Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tea Dying

Earlier this week, I shared an outfit I made for Project Run and Play, the "hand-me-down" challenge. It included a dingy pink cardigan that I turned into a lovely oatmeal color... using tea!

I have seen tea dying in the past and loved the vintage look that results from the process. When I decided to give it a go myself, I looked online for tutorials since I had never done this before. However, the information was all over the place and I just decided to do what I do best, just jump in and figure it out as I go.

I'm glad I gave it a go, it was so much easier than it seemed it would be. You basically just need to make some tea, let your clothes sit in for however long you want and then rinse, wash (with detergent and vinegar to set the dye) and that's it. So simple. I'll share my process if anyone else is interested in trying for themselves. My biggest piece of advice is not to over-think it. 

I started with two sweaters. Both had tragic laundry accidents and never fully recovered. The sweater on the left fell victim to brand new black skinny jeans while the one on the right suffered from sharing the same washing water as a red towel. I blame my husband, he did the laundry.

I did wear them in public from time to time, hoping that people would just assume that dingy grey ivory and putrid pink tan were the color they were intended to be. But enough was enough, these sweaters deserved respect. 

I must apologize in advance for any pictures taken in my kitchen. Although I like my kitchen, there is no natural light and the pictures make me cringe a little.

I boiled a big pot of water and put in all the tea bags we had left in the water. I think I had 13 bags. Remember, don't over-think it. Just put in some tea bags.

I dumped the hot tea in the sink and noticed that it wasn't going to be enough to cover both sweaters evenly. So I took those same tea bags and boiled them with some more water. And then I used them a third time in a new pot of water. Finally I had enough to cover both sweaters.

I also added a cup of coffee. No reason except for that I don't like tea. I love coffee and wanted to add a little personal touch. We have a Keurig so I couldn't brew more than a cup at a time. That was all I had the patience for. I'm sure it didn't do any good except for making me happy. 

I kept an eye on the fabrics to make sure they were continuously evenly covered. They took to the dye right away but I really wanted to make sure the difference was visible. I left them in the tea bath for about two hours. Remember, there is no magic formula for how long to leave them in. It will depend on how the fabric takes the dye, how strong the tea is and how dark you want them to end up. After a couple hours, I was pretty convinced I had saturated the sweaters as much as they would hold and I took them out.

I rinsed them out and put them in the wash in cold with detergent and vinegar. The online consensus was one cup of vinegar, but I like to live on the edge and I put two cups in.

After drying them in the dryer, here they are: 

I ended up sewing the lace cardigan down to fit my six year old. Here we are wearing them, being all matchy-matchy. That's what mothers and daughters do, right?

I would like to thank my husband for taking this picture. I would also like to tell him to please make sure there are no vehicles in the background next time. Oh well, this is what I get for stealing all his tea. :)

The absolute best part of tea dying? The cost went towards my grocery budget instead of my sewing budget. Total win!

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