple thing! I guess I must not have gotten the freezer paper on well enough because only the top part of the A came out. Secondly it’s brown =( not white. Too much bleach?? The bottle I got (because I couldn’t find my old one that I knew did fine spray) puts out quite a lot. Help?

  • Custom Bleached T-shirt | You Frill Me - […] he was here in SF.ย  So to celebrate the day, I wore this custom-bleached tee, which I made using Ashley Ann’s amazing freezer paper stencil idea, which I originally saw on her blog, but was reminded of it in an issue of Fresh Style magazine.ย  […]

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  • nana - As a grandmother I am afraid of the bleach for little ones … too dangerous maybe bleach pen but even that is just poison for kiddos and the earth !!! IT LOOKS CUTE and sweet to.spend time together but you really must know a tiny accident could be devistating with chemicals. It also would give the impression it is alright to touch bleach at another time . I hate to be ugly but I do know acidents that have happened and an adult that burned their lungs breathing bleach and caused pneumonia. Thanks for reading and so sorry to sound rude !!

  • Christine Hutchings - Does she sell these? I would definitely buy them ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • Becca - I tried this, but the bleach only turned the black material orange, not white…anything I should have done differently?

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  • design your own t-shirt - Wonderful stuff. Bundle of thanks!!!

  • Custom Tee Shirts - USABeading - Fantastic blog, Thanks for sharing. Keep posting like this.

  • Clarissa - Hi! I like the way your shirts turned out. They’re real neat. I love the onesies too! What a cute idea. I’m interested in doing the same type of thing, only I can’t use bleach or have it used on my clothes. Is there a way of doing the same thing using hydrogen peroxide?

    Thank you!

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  • Bรกrรณ Jรบlia - Fun! It is great to create something by playing a game like this ๐Ÿ™‚