Do you remember that post I did around Christmas with the awesome T-shirt? Well, my adoring husband bought it for me for Christmas last year. Is he great or what? Winter not typically being T-shirt weather, I needed to do some variety of long sleeve shirt underneath. The problem is, with a shirt THAT cool, you can't just put ANY shirt underneath. Know what I mean? I saw this tutorial via Pinterest and had this "lightbulb moment." First, in case not everyone got the shirt pun right away, the shirt is called "The Sound of Colour" - those colors being CMYK and RGB, hence "see emm why kay are gee bee." (Maybe you have to be a designer to find that funny - or maybe you simply have to be easily amused to find that funny. Regardless, I find it hilarious, but I digress.) So with an ode to that color appreciation in mind, paired with an interest in color process and an awesome tutorial, I proceeded.
I bought a white, long sleeve T-shirt. I got together a collection of permanent markers to represent each of the following colors: cyan, magenta, yellow, black, red, green, and blue. Then, with some rubbing alcohol, a couple droppers, and some old, worn-out white T-shirts graciously donated by my husband (thanks, Sweetie!), I proceeded to test various drawing widths, dropper heights, rubbing alcohol amounts, etc.
Each color bled differently. I assume a lot of that has to do with the marker dye itself, but for some it could just as easily have to do with the age of the marker. This gets complicated doing it on sleeves. Here's how I did it. First, I measured the sleeves and did the math to figure how far apart each line should be. With that figured out, I marked each section with a small piece of clear tape to hold the spot. After everything was all marked, then I pulled the sleeves over a glass bottle to make it easier to see the circumference of the sleeve, if you will. Using those small pieces of tape as a guide, I wrapped clear tape around each section to form a line so I knew where to draw. (The glass bottle also serves the dual-purpose of a drawing surface. Make sure your workspace is well-ventilated as permanent markers and rubbing alcohol both stink.) Next, draw each colored line with the permanent markers, taking note which colors bled more or less in your test runs and vary the widths accordingly.
Now remove all the clear tape. Here's where it gets tricky. Using the dropper and rubbing alcohol, drop the rubbing alcohol over your drawn areas. This will spread the color out in a tie-dye effect. This is tricky because you need a cylindrical base for drawing to get the necessary resistance and you need to keep the sides of the sleeve from touching when the rubbing alcohol is bleeding the color. However, pulling the bottle (or whatever you use) out from the sleeve is difficult because the friction that occurs from pulling the sleeve poses a color transfer risk also. I experimented with removing and cleaning the glass bottle between colors as well as just going for it. There's no perfect way to do this, just proceed with caution.
Hang the shirt up to dry and give the color time to set. I later rinsed the shirt off in the sink to get some excess ink off before washing it in the washing machine, but that may or may not be a necessary step. Additionally, I used a bleach pen to fix a couple spots where a dark color touched a light color. I've never used those laundry "color catchers" before, but I did with this shirt. Maybe I should have thrown the whole box of 'em in - who knows, but the color catcher alone wasn't enough to keep the sleeves from apparently doing that thing that those air dancer things you see in car lots do, with the sleeves hitting the torso of the shirt. Since I'm not going to wear the shirt on it's own, it's not a big deal that there's a faint yellow on the stomach, but it's something to be aware of depending on your design.
Phew! That was an explanation. Hope it made sense. If not, just ask in the comments section.