How To Dye Fabric with Tea Bags

5:00 AM

I found some yellow sweatshirt fleece for a great deal online.  It arrived, and the color was a lot brighter than I wanted.  A bright banana yellow.  So I figured I'd use tea bags to dye it and give it a muted tone.
I read up online, and got into it.

First I steeped a handful of black tea bags (probably around 10)  in a big pot for quite a while, over an hour.
Then I threw the soggy tea bags away.
Because I was trying to dye 2.5 yards of fleece, I didn't have a bucket or container large enough.

So I dyed my fabric in the bathtub.
I filled the tub with enough water to cover fabric, getting it all wet before it touched the tea.
I pulled out the fabric and dumped the pot of concentrated tea in.  It looked pretty gross.
My two year old asked who went poo in the tub.
I let it soak for a few hours, squishing it around when I'd pass by now and again, trying to prevent streaks of dye.  Of course you want a uniform color, and so stirring it is important, so I'd just swish it around every now and again, and it worked and I didn't have dye lines.

Once the fabric has achieved your desired color, put it in your washing machine on just the spin cycle to get all the tea water out.
Then throw it in the dryer to set the color.

Also, because my fleece was 80% cotton, 20% poly, I think that made it harder for it to accept the tea dye.  The more natural the fabric, like 100% cotton, the better it will soak up the dye apparently.
So now it's the color I want, and I'm excited to get working on this next project!

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  1. Wow, I love that you can mute fabric colors with tea! Makes hitting the fabric clearance area that much more of a broader searh! I also LOVE your color palette and fabric chooses for that quilt! So lovely-

  2. So you didn't have to wash the fabric? Just spin it? Do you know if you are using conventional commercial dye's if you can get away with just spinning it? I can't wait to see what you make!

  3. Thinking you could probably soak it in the washing-machine (if you have a top loader) then you could turn on the agitator to not get dye lines? then spin cycle.

  4. Hi Jessica!
    I´m writing to you from Stockholm. I googled tea-dyeing in Swedish at first, but could´nt find anyone who like me, used the bathtub! My problem is that the teastains are inpossible remove!
    I feel a bit desperate since I´m renting the apartment an don´t want to find myself having to pay for the tub to be reenamelled. That costs a fortune! I have tried baking soda and vinegar and after that strong chemical stuff, but the stains wont go away!
    Have you got any suggestions?

    Best wishes
    Ingela U.


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