Tea Dyeing Fabric

Tea Dyeing Fabric
A great fall tradition is the proliferation of harvest and craft fairs. They are a celebration of the end of the summer season, a recognition of the bounty nature produces from sun, rain, soil, and hard work. Trees turn their red and gold colors, the air is warm with a hint of coolness to come, street market stands with eye-catching colors of neatly stacked produce appear, and of course local handiwork showcasing needlework, quilting, sewing, canning and art work of all kinds are a delight to experience.

Especially charming are craft fair items made from tea dyed cottons and linens whether sad-eyed soft bears or long eared bunnies, cuddly dolls in long dresses and pinafores, fabric frames for memory books, heirloom lace shawls or table linens, or lacy sachets all give thought back to a now romanticized past.

Some tips when tea dyeing textiles:

Different tea types and brands produce different colors Most produce ecru colored tints some with undertones of pinks or yellows. Test a fabric swatch first to see the intensity of color desired.

Tea dyeing works best on 100% cotton or linen however some blends can take some coloring as well depending on the percentage of cotton or linen.

Prewash fabric first to remove any sizing. Submerge fabric afterwards with cool to warm water, then gently wring dry so the damp fabric takes up the tea tint.

The longer in the tea bath the deeper the color.

A yard of 45-inch wide fabric will need about 6 to 12 tea bags first steeped in two quarts of hot water. Remove tea bags before placing damp fabric into the tea water.

The color of the tea dyed fabric will lighten when dry. Iron the fabric to partially set the color if making accessories or handcrafted sewn toys.

A water and salt solution or water and vinegar can be used as a natural fixative prior to tea dyeing if the fabric item is to be made into clothing or table linens, however repeated launderings with harsh detergents will eventually remove some of the tea coloring. Best to launder any items made from tea dyed fabric in cold water and line dry.

Tea dyeing fabric gives an antique ambiance by adding soft coloration to items made by hand. Sewing and crafting have long been companions to traditional fall festivities showcasing lovingly made rag dolls, delicately colored patchwork quilts, simply embroidered pillow covers, and all manner of handcrafted items made from bits of fabric saved and transformed into delightful treasures. Those handcrafted treasure made from tea dyed fabrics and trims surely grow in meaning with each passing year.

Sew happy, sew inspired.

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