July 7, 2012

DIY tea-dye

The crisp white shirt I recently thrifted was ment for a DIY project I had been planning. I wanted to experiment with tea! To be more specific; how to use tea to dye cotton. I sometimes find white cotton just too white, hurts the eyes haha. What I do like are more 'nostalgic' colours. 
A shade I like to call 'parchment' ... is one of my favourites for cotton wears. It makes clothes look much more nostalgic... reminds me of the Edwardian era and antique books. It was my aim to dye the white shirt in this lovely shade. So I grabbed my blouse, a bucket, an empty soda bottle, five tea bags (regular English tea) and something to stir with.
The first thing to do; wash the (cotton) garment you wish to colour. I actually bleeched it up front, to make sure there was nothing in the fabric that could influence the process. After washing/bleeching, rinse it well and leave it damp. Then put ome water on to make a huge amount of tea. I put five tea bags in 2.5 liter boiling water and used a big soda bottle. That way it's easy to close the whole thing of and shake it around. Also, the liquid stays hot for a long time. This is important since you still want the tea to be very hot after having it set to steep up for about 15 minutes.
Remove the bags from the bottle before giving it a good old shake! If you leave them, you'll risk one of the bags ripping and you don't want the tea leaves to be in the water. The tea has to be completely void of leaves what so ever (leaves stain the cotton big time!.) Poor the strong tea into a bucket and give it another stir. Add the garment of choice. Stir the mixture of tea and cotton for about a minute. Then leave it to rest.
After a while, when the tea cooled off a bit, get your hands in there! Start kneading the garment in the tea. Make sure the tea has room to 'move' through every bit of fabric in the garment, to ensure the colour ends up equally throughout the fabric. Repeat this a few times over the next hours. You don't want it to set for too long without stirring; the tea might be more concentrated somewhere in the mixture and that may cause a variation in the colouring.
The colouring will soon set in and when to take it out depends on how dark you want the fabric to get. The longer the garment is in there (and the stronger the tea of course), the darker the cotton will turn out. I left my blouse in there for about two hours when I decided it had reached the right colour. I took it out, washed it by hand and let it dry. 
And that's it! A simple and easy way to turn a white garment into a vintage looking parchment coloured beauty. I had much fun doing it. Good luck when you're going to give it a try! And let me know how it turned out of course :)


  1. Tutorials! I like tutorials! The color has turned out verwe well, next time green tea? ;-)

  2. Oh zo heb ik lange kanten losse mouwen (net geen lange handschoenen) voor bij mijn bruidsjurk 'geverfd'... is inderdaad een goeie truc hihihih

  3. Ik heb deze techniek net gebruikt om spierwitte ric-rac te verven. Ik ben een jurk aan het maken met een patroon uit 1940 en het spierwitte paste echt niet bij de stof (een authentieke lap uit de 40s). Om het wat créme-geliger te houden ipv bruinig heb ik een zakje groene thee gebruikt, het resultaat is super! Precies wat ik nodig had. Een probleempje opgelost dankzij jou blog. ;-)


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