Tea Dyeing Fabrics

Hi there! You are invited in for tea. What flavor do you like?

Tea anyone?

Nobody around here drinks ordinary Earl gray, so that was the tea flavor that I was brewing for my first batch of tea dyeing. I gathered up little pieces of fabric, lace and scraps and put everything together in a pot of water. You can dye any natural fabrics in tea and what you will get is that sought after vintage look.

Dyeing fabric in tea

I don’t know why the vintage looks is so appealing to me, but it is. There is something calming and comfortable with old worn things. I am drawn to what ever is wabi sabi or shabby chic. I think it has something to do with my love of vintage things, flea markets and imperfection. I see the imperfection in all things I do and I sometimes strive for that (and imperfection is so easy to do for me!). It is my belief that there is nothing that can be “perfect” (as in “without flaws”). It is much better to be happy with “what is”.

Bits of tea

Wabi sabi acknowledges three things: “nothing is perfect, nothing lasts, and nothing is finished.” That sure is me in a nutshell. When we embrace those things we are closer to enlightenment.

Tea dyed bits

I own Rebekah Meier’s book Fabric Art Collage and in it there is a short segment on tea dyeing. It is not a favorite book because her style is a bit to ordered and neat for my taste, but there are a lot of interesting techniques in there that I want to try.

Drying tea

If you want to know more right now about dying visit Dawn’s page on How to tea dye. Because of that page she gets a lot of questions about dying. One question she got was; Can I tea dye my couch? Her answer is just hilarious;

Sure! All you need to do is brew up a couple hundred gallons of warm tea, make sure to use extra teabags to make it strong. Get a container large enough to hold your couch, and soak overnight. In the morning, after the tea has cooled, remove the couch and let it drip dry. You may need help as the cushions and fabric will have picked up a lot of weight from the tea and will be heavier than usual.

The questions you get from people…

Tea dyed bits
The tea dyed fabric bits on the cloth line – pretty!

Tea dyed bits

12 Responses

  1. Very pretty tea dying and yes, that couch instruction is hilarious. I wonder if the person silly enough to ask the question was silly enough to do it.

  2. Love the pictures of your process, especially the first one with the scraps hanging to dry, with the sun shining through them! And the silly couch answer just made me laugh during my lunch break :D

  3. Oh my, that couch comment had me laughing out loud- hilarious! Your tea-dyes fabric scraps look fab though. I just want to dive right in and touch them all. Would look great for the first Creative Revolution prompt!

  4. Hanna, The light + fabric in your photographs is just gorgeous! The summer light in TX is so harsh, except early and late in the day. The dyed fabrics look like prayer flags in the sun. I’ll tune in to see how they turn out.

  5. I’ve been toying with the idea of dying fabrics with tea for a while now. Your photos sure are inspiring. I just need to get a new clothesline to hang the fabric to dry…


  6. the vision of tea-dyeing a sofa is fabulous! made me laugh! what great pics you took of this process – it looks like so much fun!

  7. This post made me laugh…as I too have hung pieces with tea and rust all over them on the washline..but mine also had old rags and ratty, torn strips, etc…your display looks pretty. Anyway, I was behind a tree as some exercisers were jogging by and one woman said…euhhhh she is washing that stuff,,,she should THROW IT AWAY!!! I had to laugh then as I did just now.

  8. Greetings iHanna –
    Thanks for the post! I have some electric red yarn I got at a thrift store that I’m going to try to re-dye! I’ll try a tea + jello mix and see what happens. Thanks for the research! I’ll check out your Etsy shop, too. -M

  9. Hi, I know it was a huge joke about the couch! BUT…..I have a small settee that has a white background and would love to tea dye it, Do you think it would work to use a sponge brush to apply the tea and tea dye it without ruining the settee? It is light enough to set out in the sun to dry. I don’t know if anyone has tried that.

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