Ice dyeing with bleach. Who knew?! The idea occurred to me after stumbling upon a bottle of bleach crystals a few weeks ago. Again, who knew that such a thing existed and for what use I wondered?! I had been wanting to DIY an acid-wash effect sweatshirt and bleach crystals ended up being the perfect agent to help me achieve that marbled tie-dye effect. I should preface this tutorial by saying that it not a fool-proof method. I can't guarantee you'll get the same outcome as me for one reason: all sweatshirts are not created equal - even by the same manufacturer! My best advice is to test a tiny part of the fabric before going all in. I would recommend dipping a Q-tip into liquid bleach and spot testing a tiny part of inside of the cuff or hem. See what color you end up with after lifting the original color. If you like it, go for it!
I recommend doing this over a sink in a room with good airflow. You're not actually using that much bleach so the fumes aren't that bad. Just be sure you can leave it where it is for at least 10-12 hours, preferably with a window cracked! I like to put down a cooling rack so the water/bleach can drain and not pool underneath the sweatshirt. You can also crumple up some foil instead. Unlike dyeing with dyes, you should start with a dry sweatshirt. I found that starting with a wet sweatshirt made the bleach bleed too much without giving it enough contrast and definition. Lay the sweatshirt over the rack or foil - twist it and crumple it up. You can even twist it up in rubber bands. Just don't leave it flat!
Cover the sweatshirt with a layer of ice. I prefer the larger cubes because they melt slower, letting the colors lift slower and create more marbling. You want enough ice to not be able to see the fabric through it.
Shake the bleach crystals onto the ice. And like ice dyeing, you want to deposit bleach only in a few areas in order to get nice contrast. The more bleach you pour over, the more color will be lifted. I would say at most, I put about 1 heaping tablespoon in one area at a time and at the very least, I applied a very light sprinkling in areas in between. Regardless, you should definitely have some areas without any bleach at all! Remember, you can always go back and add more. And now, you just let the magic happen . . .
After about 5-6 hours, most of the ice will have melted. I will admit that at first, I was disappointed with the colors. The bleached areas looked more brown than I was hoping. But after letting it cure and sit for a few more hours, more of the color was lifted. If you like the color as it is, then at this point you can just rinse it with water and wash it alone in the washing machine. If you want it to lighten up a bit more, let it sit for as long as you can before washing.
**If the bleach hasn't bleed through the back, you can turn it over and repeat the process on the backside.
And this is the result! In the lower right photo, you'll see a lighter sweatshirt. This was my first attempt where not only was I a little heavy handed with the bleach, I had started the process with a wet sweatshirt. Less is more, friends!
images and tutorial by HonestlyWTF