Adventures in tea-dyeing

Adventures in tea-dyeing

It was quite an adventure last week. Do you remember back last September I got a William Morris Charm pack? Well, I dug it out again recently, with a quilt plan in mind.

I’m not sure if my taste has changed, or if I was seeing them in a truer light (as opposed to what was quite a dark shop) but now the orange in particular (at the bottom) and to some extent the green too (on the right) looked just wrong. Too gaudy.Β They’d over-power the delicate more muted hues of the William Morris fabrics. I really wanted to use the fabric though, rather than buy more and add to my stash, and then it hit me. A lightbulb moment. I could tea-dye itΒ (and I’m quite sure this was prompted byΒ Portia’s postΒ I’d read a few days earlier!)

I had to get some extra yardage for what I have planned and, as I was dyeing it I wanted to do it all in one batch to ensure an even colour. Unfortunately, I could only get extra orange and had to buy a different coloured green (the one up there on the left), but at least I have been partly thrifty!

After a bit of a google check (and unfortunately those sites seem to have now disappeared) I’d come across different suggestions for timing/tea:water ratio and was starting to get a bit nervous – I didn’t want to ruin perfectly good fabric, even if it was a bit too gaudy for my taste. Eek!

One afternoon I decided to stop procrastinating and to get on with it! I was dyeing a metre of fabric, so I measured out about 2 litres of water (the equivalent of about eight cups of water) and sixteen teabags (Tesco Everyday Value, 80 bags for 45p!) and bought it up to the boil in a big pan and let it steep for a good ten minutes. It does make the room a bit pongy! I did try to take a pic of this for you, but check out all the steam!!!!! Not sure you can really see that much?!

As you can see, I left the tea bags in. I did debate whether or not to do so (I was worried about the bags sitting against an area of the fabric and causing a darker patch) but it worked out fine.

Whilst the tea had been steeping, I’d pre-soaked my fabric. Once my mixture was ready (and by this point, I was starting to feel a little bit like a witch!) I added in my fabric and gave it a bit of a swish around to make sure it was as well covered as possible. I was only going to leave it ten minutes but had read somewhere that you got a softer hue if it was left a bit longer, so eventually left it for about thirty minutes, giving it regular stirs to move the fabric around for an even coverage.

After rinsing until the water ran clear, I stuck the fabric in the tumble drier to help ‘set’ the colour and then gave it a good iron. And it was all done….

This is the truest colour picture that I can get, in truth I think the dyed fabric is probably a little bit darker than this if you see it in real life, but it’s made a fantastic difference – it’s muted enough to go really well with the William Morris fabrics now. Yay!

I got to use it sooner than expected too. A friend had ordered one of my slouchy tote bags and when I came to make it, I realised that I didn’t have enough of the fabric left over. Panic!!!!! Whilst deliberating what to do, I looked over, saw my recently dyed fabric and thought ‘ooooh, that’s a good match’!!!!! After a little bit of chopping and fussy cutting I had a new bag design……and thankfully my friend loved it!

The rest of the fabric has all been chopped up for my quilt. Now I just need to prep my other fabric and then I’ll be able to make a start!

See you soon,

S x

Today’s sky ::: glimpses of blue through lots of clouds!


  1. February 5, 2013 / 4:56 pm

    WOW, the tea dye made quite a dramatic change, I'm impressed.

  2. February 5, 2013 / 5:27 pm

    What a result, Sonia! It's a much softer, more blendable colour as a result. My mother is a great one for tea-dying things but I haven't tried it myself (yet!) Next time my eye alights on something that turns out to be too gaudy on arriving home, it's going into my teapot! Thank you for sharing this and making it seem so manageable. E x

  3. February 5, 2013 / 6:19 pm

    Wow! I love the bag! I tried teadyeing and other dyeing some years ago – and I have to rememeber that I can do that when the color of the fabric needs a tweak! Thanks for your visit!

  4. February 5, 2013 / 7:39 pm

    I like bright colors. With the right other fabrics the orange would have been OK, but not with the ones you were trying to use it with. I LOVE the tea died result. It has a wonderful depth. Are you going to do the greens too?

  5. Anonymous
    February 6, 2013 / 1:07 am

    That's brilliant and the new colour is perfect to go with the Morris prints. It's beautifully even too. I love the bag – no wonder your friend's pleased with it! Abigail x

  6. February 6, 2013 / 7:22 pm

    Wow! You're very brave, I was getting scared just reading about it! The dyed colour is lovely, it looks very rich. Also your bag is gorgeous. πŸ™‚

  7. February 6, 2013 / 10:25 pm

    Thanks Marelize πŸ™‚ I'm so pleased with the results….it does feel a bit more art than science at the moment, but practise might make me more confident!

  8. February 6, 2013 / 10:27 pm

    I'll keep an eye out for your experiments! I've got a duvet cover that I'm thinking of dyeing next…..I have a feeling this could be addictive! Sx

  9. February 6, 2013 / 10:28 pm

    Thanks Kirsten – I've been thinking of doing a tutorial for it for a while now, I just need to find the time. Tea-dyeing is definately fun! Sx

  10. February 6, 2013 / 10:30 pm

    Thanks for popping by Stella πŸ™‚ I'm not going to dye the green this time as my local quilt shop didn't have the same colour I already had, so I ended up buying a more suitable one instead.

  11. February 6, 2013 / 10:32 pm

    Thanks Abigail πŸ™‚ I've made quite a few of these bags now – they're nice and roomy…a nice progression from nappy bags, dare I say it?! Sx

  12. February 6, 2013 / 10:34 pm

    Cheers Lynne, it really was quite scary, but one of those moments where afterwards I wondered what I'd panicked about! Am so sad I haven't got any of that fabric left now πŸ™ it makes great bags Sx

  13. February 7, 2013 / 5:57 pm

    I'm just over from the small blog meet, you bag…and earlier cushion recycled pouch are fantastic. I love to make bags too, though I'm not sure I would have dared try the tea dye!

  14. February 7, 2013 / 5:59 pm

    I've just seen to that you reply in the blog post, most people do not have time to pop back and generally it is easier to email your reply…hope this helps as you have a lovely blog.

  15. February 7, 2013 / 6:05 pm

    Thanks for your lovely comments on my blog and projects, the tea-dyeing isn't quite as scary as it looks!!!!!

    See you soon,

    S x

  16. February 7, 2013 / 6:06 pm

    Thanks for your note about responding to emails πŸ™‚ I've actually started doing both (clearly I've got too much time on my hands!), as some of my regular commenters are no reply bloggers, and I really like to respond to everyone who's taken the time to comment πŸ™‚ x

  17. Chumkie Mukherjee
    February 8, 2013 / 4:07 pm

    I love your tote bag and just began following your blog. Looking forward to your next post!
    My Favourite Things.

  18. February 8, 2013 / 10:17 pm

    Thanks for popping by πŸ™‚

  19. February 9, 2013 / 10:30 am

    The tea dying was such a great idea. The difference is remarkable. Look forward to browsing through the rest of your blog. Found you through Small Blog Meet.

  20. February 25, 2013 / 11:50 am

    What a difference tea dyeing can make! I did the same thing to some teal fabric, years ago, to make it work with plates for a Dresden fan (see the quilt in this post: I ended up trying different pieces for different amounts of time until I got just the right shade but it was worth it. Well done!

  21. February 25, 2013 / 3:38 pm

    Thanks for popping by Elita – I'll check it out. And thanks for the nomination πŸ™‚ x

  22. February 25, 2013 / 3:38 pm

    Thanks for popping by Gillian πŸ™‚

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