- I started with two black, 100% cotton tees. If you’re using fiber reactive dyes, it’s important to make sure the garment you’re dyeing is made of natural fibers. You can get away with using something that is mostly made of natural fibers, but the dyes won’t be as vibrant.
- Next, I filled a spray bottle with bleach and sprayed the shirts down (front and back). For some reason, the bleach I bought wasn’t especially potent, and the spots I sprayed never got lighter than a brownish-red color. It’s best to test a hidden spot of your garment with a drop or so of your bleach to see the effect it has. It could be that a solution of bleach and water is strong enough to lighten your garment (and you can always bleach more if need be). I concentrated the bleach spray in a few areas and left a couple spots pretty black for contrast.
- I let the shirts sit for a half hour or so, then ran them through the wash to remove the bleach.
- The shirts went straight from the washing machine into a baking soda solution to prepare them for dyeing. I used four or five different colors, but it’s hard to see much more than the purple and blue. If I’d had more time, I’d have mixed up a stronger solution of each of my other colors and re-dyed the shirts, but as usual, I was down to the wire. Although they didn’t quite match my reference image, the blue and purple gave it enough of a nebula look that I was satisfied.
- After applying the dye and letting the shirts set overnight, I washed and dried them. The last step is to dip an old toothbrush (or any comparable brush) in white silk screen ink (or fabric paint), and flick white specks over the shirts to make stars. I left most of the small specks alone, but I used a q-tip to spread out the ink on the larger stars to create shine lines. After the ink dried, I heat set it and gave the shirts one more wash and dry.
Although they took some time to make, the effect is pretty dramatic. I may have to find myself a pair of black cotton tights so I can wear nebulas on my legs.