Batty Bleached Tees

I’ve been intrigued by all the t-shirts I’ve seen with bleached designs on them, and have been plotting what stencil I wanted to use. When my boys mentioned they couldn’t find their Halloween shirts from last year, I was inspired to try bats.  They turned out even better than I had hoped, with the black shirts bleaching to orange…perfect!


Bleaching is a fairly inexact way to “dye” a shirt, so each one will be a bit different.  I just took a deep breath and repeated, “It will be fine” about a thousand times to cope with that. Not that I like control or anything.


To make it, I printed some bat clip art  from Word, traced it on freezer paper, and cut that out.  You could cut your freezer paper to fit your printer and print directly onto it, as well. I punched out a few other small bats with a punch I already had.

When everything is cut out of the freezer paper, iron it waxy side down onto your shirt.

Slide a piece of wax paper inside the shirt, so the bleach doesn’t bleed through to the other side. Unless that’s the look you want, of course.


Fill a small spray bottle with about 1/3 bleach and 2/3 water and spray away.  After I saw how this was bleaching to orange, I decided I wanted it to look like a huge moon behind them, so I cut a big circle out of freezer paper.  Using the part of the paper I cut off (not the circle), I sprayed inside it to make a sharper edge at the bottom of the shirt. I warned you it’s not exact!  It’s art, right?

Lay the shirts somewhere flat to dry.  I put mine on the deck because bleach is a migraine trigger for me.  The things I do for my children.  In fact, I did all the spraying outside, as well.  And I ended up with no migraine, so that’s a good thing!

When the shirts are completely dry, just peel off the freezer paper and be impressed with your artistic self!

Before letting the hooligans wear them, I washed them(the shirts, not the boys) by themselves, with a color catcher and about 1/2 cup vinegar, in cold water.  All the bleach washed out, but didn’t bleach the shirts anymore.  I’ve since washed them with the boys’ regular loads of darks and they did no harm and stayed the same.

If you had a favorite sports team or college, you could easily use their emblem, or any other fun stencil you’d like.  I’d advise nothing too delicate…I tried small snowflakes on a shirt for Princess Thundercloud and they didn’t work. But that success snatched from the jaws of defeat is a post for another day!

I’m linking this up over at Eighteen 25’s Great Halloween Linkup….come over and check out the inspiration!

31 thoughts on “Batty Bleached Tees

    • You can DO it, Kristy! I think the Army makes us control freaks…because we have no control over where we live or what our husbands do, we have to control our house and kids…overly much!

  1. Oh how cool!! I am on my way to yet another craft store,today, to try to find some fall cloth for the pumpkin craft. I will be looking for some black or dark purple T-shirts now, too :)

    • Where are you trying today? Hobby Lobby would be a good bet, for fabric and maybe even the pumpkin jar. And there’s a Starbucks across the street…and a Walmart, if you can’t find a pumpkin jar.

      • Where is hobby Lobby? I found fabric at JO Ann fabrics. It took way too long to get out of there… >:( anywhooo, I found the LAST pumpkin jar at the Wallworld in Germantown. I am soaking the fabric as I type. I want to make sure this sucker has plenty of time to dry, before I have to travel. Oh, back to this craft, what is freezer paper?

        • Hobby Lobby’s in West Bend, off Paradise to the east about 2 blocks. Freezer paper is with the foil and plastic wrap…it’s like wax on one side, butcher paper on the other. If you’re home, I’ll drop some by.

          • Yes, we are home! I would love to have a small sample of freezer paper, thanks :) I will be here all afternoon, attempting to clean, pack and be slightly crafty while Marie skips taking a nap….

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  3. O.K. I just spent a wee bit of time cutting, and ironing the stuff onto my shirts. I just bleached them and I am going to wait 5 minutes to see if I put enough bleach spray on them. I want the black shirts to be orange but not so bleached that they are full of holes 😉 I will let you know how this turns out!

      • Well, the witch one looks kind of cool, because the moon area bleached out to a grey color. So, the pumpkin one isn’t dry yet, but it is also just looking sort of grey versus that cool orange color I was hoping for. Now, my black never-been-to-a-yoga-class pants have some spots of bleach (because of the super windy weather) and those spots are orange. I guess the T-shirts from the craft store are a bit different from the shirts that you bought. I used Jerzees brand T-shirts (they were on sale AND at the craft store so less running around). What kind did you use?

        • Woo HOO!! I bought some black T-shirts from the clearance rack at Walmart and they are bleaching out to a beautiful orange!! The Jerzees brand shirts must have a different dye in them, because they did not turn out the way your shirts did. I will post some pictures as soon as I get them dried, washed and on one of my “models” :)

  4. I love this idea and just tried two black t-shirts and put skulls on them since my husband is a big fan of skulls. I ironed them to the shirt but when I bleached, it must have soaked through the freezer paper since some of the skull area is orange-y now. :( Maybe I sprayed too much bleach onto it but I followed directions. I’ll see how they turn out after washing in vinegar (washing right now). Thanks for your post!

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  7. I am in UK and not sure what freezer paper is, anyone got another idea? Got the tshirts and ready to go once decide how to create bats!

    • Hmmm….freezer paper is a little waxy/plastic-y on one side, so when you iron it on, it sticks, but can be easily peeled off after you spray the bleach. I don’t think just plain waxed paper would work….possibly contact paper? Do you have that in the UK? It’s basically shelf liner with an adhesive side.

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