Today we are sharing the tutorial (and some helpful tips) for DIY reverse dye sweatshirts! We got the adult and youth Girl Gang sweatshirts from our friends at Wildberry Waves, so we could match with our girls, and then we added some sassy details using reverse tie dye with bleach! Keep reading to learn more!
In our new book, DIY Guide to Tie Dye Style, we walk you through tie dyeing all types of fabrics and teach you how to know what type of dye to use based on what’s on your tag, and this tutorial is just a taste of the types of projects you’ll find inside! This beautiful book includes 20 modern tie dye projects from wearables to home decor, party decor and gifts as well supply lists, dye setting tips, and a variety of guides for achieving all kinds of tie dye methods (Shibori, reverse tie dye, ice dye, and more!)
Reverse dye was one of the first tie dye methods we tried (see our t-shirt tutorial here) because the barrier to entry is so low. You likely have bleach in your laundry room and a cotton t-shirt in your closet and that is all you need to make reverse tie dye magic happen! But, as we keep learning, we’ve found a few hacks for getting even better results with each project. So, to set you up for even more success we’ll share them with you!
Reverse tie dye tips
Reverse tie dye fabrics
For starters, although anything with a high cotton content will change with bleach, a 40% cotton/60% polyester blend is going to give you some the best results because bleach only works on cotton (and it changes the makeup of the cotton fibers and lightens them). However, the combination with the polyester helps to keep the integrity of the shirt so the bleach doesn’t eat away at it. We’ve also found that it can be helpful to use a fabric that has a heather blend because that means the fabric has some white in it which will lighten significantly toward white instead of another color. Lastly, we recommend putting your fabric outside in the sun to set and help pull lighter colors.
Reverse tie dye patterns
Aside from binding fabric with rubber bands like with traditional tie dye, a fun way to get different patterns with reverse dye is using different bottles to apply the bleach. For this tutorial we used a mist bottle, which gives an air brushed effect that is so fun! We also love using spray bottles (for a splatter effect) and squeeze bottles (for a drip effect). You’ll also see variation in pattern if you are applying the bleach to damp fabric versus dry. Combine all of these (binding, scrunching, bottles, and wet/dry), and there is an endless variety of patterns you can achieve!
Supplies needed to make DIY Reverse Dye Sweatshirts
How to make DIY Reverse Dye Sweatshirts
Watch the video, or read the steps below!
Step 1: On a surface safe for applying bleach, scrunch the dry sweatshirt into a mound of fabric.
Step 2: Using your mist bottle, apply the bleach to the areas of the sweatshirt that you would like to lighten. Flip the sweatshirt over and repeat the process on the back of the sweatshirt.
Step 3: If it’s a warmer, sunny day, let your sweatshirt set in the sun until it has reached the desired shade.
Step 4: Put the sweatshirt in cold water to stop the color changing process.
Step 5: Wash and dry sweatshirts separately at least for the first wash.
That’s it! You can TOTALLY do this one. We mean it! Try if first on a shirt or piece of fabric that is a little lower stakes if you need to (until you get the hang of it) and before you know it, you’ll be a master! We can’t wait to see what you create!
ox. Liz and Sam