Sunday, February 27, 2011

Why yes, my fabric will have a cuppa

Am I allowed to say cuppa? I'm not a Brit...I'm not sure if there are rules with these sorts of things. Anyway, I lifted the ban on my fabric buying for an hour yesterday. I was only going to get some red polka dot fabric but then I saw something else and decided I deserved it. I'm going to make you wait until I use it to reveal it to you, because I ran into a little preparatory fun...but this week. Pinky swear.

I bought an eyelet trim to use, but it was bright white. It would have worked well enough, but when I showed my mother the fabric she said "Why don't you tea stain it?" See? This is why I need people around. I wouldn't have come up with that idea. It was so super easy I decided to share the process with you.

Here's what I started off with:

It's not a high quality piece, so the weave isn't too tight--which is perfect for tea staining fabrics.

You want to make sure you have enough room in the pot to give it a good stir and to enable the tea to get into any folds adequately. I used ten cups of water and a tea bag per cup. I used regular Tetley tea for this. Bring the water to a boil, then turn it off and put your tea bags in to steep. I left them in for about five minutes. Here's a picture just to give you an idea of the size pot I used:

Haha--it really doesn't give you an idea at all, I am now realizing. A rough estimate is 4 quarts. After five minutes, take out the tea bags and put in your fabric (of course if you're dying fabric you will need a much larger pot). Make sure it is fully submerged (or do I want to say immersed? Is there a difference?) and that there is room to give it a swirl and move it around a bit.

I left it in for about ten minutes, but it could have been less. Give it a check every few until it's where you think you want it.

When it's done put it in some cold soapy water (I used dish detergent--you need a mild soap of some kind or else the acid from the tea will remain on the fabric--not a good thing).

 Swish it and work it a little bit with your hands to really get the residue off. Then give it another really good rinse to get all the soap out:

I gave it a light squeeze, then put it in a dish towel and pressed on it to get most of the water out. I hung it out in the sun until it was dry. If you put it in the dryer it may leave tea stains and then you have to wipe out the inside of your dryer or you'll stain all your clothes, and the sun was out anyway... When I compared it to the fabric it's being paired with it was a little darker than what I wanted and a bit reddish. So to fix that, I used the same amount of water and put a dollop of bleach into it and a bit of soap. I swirled it around for a few minutes until it looked about where I wanted it. Gave it another good rinse, squeezed it out, hung it out to dry. And now it's perfect:

It's much less red and much more subtle but still has an aged antiquey look to it, which is what I was going for anyway:

Probably not the greatest way to go about it...I should have done a swatch test for color intensity so I wouldn't have to bleach it. And now I think I could have tried a few different teas to see what shades they turn the fabric. Or I could have just pulled it out sooner. BUT I like to wing things and I'm too impatient to test things, and all's well that ends well so no worries!

OK, off to watch the Oscars! Enjoy your Monday--I command you to! And don't forget the CSN giveaway--details at the top of the sidebar :)


  1. I too am a closet Brit!!! I say very British things, all the time. My kids used to say I was "British" but I think what they really meant was that I am prudish and proper. I love to tea stain for aging fabric. I do it quite often with my quilting projects. Your eyelet turned out great!!!!

  2. Let's all speak the Queen's English this week!
    "I don't know why but suddenly I feel like having a spot of tea."

  3. Salut Bethany. Thanks for your lovely comment - the break was great despite the weather and being back in the big city is a bit rubbish now...

    Your post made me smile, it's so funny, I live in London and I can't remember the last time I heard somebody asking for a cuppa ;-D Next point: hanging in the sun to dry!? It's so cold and grey here that your mention of sunshine makes me green with envy...

    Oh yes, lovely trim - of course the main point of your post ;-) xo

  4. Live and learn! I think it came out great!

  5. I live in Wales (which is close enough to England, it's still in the UK) and I don't think I've ever heard anyone ask for a cuppa....except on the telly.

    In fact, thinking about it, I lived in England from when I was born til I was 26 (I'm only 28 now lol) and I have never said cuppa!!

    Maybe I'm missing out a whole language part of our culture!

    Anyway, brilliant idea, I have some of this trim myself I've been reluctant to use as it's so bright white....I'll go and get the kettle on!


  6. I love dying with tea. I've heard that camomile tea gives a yellow tint.


  7. Thanks for the sweet notes on my blog about felt, its one of my new favorite materials!! I am a new follower, thank you for reminding me about tea dying, I always forget about that technique, and its such a fun thing to do! Cute blog!

  8. LOVE tea staining!! It's so much fun!!

  9. Fun! I have never tried this. Dying stuff always makes me nervous! lol Can't wait to see what you do with it!

  10. What a great idea! I too have never tried this, but wanted to. Thanks for sharing this at Fantastic Friday. I hope that you will join us again this week!

  11. wow this is a great tutorial! And I especially love the fact that you dyed it with tea! great idea!

    thanks for linking up and I hope to see you again this week! have a nice weekend! ^^)



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