Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ready to Discharge

Yesterday, I had a minute, and took a shirt I had been planning to play with and tied it up. I don't keep on hand a lot of dyeing materials, so I tend to prefer discharge techniques. This shirt is ready to go! I accordian pleated it side to side, then tied it tightly with string. Next stop: the bleach bucket!

Easy bleach dip discharge recipe:
There are many ways nowadays to discharge, but this method is easy, inexpensive, and utilizes what I always have on hand.

1) In your laundry area, prepare two large buckets or trays (such as the ones used for kitty litter); use a try if you want to lay your fabric flat. Your buckets or trays should be used for this purpose only, for safety reasons. You will also need an old wooden spoon and an old pair of tongs.
2) In one bucket: 1 part household bleach to 4 parts water. Use as much water as you will need to cover your fabric, then stir the bleach in carefully. I use an old wooden spoon for stirring, and do not use it for any other purpose.
3) In the other bucket: 1 part vinegar to 1 part water; your fabric will be wet when it goes in here, so you won't need as much water as you used for the first bucket.

Ready? You can wet your fabric before (or after) tying it for discharge, or you can use it dry for a slightly crisper result. When you are ready to go, place your fabric in the bleach solution and press it down into the bucket or tray with your old wooden spoon. Let the bleach work for maybe two
minutes. It doesn't take long. I then pour the whole concoction down the utility drain flushing with hot water. Avoid splashes.

Using the tongs, immediately place the rinsed fabric and place it in the second (vinegar) bucket. Soak for 5 or 10 minutes, then wash thoroughly.

You can also use bleach in a spray bottle, which you can mist directly onto your tied fabric, or around stencils placed on flat fabric. Use 1 part bleach to 1 part water for bottle spraying, and work outside to avoid breathing the spray mist, and to avoid spraying bleach all over the place. Rinse the same way to finish.

I'll post a picture later, when I have finished. Talk to you then!


  1. Hi, Gayle. Happened upon your blog while surfing the net a bit. Really like your textile work/play. I'm taking the time to go over all your posts backwards to the beginning while I hand stitch, very enjoyable. I've been resisting dyeing, but your instructions for bleach have got me thinking--very tempting! Thanks so much.
    best from Tunisia,

  2. It really is easy and fun, and, as you probably know, the way to "tie" it creates the pattern. You can use buttons and rubber bands, rubber bands alone, dental floss (that's expensive!), clips of all kinds. You can use thread to sew gathering patterns in place, and on and on. Would love to see your pix if you try it.
    Nadia, I am so happy to hear you have been reading all the way from Tunisia. How exciting : )

  3. So you're basically lifting the color using bleach? That might work with stamps - if you use a foam or sponge sort of stamp - you would need something that holds enough of the bleach solution to allow it to transfer and soak into the fabric. That could be a fun experiment :)

  4. Yes, lifting the color out. The fun thing is, you never know what colors will appear underneath, since various dyes are used to make darker colors. And yes, it definitely works with stamps (better than sponges). Either use a discharge thickener, or a bleach pen, which is pre-thickened, make a stamp pad with it, and off you go.