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How to Tea Dye Lace for a Vintage Look

Updated on July 4, 2017

Lace and white cotton fabrics with an ‘aged’ vintage look have always been viewed by collectors and designers as special and unique, with a number of them going the extra mile looking for vintage fabric finds.

And if the authentic is unavailable or hard to find, you can get creative by choosing lace materials with classic weaves and textures, giving them that much sought after aged look.

Fashion buffs and those working in the industry will allude to the fact that finding anything akin to the early to mid-20th century (in terms of fabrics and apparel) is no longer easy. Vintage is becoming rarer and will soon become the ‘new antique’.

Vintage inspired or authentic vintage. Can you tell?
Vintage inspired or authentic vintage. Can you tell? | Source

That ‘Aged’ Lace Look that’s Typically Antique

That faded look peculiar to lace of the late 1800s to the mid-1900’s; the whites of the times that now look lack-luster and faded, the creams with a ‘buttery’ hue, they were luxury fabrics of the time, materials that made beautiful bridal wear, fashionable clothing, home décor items like table cloths, napkins, chair-back covers, and beddings, linen, and comforters.

So for some of us that have a fetish for old things, including fabrics and old style apparel, here is a simple way to start off by making the materials we intend to use look vintage or antique.

Tablecloths, lace-edged pillowcases, a Victorian style wedding dress, a bridal veil? You can make whatever you desire. All you need is to buy some great fabric, cotton, voile, lace, or linen, and 'age' it. It will give you the looks of a century old material; the vintage fabric of your dreams!

The best fabrics for this project are cotton-based textiles like lace and voile but you can also use plain fine cotton, and as long as the material is predominantly cotton, it will work well. If you can’t find your desired fabric at your local stores, look for it online.

Try not to get confused with the choices available online . . . it can get overwhelming but it’s good to know that you’ll find choice fabrics and better bargains too.

How to Tea Dye - Step by Step Guide

The colours that work best for tea dying are white, champagne, eggshell, or off-white.

What you Require

You’ll need the following to give your fabric that perfect antique/vintage look.

  1. Regular tea bags
  2. 1 gallon of water to 2 yards (2 m.) of fabric

Staining Process

  • Now, boil 6 teabags per gallon of water.
  • Leave the tea to cool down until warm
  • Put the cotton cloth in the tea solution, and leave it in to soak well
  • If you require just a light staining, let it sit in the solution for 6 hours
  • For a medium stain, it’s good to let it soak in the solution for 12hours
  • If you want maximum staining, let it sit for approximately 24hours

In some cases dyeing will fade with consecutive washes, so if you wish, you may want to use a couple more tea bags than suggested above. This will give you a darker tea solution, and thus a deeper tea-dye shade.

However what's best is to steep the tea stained lace in a vinegar/salt/water solution immediately after staining. Air-dry flat or dry with a semi-hot iron. This will allow the dye to set perfectly into the material and ensure it won't fade after your first wash.

What You Can Make with Fabrics That Look Aged

You can get creative with this!

Depending on what you want to make, ensure you choose an appropriate textile type and texture.For instance, you can tea dye fine lace to make a Victorian style wedding dress or make a cathedral veil out of some intricately woven net lace fabric. And for table linen, tea dyeing white cotton fabrics with heavily embroidered lace turns out brilliant.

You can also make lovely chair covers, pretty napkins, a vintage blouse, a lace collar for a special dress, vintage inspired bridal gloves, patchwork quilts, or other small craft projects.

© 2009 viryabo

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    • profile image

      Tracy Monroy 7 years ago

      We have some great looking vintage fabrics at fabricmaven.com Let me know if you have any furniture or upholstery fabric questions! @fabric_ on twitter and be sure to check out FabricMaven.com!

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 6 years ago

      You responded to a question I asked on a forum so I came to your site to check it out. I found this one and being one who really like to bargain shop and in doing so I like thing to look like they cost more than I paid for them, this hub is a keeper for me. In your profile it says that you like to play chess...my only regret if I have one is I never learned to play chess. Thank you!

    • viryabo profile image
      Author

      viryabo 6 years ago

      Hello Dee,

      Thanks for your visit and for finding time to leave me nice comments. I'm glad you find this informative.

      I do love playing chess (i take loosing a chess game so personally though!).

      Its never too late to learn.

      Thanks and GodBless

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