Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Fabric Manipulation

I have admitted just about everywhere publicly that I stalk Fabric Mart...I even have a post about it here! A few days ago, I posted a fabric that I purchased from them a white/red floral linen blend.

This fabric really struck a cord because I had recently seen this ad in several of the fashion magazines:

I liked the fabric more than the style of the garments and I wanted the fabric. So I decided to tea dye the fabric.

I have tea dyed once before ~ a 100% cotton knit fabric which I made into a cardigan with very good results. So I didn't expect to have any difficulties dyeing this piece. What I love about tea dyeing is that its a gentle way to manipulate fabric. It softens the background or original color of the fabric ~ giving it a sort of antiquey look.

To tea dye, I use a big rubbermaid bin full of scalding hot water and about 30 packets of Lipton tea and leave the bin to reside in my bathtub for at least 24 hours.

I swirl the teabags around and get the mixture as dark as I can before I submerge the fabric. To make sure that the tea dyes or stains the fabric equally, you should stir the water frequently. This is to avoid different sections of the fabric rising to the top of the tea mixture and not getting as much exposure to the stain as the submerged areas will. When I tea dyed a piece of fabric the first time, I did it over the weekend so that I had plenty of time to constantly stir the dye mixture. This time I was a little over anxious to get results so I stirred it several times before going to bed but the next day I basically left it alone. Well I did have to go to work to make money to buy more fabric.... So there are sections of my fabric where the stain is lighter and then there are some blotchy stains. At first I thought I would need to redo this process but after drying and pressing the fabric, I think these imperfections give the fabric character.

Do I know what I am going to make with this fabric? No...... Am I satisfied with the manipulation of the fabric?! A very hearty yes! Sometimes I just have a need to make a fabric more my own! And this process definitely fulfilled my need.

Here is a picture of the dyed and pressed finished piece:

Just a little different from the original!

So before you ask, here is the tea dyeing recipe:

1. Fill a large container with very hot water.

2. Add tea bags - regular old tea bags work best.

3. Swirl the tea bags in the water to get the darkest color possible.

4. Remove the tea bags and then add the fabric.

5. Leave for at least 24 hours, stirring the mixture frequently.

6. Remove fabric from water; rinse the fabric in cold water.

7. Wring the fabric as dry as possible. Place in dryer to set the dye/stain.

8. Press the fabric when you remove it from the dryer.

A new piece of fabric is now yours! You should try this. It is a great way to change an undesireable piece of fabric into something new!


  1. Awesome results! I like it much better than the stark white.

  2. I really love what you've done to this fabric. I can't see what you make with this fabric.

    Thanks for the tea dying recipe. I may have to see if I have anything in my stash to do this with.

  3. Interesting. Glad you shared the recipe for this. I may just have to give this a thought and a try.

  4. I love your fabric and thanks for the inspiration pictures, too.

  5. I haven't tried tea dyeing yet, but one of my costume sewing cohorts tea dyed some aprons because the stark white didn't look good on stage. However, we had some problems with it dyeing unevenly....darker in some spots than others. Perhaps she didn't stir it often enough?

  6. Hi Sewing Fanatic!

    I recently tea dyed a white thong to wear under white pants--no panty line!!

    Works great!!!



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