TeA and CoFFee StAiNed FaBriC

crowdollI get asked a lot of questions about how to do things around the shop. My experience is candles and scented products. But I have come across others that do a wonderful job of other types of crafts and I also like to cruise the net looking for info to see how others go about doing things. So, although I have not tried these procedures for myself, I have heard and seen the results of others doing them.

Primitive decor has a palate of darker colors.. the colors you get over time. Blues and reds become muted, black gets more charcoal and anything white developes an darker antique patina. So, to get that age-old look instantly on fabric, you can tea or coffee stain.

Tea staining is the less extreme of the two methods. It will give you lightly stained, yellowish-brown areas on your fabric. Different teas will result in different tints and tones in the final product. Standard black teas will give a soft brown or cream color to your fabric, while some of the herbal teas leave more of a red tone.

 To create tea dye you will need to bring to boil enough water to soak your fabric in. Then add 1 tea bag to every half a cup of hot water and let it brew for about 10 minutes. Soak the fabric you wish to age in the bucket of tea. Swish it around every so often if you want a smooth textured finish. Leave it without moving it much for a mottled finish.

When the fabric has soaked “enough” pull it out and rinse it under cool water. You will loose a lot of the color doing this, so if it isn’t dark enough to suit you, soak it some more. Be aware that when the fabric dries it will be slightly lighter as well. It’s been found a medium light tan color can be achieved after about an hour. A richer tan can be achieved with an overnight soaking.

 Another method of staining fabrics is to sponge them. Make up the stain as before, then using an old sponge, soak up some of the tea dye and blot it onto the fabric. This gives a distinctive mottled look to your fabric. You could build up layers using different strengths of tea. The more tea dye you use, the darker the stain will be. This process gets the fabric pretty wet. You can lay the fabric out to dry, run a fan over it or bake it in the oven at about 200 degrees for a few minutes to dry it. Reapply additional coats of tea dye as necessary to get the desired color.

 Tea dye is only for natural fabrics like cotton and linen. Tea dye is also semi-permanent. What this means is that while it will not wash out easily, you can usually remove it with bleach. It may also fade in sunlight. It is not suggested for use on items (such as clothing) that will be washed regularly as modern detergents are designed to remove the tea stain.

For a richer and darker color, try coffee dye. A recipe I found was mixing 5 tablespoons of instant coffee crystals in half a cup of hot water. They also added a few drops of vanilla extract to add a bit of scent to the mix. Other recipes throw in a tablespoon of cinnamon for the aroma as well as the texture it gives.  To stain with the coffee dye, use the same sponge-blotting method described above for the tea dye. When the piece has the desired color it can then be baked in the oven. You can also spray tea or coffee dye on with a spray bottle, or dry your fabric outside in the sun on a warm day.

Since I had to get this information from other sources, here are the web sites I found the most information on and they are worth a look for other things as well:

Primitive Folk Art

Kiss My Crafts

Cinnamon Sticks and Candle Wicks ~ for the doll pictured