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How to Make a Fabric Look Like It's Antique

Updated on April 10, 2016

Fabrics that have that ‘aged’ vintage look have always been viewed by vintage clothing collectors, and fashion designers as special and unusual with a number of them going the extra mile in trying to search for vintage fabric finds, or in the event that those ‘authentic(s)’ are unavailable, opt to re-create vintage as much as is possible.

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

Many fashion buffs and those working in the industry will allude to the fact that finding anything of the early to middle 20th century in terms of fabrics or even apparel is not that easy . . . ‘vintage’ is becoming rarer and rarer, and will soon become the ‘new antique’.

True, you may find brightly coloured fabrics with bold geometric patterns that depict the retro era of the 1960s, and a variety of vintage inspired or mod dress styles can be made using these. There are also large floral prints inspired by fabrics of the 1970s; these can be used to make the highly popular (in its hey days!) bell bottoms. These kinds of fabrics are mainly vintage inspired fabrics.

The ‘Aged’ Look that’s Typically Vintage

But how about the faded, aged look that’s peculiar with fabrics of the 1900’s the 1950’s; the whites of the times that will now look lack-luster and dull, the creams that have a ‘buttery’ hue? These are the luxury fabrics of the time that were used to sew apparel, bridal wear, or home décor items such as table cloths, napkins, chair-back covers, and the like.

So as I said earlier on, if you have a fetish for fabrics that look antique or vintage, and need some to make some tablecloths, lace-edge pillowcases, or even a Victorian style wedding dress, and can’t seem to find exactly what you desire, why don’t you 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!

Old lace . . . you can make yours too!
Old lace . . . you can make yours too! | Source

Step-by-Step Guide - Give Your Fabric a Vintage Look

The best fabrics to use for this creation are cotton based textiles like lace, voile, or just plain cotton. As long as the material is a predominantly cotton mix, you are good to go. If you can’t find your desired fabric at your local stores, your best bet will be to source 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 there.

What You’ll Need

The preferable colour of fabric to use is white, champagne, or an off-white shade. Asides your fabric, you’ll need the following to give your fabric a perfectly vintage look.

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

The 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 staining will remove with consecutive washes, so if you wish, you may want to use a couple more tea bags than suggested. This will give you a darker tea solution, and thus a deeper vintage shade.

However what's best is to steep the tea stained fabric in a vinegar/salt/water mix after staining, then air-dry flat or with a hot iron. Your stain will set perfectly into the material and it won't fade out after your first wash.

Now you've got that vintage fabric that truly looks aged..

What You Can Make with ‘Vintage Look’ Fabrics

So be creative! Depending on what you want to make out of the fabric, make sure you chose the appropriate textile type and texture. From your finished product, you can make lovely chair covers, pretty napkins, a vintage blouse, a lace collar for a special dress, bridal veils, patchwork or small craft projects, a vintage inspired bridal dress . . . or anything that you fancy for that matter!

© 2009 viryabo


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    • profile image

      Tracy Monroy 6 years ago

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

    • 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 only regret if I have one is I never learned to play chess. Thank you!

    • viryabo profile image

      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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