Karlene's Workshop

My sewing, refashioning and upcycling projects revealed
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The tea dye experiment

  • 26/08/2010 2:35 pm

I’ve been wanting to have a go at dyeing with tea for a while now.

I had an old white cotton skirt with a broderie anglaise hem that I wanted to incorporate into my current project (using up the pant legs from the green jeans) and needed to be less, well, white!

I also wanted to try it on this cream rayon dress mum gave me with cool embroidery details

and a vintage (gulp) wool cardigan that had become yellow with age to see a) if it would work on rayon and wool, and b) what colour would cream go in a tea bath?

From 2010-06-11-teadye-experiment

I boiled a big pot of water and then added LOTS of old tea bags, most of which had been sitting around in the kitchen for years as we drink coffee!

I let the tea brew for an hour or so and then removed all the teabags – or so I thought!

The pot wasn’t big enough for all three garments at once so I soaked them one at a time. The cotton skirt was first, I left it in for about two hours giving a stir every now and then, and took it out for a rinse.

I left the rayon dress for a bit longer, as supposedly it it harder to dye. The great thing about a tea bath is that you can use the same liquid over again. I put the wool cardigan in last and left it over night (about ten hours) as I wanted to see how brown it would go.

Unfortunately, when I took it out the next morning it was very blotchy. It was a lovely caramel brown colour, but blotchy. I couldn’t understand how this happened when the other two were fine? Was it because it didn’t get stirred?

When I emptied the pot of tea I discovered the problem. Teabags still at the bottom of the pot! Arrrgg! If you want a nice even colour, take out ALL the teabags first! And give it a stir now and then.

I also gave the garments a spin in the dryer to “set” the dye, hence the slight shrinkage of the cardigan. I’m not too worried about it as I was planning to try and felt it anyway.

Here’s my after shots of the skirt and dress:

They came out a kind of pinky brown colour, they look a bit washed out in these photo’s, you can see a more true representation of the colour in this one:

Now it works better with the other fabrics I’m using.

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