I have been using tea and coffee to dye fabrics and paper since I was a little girl making treasure maps and fantasy tour guides of other worlds. I decided to dye some material my mother had left over from making drapes and an old cotton t-shirt that I accidentally stained with my new blue swimsuit. The steps below show I what I do for fabrics, but paper is very similar.
Step 1: Decide whether to pre-wash fabrics. I don't really worry about this step because if it doesn't come out dark enough or evenly dyed, then I use it for something else or try again. I like the adventure of not knowing exactly how it will turn out, but if you feel the need to pre-wash check the fabric's washing instructions.
Step 2: Fill large pot, wash tub or bathtub with the hottest water that will come out of your faucet. Dunk as many tea bags as desired (without paper tags) into the water and using a spoon to stir them. This will release all the tannins that dye the fabric.
Step 3: Rinse fabric under faucet to dampen the fabric. This makes it easier for it to soak up dye faster.
Step 4: Dunk fabric in water, so that it is covered completely. If you are worried about it floating above the surface use pie weights to hold it down.
Step 5: Wait as long as you desire as the longer you wait the darker it will be. I usually wait just a few hours. Remove tea bags and discard or set aside for reuse.
Step 6: Ring out fabric and rinse. Discard tea.
Step 7: Follow the fabric's instructions for drying or dry on hottest heat. You can also sun-dry or air-dry depending on your needs.
1. Original White Drapes 2. Ginger Tea Dyed Drapes 3. African Bush Tea Dyed Drapes
Most people recommend cheap, black tea, but I like to use my old stock. This time I used some ginger tea and some African Bush tea. The ginger gave a light, yellow tinge to the drape fabric. The African Bush tea (see first picture) gave a reddish, brown color to the drape fabric. The cotton t-shirt turned so many colors from the ginger tea I can't wait to figure out what to use it for. The antique look these fabrics get after dying make them so much fun to turn into cloth dolls, mixed media art and even creative gift wrapping!
1. Stained Cotton T-Shirt after Ginger Tea Dye 2. Drapes after Ginger Tea Dye 3. Drapes after African Bush Tea Dye
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