Reverse tie-dying
January 7, 2010 12:19 PM   Subscribe

I have a reverse tie-dying question, for lack of a better description.

I want to remove color from a printed shirt, but only where I want it. It doesn't need to be pure white when I finished, just a lot lighter But I also don't want to damage the material either, if possible, like I would with bleach. I need to be able to control it... so no soaking.

Does anyone know of anything I could use to create a paste of sorts, that I could paint onto the shirt, let it sit and do its thing, then rinse off or wash out? That's my vision. Thanks!
posted by Witty to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've seen color remover in the same display as fabric dyes. Worth a try.
posted by Sara Anne at 12:21 PM on January 7, 2010

It depends on the color, but I've actually done exactly this with bleach, and not ruined the clothing. The shirt I'm wearing in this stupid hair picture was once black. You can control where the bleach goes by applying it with a brush. Just don't leave it on for too long and you'll be fine.

What do you mean "printed", though? If it's not a dyed fabric, but instead something like a screen print or an iron-on that you want to remove color from, you're probably out of luck.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:30 PM on January 7, 2010

The stuff you want is called discharge paste.
You can buy it online or at places like Michael's.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 12:30 PM on January 7, 2010

The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew has it. if you want to make your own bleach paste all you need is sodium alginate. any decent art supply store should have it.
posted by phil at 12:42 PM on January 7, 2010

What's the fiber content? If it's 100% cotton, you can use a Clorox Bleach Pen, which contains a thickened chlorine bleach gel, but don't use bleach on anything that contains synthetic fibers. You can prevent damage on cotton by properly neutralizing the bleach afterwards.

Jacquard Discharge Paste is safe for synthetics, but can be a little tricky. You must follow the instructions carefully, or it won't work. Rit Color Remover is safe for synthetics, too, but it requires immersion in very hot water.

Not all shirts will lose color when discharged, depending on exactly what dye was used on them in the first place. Most printed shirts are colored with bleach-resistant pigments, rather than dyes, and are therefore resistant to bleach. All you can do is try.

Here's a page about the different chemicals that can be used to remove dye.
posted by Ery at 12:43 PM on January 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think what you're looking for can be achieved with something called Discharge Paste. A google search will get you lots of online sources, but your larger local craft stores should carry it also.
posted by labwench at 12:43 PM on January 7, 2010

Beeswax and electrical tape will get you this effect if you're applying by hand/brush instead of soaking in a bath of bleaching agent. You will get some "bleeding" at the edges, though. (Which may be what you want.)
posted by Citrus at 1:16 PM on January 7, 2010

we helped a friend make a stack of baby onesies with stencils and a light bleach solution in a spray bottle. we taped the stencils in place, spritzed a little, watched the color fade (not to white, but to [various degrees] a lighter shade than the onesie started), and threw 'em straight into the washer when results were satisfactory. they turned out great.

bleeding is definitely possible, but with the stencil held tightly in place and only a light mist of bleach solution, this was minimized greatly. we were able to get sharp shapes and clean lines (well enough to be able to tell that the Atari joystick was an Atari joystick, button and all, for example).

these were not overly complicated or fussy patterns, mind you, but i think that has more to do with our knife skills than the process.
posted by radiosilents at 2:14 PM on January 7, 2010

Response by poster: Great suggestions folks and very much appreciated. I'll do my best to return to this thread and post details of my results. Thanks!
posted by Witty at 3:27 PM on January 7, 2010

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