Sunday, April 22, 2012

I Tea-dyed the Bedroom Curtains.

 I bought these curtains years ago from Fabricland for $5 a panel. I like them but the red of the toile and the white of the fabric are a bit much. I wanted to soften the white into a beige with tea-dye.

I boiled the tea bags and added salt. I let the curtains sit in the steeping tea.

I only wanted a beige colour - a bit of antiquing - so I put them through the wash after 30 minutes.

The stark white was definitely muted but it wasn't exactly beige... Like a fool, I decided to add laundry detergent to the washer cycle and it washed out the a lot of the tea "stain"

So I decided to try again, letting the curtain sit in very hot water with ten or so tea bags, overnight. (I boiled the tea and let it steep for 15 minutes first. Then I added it to the curtains in the hot water).

Now, the contrast between the red flowers and the white background has been softened. 

Again, the results are not as dramatic as with commercial dyes but there are no harsh chemicals in the tea bags. I could control how dark I wanted the curtains by how long they soaked and how many tea bags I added. There was little run-off and I hand-washed the curtains this time.


  1. i worry that the garment will unevenly dye. How Do you work around that?

    1. As long as you completely submerge the garment in the dye water and add salt that shouldn't be a problem. I let the garment sit in the dye for a long period of time and I stir it. With commercial dyes and single garments, I bring the item to a boil in the dye solution. Stirring occassionally. The item will only take so much colour, so the idea is to satuarate it. With tea dye, that isn;t going to happen. SO you want to dye a garment with the expectation that the effect may be mottled.

  2. I like the effect definitely looks softer and country chic. I like the print by the way. It's a cheaper and more organic way of dying fabric, definitely beats harsh chemicals, and I love the subtle look.


  3. My mom dyed some pants and they didn't turn out. I 'm a little worried to dye because of this experience. Any advice?

  4. 8 things about tea-dying you should know:

    1. It's an easy and inexpensive way to mute down fabrics that look too bright or too new.

    2. It's a way of bringing together unrelated fabrics.

    3. It's a way to make any fabric look older or more antique.

    4. It can mask minor stains.

    5. The tea dye process is more forgiving than mordant dying, although not as predictable.

    6. The tea dye is non-toxic.

    7. It doesn't irritate skin.

    8. It can be done in stages: dye it, dry it and if you're not happy with the result, dye it again or bleach it out.

    1. One lovely trait of tea dying is that if you're not happy with the color, you can let it sit longer (for darker and more intense results) or you can mix a little bleach in the rinse water to lighten or remove the color.

    2. Thanks Suzanne. Great list!

    3. Using the dryer to set the tea dye makes sense. Great Post Nothy!

  5. When you achieve the color you want, toss the fabric in the dryer set on its highest setting. When it's almost dry, remove it and smooth it out with an iron set at the hottest temperature the fabric can handle.
    Great post, thanks Nothy!

  6. I'm wondering if you couldn't achieve much the same effect just by washing the drapes with a load of dark-colored clothes once or twice.

    1. Sure, that is a way to dye fabric. (I've definitely done it unintentionally once or twice when a lone red sock winds up in the wash with light colours.)



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