Daffy's Stitchy Friends

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tea Staining

I've had so many compliments on the fabrics I've been using lately. Thank you so much! I thought you might like to see how I do it. I know I've told you how before but hearing and seeing are two different things! Now you can see how easy it is. Use this method to get the spotty-dotted, antiqued look such as the fabric my Prairie Schooler Twelve Days of Christmas ornaments are being stitched on.

Notice: I am aware many of you have been told how horrible tea dyeing is for fabric. How the acids in the tea will ruin your projects and simply make life miserable forever after. My opinion is this is pure bunk. If tea was so bad people the world over would be going about in holey clothes and ruined furnishings after the acids from their tea break spatter ate it's way through. Simple solution to remove the tea after dying by washing and rinsing the fabric. It cracks me up how much people love to tell you how wrong you are!

Start by boiling tea. Any tea, whatever you have in the cupboard is just fine. Make strong tea! Use several tea bags and just a little water and boil it well. Today I threw a little loose-leaf tea in with my tea bags.


While your tea is boiling, lay out something to protect your work surface. I usually use plastic wrap and paper towels but my kid "borrowed" my roll of plastic wrap and didn't return it so I used a piece of aluminum foil instead. (I've put plastic wrap on my grocery list.) You can use newspaper too, you just want to keep tea from staining your counter top or table.


Lay the fabric out. Use dry fabric to get the best spots. I've tried it wet and the spots don't show up very well. However if you want really subtle spotting wet fabric will do.


This is the fun part! I use a pipette to suck up tea and squirt it over the fabric. You can also use a spoon or eyedropper or even a paintbrush. Spot and dot tea all over the fabric. Trying not to spot and dot your work surface and clothing!


When you have have enough spots, put some hot water in the sink and pour your concentrated tea in. You only need enough water to cover the fabric. It looks weak in the photo but that is just the camera flash, it's actually pretty dark. Stuff the spotted fabric into the bath and let it soak.  Don't let it fool you: this will still stain like you wouldn't believe! Use rubber gloves! The first time I tea dyed I thought, "It's just tea!" and went around with orangey-brown fingers for a week.


After the fabric has enough color (I guesstimate) I fill the other side of the sink with water and some laundry soap. (I usually save the tea bath until I'm sure I have enough color.) Wash the fabric and rinse a few times to remove the tea. If it isn't colored enough for your taste pop it back into the bath. Once it is washed, squeeze out the water and lay the fabric out on a clean bath towel. It is going to appear dark while it is wet but it will lighten in color considerably after it is dry.


Now, use a warm iron to dry the fabric. You don't have to iron it dry. I just hate waiting for hours when I can have it finished in minutes. I always iron my washed finishes too. Impatience is my middle name.


Isn't that pretty? If I was less impatient, I would zigzag stitch around the edges before I start to prevent unraveling. You did read that last paragraph, right? What I wouldn't give for a place to leave the sewing machine set up and ready to go. Or own a serger. A serger would be so cool.

Wasn't that easy? I like easy and the effect is really nice. I enjoy hand-dyed fabric but so often the design you want to stitch just looks better on a more neutral fabric. The tea-dyed fabric makes a lovely neutral and the spots and dots of staining give it a lot of interest. Be brave and try it yourself!

Thank you for visiting my blog today!
xox

34 comments:

cucki said...

wowwwww thank you so much dear..it is so easy..
a big thank you..love and hugs xx

Carolyn said...

Sharon,
I have never done this yet. I have been scared that I would ruin everything. Your directions look easy. Thanks for sharing.

Stitchin' Sweet Sue said...

This is such a fun project, especially since each piece is unique as no two 2 are ever alike. I've been swooning over a serger for ages aka stalking Craigslist:) Have a great week to come Sharon!

Doris said...

beautiful fabric color..yhe tea is great,to drink, and to dye fabric, all thank you a one tiny leaf...XD

Anne said...

Thanks for the tutorial Sharon!! If I had some fabric to dye I would try it out now!! I've got some wonderful loose leaf teas that could give me different results...I should get some fabric :D

I wish I had a good place for a sewing machine too!

Fiona said...

thanks for this... as you say it is much nicer to watch this being done.. now I will try it...
Hugz

Becky K in OK said...

Thanks for the tips. A picture is worth a thousand words, at least in my case, cause I'm a visual learner.

I've got so much fabric I believe I'll give it a try.

Barbi said...

I am going to do this!!!

Rachael xxx said...

Great tutorial

Penny said...

Thank you for showing how to do this ~ now I need to try it. :)

Mangogirl said...

Thank you for your instructions I may have to try it.

Shelleen said...

I am thinking of trying this.

Margaret said...

I'm too chicken to try this on my own. I suppose I should get over it though. At some point.

Hillery said...

Beautiful. And yes, people have been using tea to dye things for centuries, so I don't understand the hesitation either.

Kate said...

Thanks for sharing with us - it looks easier than I thought.

Christine said...

If tea eats through linen as bad as the doomsayers say I hate to think what its doing to my insides :D
You make that look so easy that I may be forced to have a go

Heli said...

Wow! Thanks for this tutorial, I will definitely try tea-dyeing some day, looks easy and I love the result!

Sue said...

^5's you. I love tea and also coffee dyeing, but I've never tried it that way before. It is a great tutorial and I'll be trying it soon.

Lei said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am so excited that you posted how you do your tea staining. I am definitely going to give it a try this week. I have tried tea staining several times and have never been satisfied with the results. This is going to be fun! Lei

Lisa Dunn said...

Thank you for this tutorial. You make it look so easy! :o) I'm going to give it a try.

That fabric is beautiful!

The Inspired Stitcher said...

Now isn't that just the bee's knees?! I'm such a visual learner. Thanks for the tutorial!

Stephie said...

Wow that looks absolutely fab :D If it works with "brown" tea, would I be correct in thinking it would also work with the flavoured teas (twinings).I am definitely tempted to dye my own material as it is quite expensive to get large pieces dyed.

Pumpkin said...

Brilliant! Thanks for the tutorial Sharon :o)

Kaisievic said...

Great tutorial, thank you.

Hugs, Kaye xoxox

Lindsay said...

Thanks for sharing, I might have to give that a try sometime

Carol said...

I bought my fabric--now just need to get up my nerve to try it!! Thanks for such a clear, instructional tutorial, Sharon :)

Jo who can't think of a clever nickname said...

Great tutorial.

Stephie, fruit teas are great! They make a subtle natural colouring which is really good when you don't want a "brash" colour.

CyberJulka said...

It's amazing! Great idea and wonderful result! Hugs from Poland!

geeky Heather said...

You rock!!!!

Meari said...

Nice tutorial. I always love your commentary. I've hand-dyed fabric before, but not with tea.

Julie said...

Even I could manage that I think, thanks.

TinaTx said...

Looks wonderful! I haven't tried it for myself - yet, but I love the look of it!

valerie said...

Great tutorial Sharon! Thanks for sharing!

Αθανασία Creations with fantasy said...

Hi! I am trying like crazy to find a way to die my own fabrics. This is a great idea. I will try it out tomorrow. Thank you so much
Athanasia ♡ Creations with fantasy