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Tea Dying

Updated on August 21, 2018
Tea Dying
Tea Dying | Source

Intro to tea dying

Tea dying is a wonderfully easy techinique to use to turn your new piece of lace, or stitchery into a beautiful antique looking piece of art. It is a way to make your cross stitch or needlework into a one of a kind piece. It uses a few simple items that most of us already have in our kitchen.

With this technique you can either dye a particular area of the whole piece. The best fabric to use is an evenweave fabric. I find that the regular aida cloth used for cross stitch handles the tea dye very well. However, an evenweave cotton also takes to this techinique as well. Don't forget about lace, pillowcases and tablescarves or even Christmas ornaments and Christmas stockings. There are many different items you can tea dye.

Any tea will do for the dying. If you like the golden yellow of antiqued lace you might want to think about using an herbal tea, my suggestion would be a chamomile tea. It needs to steep in the tea longer but the golden color looks as though your great-grandmother owned this piece first. If you like the redish brown tint, orange pekoe is the one for you. It is always a good idea to test the tea dye on a scrap of fabric before proceeding.

Make sure you steep the tea to the perfect color
Make sure you steep the tea to the perfect color | Source

Let's get started on the small selected area


3 tea bags

1/4 tsp vinegar

1/2 cup boiling water

In this technique you will be creating a halo type effect. Before you begin look at the piece an decide how much of the piece you wish to dye. When you have decided sew a loose running stich around the outside edge of the area you wish to dye. This is to help you keep the tea dying in the area you want. It is a guide only.

Prepare tea:

Add all of the ingredients above and let steep for one minute. Squeeze tea bags and remove.


1. Submerge fabric in cold water. It is important to thoroughly soak the fabric. If you don't the dying will turn out with blotches and streaks. When fabric is saturated center it on ta bowl that is slightly larger than the area you wish to dye.

2. Pour the tea slowly over the fabric beginning in the center of the area. As you reach the edge of the area you wish to dye use a wet paintbrush to blend the edges. This will lighten the tea as it moves away from the center causing a halo look. If you wish to have a deeper color just add more tea.

3.Carefully remove fabric and place it on a clean, dry, old terry towel. Allow to lie flat on the terry towel until piece is dry. Once it is dry you can iron and remove stitches.

Use different teas for different color shades.
Use different teas for different color shades. | Source

Larger tea dying areas


tea bags of your choice

1/2 tsp vinegar

boiling water

In this technique you will be dying larger items. Perhaps a pillow case or a christmas stocking.


1. Boil several cups of water and add 4 to 5 tea bags for smaller items and 9 to 10 for larger items. Make sure there is enough liquid to fully submerge item.

2. If tea solution is not dark enough add more tea bags and let set for several minutes. If tea solution is to dark add more boiling water a little at a time until satified with depth of color.


1. Fully saturate the item you are going to dye in cold clear water. Shake out fabric so there are no folds or creases. Submerge in the tea dye solution.

2. Let item soak for ten minutes then check the color. If you are satified with the shade take out and rinse with cold water. If it is lighter than you would like return to tea solution and continue to check every 5 minutes until you are satisified.

3. Place rinsed item on a large white terry cloth towel. Let it lie flat until dry. When item is dry you can iron it and enjoy it.

© 2009 Susan Hazelton


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    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Hazelton 

      10 years ago from Sunny Florida

      You are absolutely right about the vinegar BKCreative, its what seets the color, I appreciate your comment. shafiqahmed I appreciate your comment.

    • BkCreative profile image


      10 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I just did some serious tea dying - and forgot all about the vinegar! Sigh! Well, I will try again. I have every kind of tea and can spend the whole winter just dyeing everything.

      Thanks for that vinegar reminder! It's necessary!

    • shafiqahmed profile image


      10 years ago

      Its an informative article and of benefit for me


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