Which is the best way to dye fabric with black tea?
Hi Creative Mamas! I am so excited to share with you how to achieve beautiful results with tea dyeing fabric! I want to show you this super easy and quick way to dye fabric with black tea.
All you need is fabric and some tea bags.
Tea Dyeing : What you need to know
The main reason why dyeing with black tea is so easy and fun is because tea naturally contains tannins which means that it will bond to the natural fibers without the assistance of a mordant. You will normally go through a few steps before you can even dye your fabric as explained in this article.
But I am about to share a super quick hack to get amazing color from black tea and avoid a few long steps along the way 🙂
Dyeing fabric with tea is a super eco friendly process and a fun activity to share with the kids. You can also tea dye wool and roving and create beautiful knitting, crochet and felting projects!
The best dyeing methods to use for dyeing fabric and wool with tea
My favorite dyeing methods to tea stain when dyeing with black tea are:
- Hot dyeing method (the method used here which requires a hot dye bath )
- Solar Power Method
- Over dyeing Method
Is tea staining or dyeing permanent?
Yes! Its definitely permanent (colorfast). Just make sure that when you rinse your fabric the water is coming clear.
After that stage the dye should never bleed again and it will be there forever 🙂
What kind of tea do you use to dye fabric?
You must use back tea to dye fabric and yarn because it contains high levels of tannin. this means that the tannin acts as a mordant and you can tea dye without the use of mordants such as Alum.
How to tea dye fabric with tea Tutorial
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link. Please see my disclosure for more details.
How to dye cotton fabric with tea
For this tutorial I will show you how to dye 100 % cotton which is a cellulose fiber. As with all natural dyeing processes you must use 100 % natural fibers to obtain best results. With a simple fabric burn test you can make sure that you have the appropriate fiber before you start the dyeing process. Click here to read how to quickly perform a fabric burn test.
Materials and Equipment:
- Black tea bags (I used English Breakfast black tea)
- Cotton/ Silk or wool
- Cotton napkins (I found this wonderful napkins which are all ready to dye and they make a great present!)
- A big stainless steel pot
- Wooden spoon
- Neutral PH soap
- Heat source
- Rubber gloves
You can follow this tutorial using these napkins or you can use any regular 100% cotton fabric. I love these napkins because I can give them away as presents!
Step 1: Tea dye
Fill a pot with hot water. Add 1 tablespoon of neutral PH soap and stir well. Place fabric inside the pot. Bring solution to a boil and boil the fabric for 1 hour until the water is yellow. Rinse well.
Step 2: Tea Staining
Fill your dye pot with water and place the tea bags inside. I used 15 tea bags for this tutorial. Bring the liquid to a boil and let it go down to a simmer for 15 minutes minimum. Once you have a nice brown color you can place your wetted fabric inside the dye pot. Stir well and keep simmering for 1 hour.
The fabric will start to take the color little by little. You can leave it simmering for longer if you feel that the color is not intense enough. Also remember that the color will look lighter once the fabric is dry.
You can also add more tea bags to the dye pot in case you really want to increase the dye intensity. The dye bath will keep working for you as long as you keep the heat source going 🙂 Just play around and have fun!
Step 3: Removing the fabric from the tea dye
Once you are happy with the color intensity that has been achieved (in my case it took 1 hour of simmering) you can remove the cotton from the dye bath and rinse it well.
You want to make sure that you rinse until there is no color coming out. Tea dyeing is very easy because of the tannins in the tea. The fiber normally absorbs the tea dye really well.
The result of dyeing fabric with tea
How to achieve an antique look using tea staining to dye fabric
I use a little hack called “over dyeing” to change the color of my commercially dyed fabrics and threads as well as to change the tones of my antique laces, trims and doilies.
To learn how to give fabric a vintage look using black tea check out this tutorial.
How to dye using tea or coffee with cold water
I also like to use the Solar Dyeing Method to dye with tea or coffee. It’s a fun process and super cool to share with the kids. Check it out here! There is no heat dye bath required!
This method will allow you to extract the color little by little by using the sun as your heat source. It’s very cool because it means that you can make your dyeing jars and leave them alone for a couple of weeks.
The color will release little by little with no effort from your part. I love this method and I use it lot for smaller pieces of fabric scraps and for embroidery wool yarn.
I usually have 10 jars on the go at any one time.
For dyeing with tea I use black tea bags from the grocery store and for coffee I use the used ground coffee from my morning coffees. I buy regular English Breakfast tea bags.
How long to leave fabric in coffee?
When dyeing fabric with coffee I usually leave it for 3 weeks.
How long to leave fabric in tea?
When dyeing fabric or yarn with black tea bags I usually get excellent colorfast results within 1 week
Can you dye fabric without boiling?
Yes! You can dye fabric and yarn without boiling or simmering at hot temperatures by using the Solar Dyeing Method or the Cold Dyeing Method.
Are you interested in Natural Dyeing?
Download your FREE Natural Dyeing Guide. EASY 8 steps process to create bright colors from natural dyes that will last forever (even if you have never done it before.
Can you dye polyester using tea bags?
Unfortunately natural dyeing processes are only effective and permanent on natural fibers such as 100% cotton, linen, wool, silk, hemp, flax.
In order to know what kind of fiber you have make sure to perform a quick burn test. This test will tell you if the fiber is 100% natural and will save you a lot of time and frustration.
If you enjoy dyeing with things that you have around the house check out these articles:
More fun creative fabric and wool crafts include quilt as you go tutorial using the tea dyed fabric scraps, creating fabulous pom poms, embroidery stitches and techniques and a great sewing tutorial to make your own socks!
All of these tutorials are great to use in combination with tea dyeing just make sure that the fiber is 100% natural and you will get great results.