printing fabric with bleach for stitched mushrooms

The quest for the perfect organic dot fabric for toadstools is never ending, I’m always on the look out for fungal feeling dots, speckles and marks in general and I’m super particular. Shopping in LA a few weeks ago there was lots of nice batik stuff that was close but no cigar. I described my dream fabric to my friend Molly and she said “dude you could totally make that”. That is such a good attitude. Yesterday I experimented a little. And dude, I can totally make that, so can you.

making marks on cotton fabric with bleach

Gather some cotton fabric, bleach, wax paper and tools for mark making. I tried all sorts of things, rubber stamps, pallet knives, brushes, straws, cardboard, spools, on and on. Also put on an apron and some gloves and do this somewhere very well ventilated or outside.

marking with bleach on fabric using a pencil eraser

I had one little dish of straight up bleach (you just need a little) and another diluted about 2 parts bleach to one part water. I put wax paper under the fabric and started making marks. My favorite tools ended up being a pencil eraser, putty knife, a stiff bristle brush, a toothbrush for splattering and a little spool that I glued a piece of wool felt to one end of. A cork would have been good too – just thought of it.

spool with wool felt glued to one end for bleach printing

cotton fabrics printed with bleach for making fabric toadstools

The marks take a moment to begin to “develop”. I let most of the fabric sit for about 20 minutes before rinsing. I have googled/pinterested around and there are all sorts of interesting things you can do with this technique and you can get pretty fancy about it. Find a great tutorial here and another here. 

toadstools made from fabric

toadstools made from fabric, brown and red with spots

little mushroom sewing pattern


find the mushroom sewing pattern here

I love how they turned out, the bleach prints are so perfect for little fungi and there are endless things you could experiment with to make marks.



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  1. I love how your friend said you could do this… and you did !!!!!

  2. Janet Brani

    Love it . . . And I think tea dying after the bleaching would be another experiment!

  3. Kim Shepherd

    Lovely. So much closer to nature because you made the marks yourself. Great idea, well done you and your friend!

  4. Making your own designs on fabric is brillant! We can experiment and show off our creativity and share with others. Plus all our projects are unique little works of art. Thanks for sharing Ann!

  5. Sonia Simpson

    You need devore fabric
    It’s a velvet burn out material
    You paint the burn out past in the design you want. Dye the fabric first
    I worked for an artist that used this technique it’s very tactile and beautiful

  6. carolynlphillips

    Such a great idea, an unlimited supply of polka dots!!

  7. Sheila Rideout

    Just a note. If you want to stop the deteriorating action of bleach, you can put the fabric into a dechlorination solution (from the pet store for aquariums). Also discharge paste will remove color (and it doesn’t necessarily take the base fabric to white – it depends on the fabric. It is stinky though.

  8. Jackie P Neal

    dude! those fabrics are totally realistic- great job! I love your toadstools!

  9. Majena Mafe

    lemon juice works very well and doesn’t wreck the fabric

  10. Sharon Stanley

    Love these fabrics so much! They are perfect for your projects!

  11. Aida Sheets

    Ann, you should try using a thickened bleach product like dishwashing gel with bleach, or Softscrub with bleach. You can also thicken the bleach yourself. You don’t get as much seepage that way, unless that is really the look you are going for.

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