Lots of contemporary quilters explore dyeing and surface design techniques to create their own one off fabrics. Contemporary embroiderers also dye and print the back grounds of their work. Dyeing with Bleach is a tutorial from Threads Magazine on using household bleach to produce patterns on natural fabrics.
There is a variety of ways to remove color (the technical term is discharge) from dyed fabric, but for controlled results on all kinds of fabric you generally need lots of experience and testing, plus some highly toxic chemicals. I find it much safer, and certainly a lot more fun, to simply experiment with the less-predictable but still compelling effects of applying ordinary household bleach to dark, natural-fiber fabrics, either by spraying or brushing the bleach on flat fabric (Resist-and-spray technique), or by dipping the fabric in it, after protecting part of the surface in some way from contact with the bleach (Wrap-and-dip and Pipe-wrapping techniques).