November 7, 2012

Tea Staining: From White to Ivory

 I have been on the hunt for little boys ivory colored dress shirts for a while now.  I usually dash down to the neighborhood Burlington and have no problem finding a rainbow of dress shirts in little boys sizes. After a couple trips and some digging I did find Landon (sz 4) an ivory dress shirt.  As for Crew, I can not find a size 18M ivory dress shirt ANYWHERE! I even forced Sam to look in every store at AZ Mills with me and had no luck. There are quite a few options online, if you can stomach spending $20 on a shirt for toddlers...
So being the cheap soul that I am, I took a tip from Mrs. Forrester ( I hope you've all seen Cranford) and decided to "improve the color" on my own.

Here's what you need:

Fabric to be dyed
Lipton Tea (amount depends on the depth of color you are trying to achieve)
Stock Pot
Wooden spoon


1. Fill a large stock pot with 20 cups of water.
2. Place the fabric to be stained in a large pot and fill with water, making sure the fabric is completely covered with a bit to spare. If needed add more water.
3. Remove the fabric and squeeze as much of the water out as possible (back into the pot.) Set fabric aside.
4.Bring the water to a boil, then turn off heat.
5. For 20 cups I used 4 teabags. A very "safe" ratio is 1 tea bag to 5 cups water. If you want a darker ivory or tan color use more tea. Add the tea bags to the hot water and allow to steep for about 3 minutes.

6. Remove the tea bags.
7. IMPORTANT! Let the tea sit until warm or you will burn your hands wringing out the fabric!
8. Place the fabric to be stained into the tea. Stir around to make sure the tea gets into all the folds and pockets of the fabric.

9. Allow to sit for a minimum of five minutes. The longer it remains in the tea, the darker the stain will be. Check periodically on the color, keeping in mind that it will lighten as it dries.
10. Wring out the fabric well, then rinse in cold water to remove excess acids from the tea.
11. Rinse well with vinegar, to set the dye in the fabric. The vinegar can be used straight, or diluted up to one part in ten in water for larger pieces where using so much straight vinegar would be cost prohibitive.

12. Use a dryer to dry the fabric.
13. Wash thoroughly as normal, to remove any remaining tea and vinegar.

I promise there is a difference, it just isn't drastic. You can play around with your recipe/sitting time to achieve whatever hue you want!
And there you have it. I've read that as long as you set the fabric with vinegar you can wash as normal and it shouldn't fade. Just to be safe, don't wash it with other whites the first few times you wash it.

1 comment:

Megan Wynn Volnoff said...

Once when I was in grade school my mom tea stained this beautiful eyelit comforter for me. This post took me back :)