Tea Dyed Fabrics

Tea Dyed Fabrics

By Brenda Hyde

We all have napkins, tablecloths or linens that started out white and ended up stained. One option is to tea dye the fabric! You can embellish any of the above with antique lace or new ivory colored lace. Tablecloths can be turned into pillowcases, or smaller tablecloths for end tables, dressers and other surfaces needing some accent. You can tea dye patterned fabrics also to give them a vintage look.

It is recommended that you use a pan and utensil just for dying. You can usually pick up an older pan, 16 quart works well, at a thrift store or garage sale. I keep an old pan on hand for messy jobs.

Tea Dye Directions

You will need:

Stainless steel 16 quart pot

3 gallons tap water

1 yard cotton or linen fabric

8 ounces loose black tea

cheesecloth or muslin and kitchen string



mild detergent

Fill sink with cold water and soak your fabric completely. Bring 3 gallons of water to a boil in your pan. Tie the tea in a square piece of muslin (or cheesecloth) tightly with kitchen string. Add to the boiling water and continue to boil for at least 30 minutes. The longer you boil the darker the dye; so go an hour if you can. Remove the tea bag, and use strainer to grab bits of loose tea if necessary.

Wring out your wet fabric, and add to the pot of tea water. Turn off the heat and allow it to steep for several hours or overnight, stirring occasionally to dye evenly. Remember when checking the color that it seems darker when wet. When the fabric has reached the color you like, rinse it under cold water until the water runs clear, then gently wash with the mild detergent and rinse again. Wring out the fabric and hang or place on an old clean towel to dry.

One caution, if you are using expensive fabric or something that is dear to you, be sure to experiment with something else first! You can also test a swatch of the fabric first before doing the entire piece.


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