Adventures with Tea Dyeing by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence
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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. 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 i(and I’m quite sure this was prompted by Portia’s post 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!


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