Monday, July 18, 2011

Tutorial: Tea-Dying Lace (+ Giveaway)

I mentioned in yesterdays Navy Rose Dress post that I'd tea-dyed the lace at the bottom of the skirt. It was so much fun, I keep looking around for more things to dye! I thought I'd share the (extremely simple) process here, not because there's no other tutorials out there (there are tonnes), but because I really hope it inspires some of you to try your hand at it!

As you can see above, it will turn white cotton to a slightly rusty light brown colour. Of course, material type, tea strength, and length of steeping will effect what colour your material will dye to, and some experimentation may be needed to get the colour you want. Keep in mind that tea-dyed material could fade with time, exposure to sunlight, or repeated washings. In fact, some detergents could take out the dye entirely, so be aware of that. In addition, bleach should remove the tea-staining completely, which is useful if you're not happy with the resulting colour!

Stuff You Need:

Material to dye. Some lace, fabric, thread, string, etc. Keep in mind that only natural fibres can be tea dyed (cotton, silk, maybe wool, etc.), as synthetic material will not hold the dye.

Tea. So far as I know, any kind will work. I used just regular old orange pekoe that we've had kicking around for a while, but any black tea should work. I hear that coffee also works well, but is more aromatic than tea. I'm excited to try out coffee and different tea types, just to see what happens. YAY EXPERIMENTS!

Water. I boiled mine in a pot on the stove. I believe that the water should be hot to get the most colour out of the tea bags. As an added bonus, it helps pre-shrink your lace (or whatever you're dying)!

Container to dye material in. You'll need a container large enough so that the material you're dying can move freely in it. I used a small pot since I was only dying a small amount of material, but sadly it's formally white interior is now tea-dyed. LUCKILY, a bit of bleach should take out the stain. (I hope, because it's my Grandma's pot.)


Bring your water to a boil and add the tea. Allow it to steep for about 5 minutes (or maybe longer if you're using a lot of water). I used 2-3 cups of water, and 3 bags of tea. For the lace shown at the top of this post, I used about 4 cups of water and 6 tea bags. It didn't turn out much darker than the lace I dyed for this post, so I don't think as many tea bags were needed. Once again, trial and error will be your friend here.

Add your material to the dye. Stir it around occasionally to, and make sure that the material all remains submerged.

Allow to sit for a while. I left this batch in for about 10 minutes, but I have read about some leaving it for an hour, a couple hours, and even over-night. I didn't want this lace to get too dark, so I only left it for about 10 minutes. The colour of the material will be much darker when wet than it will be when dry. Keep this in mind during steeping.

The initial tea-staining occurs very rapidly, but I'm curious about the longevity of the dye with different lengths of steeping time. I fully plan to experiment in the coming weeks, and will let you know what I find out.

Pull out your material and rinse out the excess tea. You may notice that it already lightens up a bit. I've seen people recommend machine washing the material at this stage. Depending on your material type and what you intend to use it for, that may be the best option. I chose to simply hand-wash the material with a small amount of detergent. This step will also lighten up the dye a bit.

Dry your material. I chose to dry it using an hot iron, which allowed me to press it flat at the same time. You can see how much lighter in colour the dried lace is than when it is wet.

Et voilĂ ! A lovely tea-dyed bit of lace (or whatever you chose to dye) to add a bit of vintage charm to your project. It may be difficult to see in these pictures, but the original lace here had two colours in it, with the centre scoop shape in white and the rest of it in cream. I loath white and cream together (hence choosing it to dye). If you look closely at the dyed lace, the centre scoops are a lighter shade than the rest of the lace. I much prefer the two tone effect in the dyed lace!

Another thing to keep in mind is that tea-dying will not generally produce a uniform dye. There may be dark spots and light spots in it. I adore the effect on the lace, but it may not be as charming on a larger piece of material.

Now for the giveaway!

Would anyone be interested in this tea-dyed bit of lace? It's a cotton crocheted lace, approximately 1.85 m long. If so, comment below before Friday morning (July 22), and I'll choose a winner using an online random number generator at about noon, central standard time (Manitoba, Canada - if that helps for my international readers).

And yes, this is open to everyone living on Earth. Sorry to any readers on the Moon or Mars, the shipping rates to you is just way too expensive! D:


  1. That tea-dyed lace is so pretty! Great colors. I just got several yards of lace at a garage sale and I might have to try this

  2. I'd love the tea dyed lace for a summer top project that I'm been dreaming of through the Sydney winter.

  3. I'd love to have the tea dyed lace. Please enter me in the drawing!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...