Many people tea dye fabric for many reasons. Sometimes the fabric is too bright, or you want an aged antique look, or you just like the colour, or your trying to get a uniform look for a lot of different fabrics. For me all of these are good reasons to tea dye fabric. As I needed to dye a fresh batch of calico the other day, I decided to share how I do it.
Here I am going to show you how I tea dye fabric. Its very simple, and very affective.
I use my laundry sink to do this as I nearly always dye a large batch of fabrics at one time. ( I do this because I am essentially lazy and it saves a lot of time and effort.) If you are dying small amounts of fabric, you can use a bowl, or even your kitchen sink.
Step 1: Put the tea in the sink.
Get some cheap tea bags, loose tea is a no go as it will just stick to everything and be quite painful to get off. Remove the tags carefully from the tea bags (if they have tags) and place in sink. I am dying 3 meters of calico here so I put in 50 tea bags, to get it nice and dark.
The amount of tea you use depends on how dark you want your fabric to get. You will have to experiment on this as it is a personal preference thing.
Step 2: Add Hot Water and Fabric.
Fill the sink with enough hot water to cover the fabric you are dying. Place fabric in the tea.
Swirl your fabric around making sure it all gets wet and ends up under water. I pre-washed 2 meters of the calico and put in 1 meter that hadn't been pre-washed.
Leave fabric for half and hour or so, then go and check it. Move the fabric around and make sure that any bits that have been sticking up above the water are pushed under now.
You can leave it for 2 to 3 hours and then take it out. This will usually give you a good even coverage. For some reason unknown to me I left this lot in for 24 hours. Keep in mind that the fabric will end up much lighter after you have washed it.
Step 3: Wash the fabric.
Carefully pick all the tea bags out of the water. I put mine in a bucket and then add them to the compost heap. Squeeze the water out of the fabric and put the fabric in the washing machine. Use your normal wash powder, and set it on a normal cycle. *Please Note* I have only ever washed mine on a cold water cycle, so I do not know what results you will get if you wash the fabric on a hot water cycle. The calico in the middle is the one I didn't pre-wash.
Step 4: Iron it dry.
As I do not posses a clothes dryer I iron my fabric dry. Hanging calico out on the line will result in very wrinkly fabric that is horrible to iron when you do want to use it.
Step 5: Use it!
There are so many things you can do with tea dyed fabrics. Here are a few past projects as examples.