How-To: Bleach Discharged Velvet Bag, Part 1

Bleach Discharged Velvet

For an easy and effective do-it-yourself vintage technique, there’s nothing quite like bleach-discharged velvet. In addition to removing dye and giving your fabric a lovely, time-worn look, the bleach also changes the texture of the fabric, and it will feel soft and well-loved.  Although you can bleach-discharge any color of velvet, I find that I like the results best when I use black velvet with a high rayon content.  Your finished piece will vary depending on the combination of dyes used by the manufacturer to make it black.  In the example above,  the bleach left behind a beautiful golden color, but it’s possible that your fabric may have a slightly more red or green cast when it is finished.

Before bleach-discharging your velvet, you will need to decide whether or not you want your finished piece to be patterned.  For example, you might want to tightly fold the piece to achieve a linear effect with the bleach, or you may decide to loosely scrunch it, as I did, for a softer, mottled look.  I suggest experimenting with a few smaller pieces to see what you like.  In any case, you shouldn’t expect your pattern to be sharply defined unless you are using a resist to prevent the bleach solution from spreading across the fabric.

For excellent instructions on various ways to bleach-discharge your fabric, go to this article by Lois Ericson, from the pages of Threads magazine.  Lois also tells you where to purchase bleach-neutralizing chemicals, which are an essential ingredient, along with bleach and water.  I highly recommend following Lois’ suggestion to wear gloves.  It’s also best to do this outdoors, if at all possible.

Tomorrow, I’ll post a photo of my finished bag, along with some basic construction information and lessons learned the hard way.