The Idea Of Old – Tea Dying

One of my friends has been in full-blown wedding mode as of late, purchasing her dress, veil, etc, in order to prepare for her big day (date TBA).   As we sat in her room and she modeled all the frilly laces and dainty satins in front of me, she said excitedly, “And I have your next blog!”

“Oh?” I asked.   I write about tea, not weddings…

“We’re going to tea dye my veil and shoes!”

Well, she proved me wrong; she did provide me my latest blog!   While we have yet to dye her shoes and veil, I am sure that will be a blog for later.   However, I do want to talk about the process of dying items with tea.

The idea of dying fabric with tea is to give it an antiquated look, allowing for a pleasant beige hue.   The process is generally forgiving, so long as you are not aiming for a very particular shade.   If you are, make sure you hover over the fabric, checking it every so often to be sure that it is the shade you want.   You can always go darker but it is much harder to go lighter, is a general rule of thumb for all crafts.

First, find the fabric that you want to use.   Natural fabrics, such as cotton and muslin, work best.   If you can, get a test sample and work on that first.   The worst thing is ruining a nice blouse because you thought the fabric would take well to the tea and it… well… didn’t.   While tea can be washed out with a bit of bleach, I am sure that you want to avoid that route and, at the same time, avoid doing an unnecessary load of laundry.

Make sure that the fabric is nice and clean to get proper results.

Now, make a whole boat-load of tea!   Throw hot water into a bowl (avoid any materials that might react with the tea, such as copper, to avoid getting an unwanted result) and add 3-5 tea bags to brew yourself a bowl.   If you are doing a lot of fabric, I have read that you can put your washing machine on the hot water cycle and add 5-10 tea bags for similar results.   However, as that sounds risky for the machine (if anything goes wrong, you will be out $200-$500), I would not highly recommend that.

Just like an Easter egg, dump in your fabric and ensure that all parts you want dyed are covered.   Swirl it around a bit and make sure all the air bubbles are released as well.   You can also dab it on like a wood stain in order to gain a blotchy effect, spray it on for a speckled effect or even paint on the tea.   Warning that, no matter what, you will never get that perfect, “even” shade throughout the fabric.

Such a Gorgeous, Rich Auburn Color!

Such a Gorgeous, Rich Auburn Color!

Every ten minutes, pull your fabric out of your “dye” and see the shade.   Want darker?   Leave it in for longer.   Fora faint stain, 20 minutes should suffice.   For a dark stain, you might want to put it in for an overnight soak.

When you get the shade that you want, rinse the fabric a few times so that the stain stays but you’re not still soaking it.   Hang it up to dry.

In order to keep your lovely stain, make sure that you hand-wash this particular fabric.   Also make sure you use a light soap instead of a heavy detergent that might strip away all of your hard work.

An Example of the Finished Product

An Example of the Finished Product

Keep in mind that, while I did research this relatively simple process, I have not tried it myself.   Practice with caution and do the best you can!   You might want to have a party later to sip up all of that left-over tea, too…

Did you give this process a try?   Post your photos here or on Tea Love’s Facebook page for all to see!

Once I get to dyeing with my friend, I will be sure to post some photos as well.

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