Tea makes a beautiful dye that can be used on many natural fabrics. It is a safe and easy process that can be done at home in your own kitchen without the worry of harsh chemicals like other dyeing processes. In this article I will explain step by step how to make beautiful tea dyed fabric.
Notes Before You Start:
- The following instructions are for tea dyeing two standard sized tea towels (Approx 70cm x 45cm)
- Tea dyeing only works on natural fibers such as cotton, silk, linen, and wool. You cannot dye synthetic fibers such as polyester
1. Pre-wash Fabric
Pre-wash your tea towels either by hand or in the washing machine. This ensures there are no residues in the fabric that may interfere with the tea dye..
2. Pre-soak Fabric
Fill a container with water from the tap and plunge your tea towels into the water so that they are completely wet. Leave to soak for at least 10 minutes
3. Brew Your Tea Dye
- In a large saucepan or stock pot bring 6 cups of water to a simmering temperature
- Add the equivalent of 2 cups of tea leaves (if it is loose leaf tea, you will want to make giant tea bags so that your dye is not filled with leaves – see photos below)
- Brew for at least 30 minutes
- Strain out any tea leaves (If necessary)
- Add 1 Litre of boiling water
4. Dye Your Fabric
- Squeeze out any excess water from your tea towels that have been soaking.
- Transfer the tea towels into your large pot filled with your hot tea dye.
- Use a long utensil to push the tea towels under the surface of the dye so that they are completely covered (A potato masher works well as it pushes out the air bubbles).
- Leave your fabric in the dye for at least 1 hour. Fabric can be left in dye overnight if desired. Some people say that leaving the fabric overnight creates a much darker colour, but in my experience most of the colour is taken up in that first hour, so there may not be a dramatic difference if you leave it for another 12 hours.
5. Set Your Tea Dye
To set the dye, soak the stained fabric in two parts vinegar, one part water, and two tablespoons salt. Soak for 15 minutes, rinse thoroughly, dry in the dryer, and press.
Caring for Your Tea Dyed Fabric
Avoid using bleach or washing powders with optical brighteners as these will fade or remove your tea dye from your fabric.
I have a range of hand-printed tea towels available on tea dyed fabric. Visit my online shop to view these!