Monday, May 15, 2006

Tea-Staining Fabric

Sometimes, a vintage textile has stains that just won’t go away. No matter what technique you use in attempts to clean, the stain is permanent.

If it’s not a valuable antique textile, you might consider tea-staining as a way to camouflage the stain. Tea staining gives your textile a vintage look, downplays the stain, and can improve the overall image of the stained textile.

If your antique textile is rare or valuable, consider just leaving it as is and not tea-staining it. An antique textile's stains are also part of it's long life and history, and sometimes it's just better to accept the old stains rather than to try to improve upon them.

This method can also be used on new fabrics which you would like to look old. It's easy to do!

To Tea Dye a Fabric:
  • Bring to a boil 3 gallons of tap water in a stainless steel pot.
  • In the meantime, fill your sink with cold water and soak fabric to be dyed. Having your fabric uniformly wet allows it to accept the dye evenly.
  • Place 8 ounces of black tea - any inexpensive kind will do - tied in a section of cheesecloth or muslin, and add to the boiling water. Boil for 30 to 60 minutes; the longer the boil, the darker your dye solution will be. Remove tea bag.
  • Wring out your evenly dampened fabric, and add it to the dye bath. Turn off the heat, and let it steep for several hours, even overnight. Swish it around occasionally to get an even dye level and to check for dye color.
  • When it reaches the color shade you like, remove and rinse in cool water until it runs clear. Remember - fabric will appear darker when wet. Wash with Ivory or other mild detergent and rinse again.
  • Gently wring, roll in an old towel, and hang to dry.

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