DIY Dyed and Bleached Drawstring Bags

I have been itching to do some bleach dyeing for a while now, but I haven’t had the right base for a good project.  When I found some plain cotton drawstring bags while I was out thrift shopping, I decided they would be test subjects for my first bleach experiment.  Before I could take the color out of the bags, I needed to add color first.  I armed myself with tie-dye and a spray bottle of bleach and got to work making these bleached & dyed drawstring bags.



Small canvas drawstring bags

I found these small cotton drawstring bags at Goodwill, but you can find them online or at your local craft supply store.  You want to be sure that they are mostly cotton, however, because synthetic fabrics don’t take dye as well.  If you are a conscientious crafter, you will also wash them to remove any sizing that might be on the fabric.  I did not.

Tulip tie dye

Because I wanted each of the five bags to be a different color, I decided to use Tulip Tie Dye rather than Rit dye.  If you are going to make your bags all the same color, I would suggest using Rit and dyeing them all in one big bucket.  I love how easy it is to mix up the dye from the Tulip kits, and how little mess it creates.  I used this same product on my daughter’s watercolor curtains, her dip dyed tablecloth, and my batik tote bag.

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Put bag in bucket

I used a small bucket or food container for each of the colors.  It’s best if the bag lies flat at the bottom of the bucket, so the dye can reach all of the cloth evenly.

Add dye

After I doused the bag with dye, I swirled it around with a plastic spoon to make sure I hadn’t missed any spots.

Buckets of dyeing cloth

I repeated the process with the other four bags.  I used magenta, blue, and teal dyes straight for three of the bags.  Then I mixed the magenta and blue to make purple and all three colors to make a dark blue.  Since I mixed the colors right in with the bag, the bags ended up with a mottled color appearance.  If I had been smart enough to mix the colors before putting the bags in, the color would have been evener.

Dyed Canvas Bags

After letting the bags sit in the dye overnight, I rinsed the dye out of each bag and let them dry.  After the bags were dry to the touch, I cut pieces of freezer paper to fit inside each bag.  Then I ironed the bags so the waxy side of the freezer paper attached to the inside of the bags.  Not only does the paper make a barrier so the bleach doesn’t bleed through the whole bag, but it gives the bag some structure so it lies flat.



Apply stencil

For my first bleach experiment, I busted out a polka dot stencil.  I love this stencil; it’s the same one I used for my polka dot glitter clutch.  I laid it out on the bag and then taped it in place with painter’s tape.  Finally, I made sure to cover the exposed bag with tape so I didn’t get bleach everywhere.

Spray with bleach

I sprayed straight bleach over the stencil, blotted it with a paper towel, and removed the stencil.  This is what the bag looked like right after spraying it with bleach.  The polka dots became even more pronounced as the bleach worked its magic.

Bleached Polka Dots

I tried the same stencil again with a lighter hand on the magenta bag.

Bleach stenciling on cloth

I tried a repeating citrus stencil on the dark blue bag.     You can’t expect the stencils to come out perfectly crisp and clear, so it is better to use a stencil without a lot of detail.
 Reverse bleach stencil

For the purple bag, I used a heart shape to make a reverse stencil.  I just laid the heart on the bag and gave the bag a few spritzes of bleach. 

Bleached zebra stripes

Next, I used a stencil to create these zebra stripes.  I masked off one section of the bag, stenciled with bleach, then replaced the stencil, re-masked the bag and stenciled again.

Dyed and Bleached Bags

You could add some embellishment like rhinestones or embroidery or you could leave them as they are!  I think these bags would be cute gift wrap for party favors or handmade jewelry, don’t you? 


You might like these other DIYs:

Totes Adorbs: Tie Dye and Crayon Batik Bag






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