Wednesday, January 16, 2013

DIY: Tea Dyeing Silk

On the £1 rail outside our local charity shop, I spotted this bright orange silk top with a kind of Swiss dot texture to it. I was smitten with the silk and the style, but a little dubious on the colour. The before photo doesn't quite capture how bright it was. It was REALLY bright. Since my freshly dyed hair can sometimes be on the bright side of ginger (depending if I'm in a red or ginger mood when I buy my hair dye ;) I thought a bright orange top could potentially be a bit "clashy"! I prefer more earthy tones anyway so I needed to "mute" the orange. Luckily Marie's post had reminded me of the ageing properties of tea on lace. (Thanks Marie!) Not too much of a leap then, to wonder what it's effect would be on silk.....

I'd had a box of loose tea at the back of the cupboard for months. (I'd bought it by mistake instead of teabags.) I quickly whipped up a giant teabag using a J Cloth and let it steep for 10 minutes in 5-6 pints of hot water. Submersing the silk blouse in the tea solution, I let it simmer in a big pan on the hob, on a low heat, for about 40 mins, stirring every few minues. Then rinsed in cold water until the water ran clear and hung to dry....

To say I'm impressed with the result is an understatement. The resulting colour is right up my street. Really Autumnal. But beyond that, the even colour result is immaculate! Not a streak, blotch or tide line in sight. Compared to commercial hand dyes I've tried in the past it's massively superior; and it's just humble old tea!!
Rit and Dylon hand dyes have always turned out uneven for me no matter how much I stir it and keep it moving. When you consider the price of a commercial hand dye is £4-6, and that a pack of 80 Tesco Everyday Value teabags is 27p, well, nuff said! Plus, it's non toxic so environmentally friendly AND gentle on the fabric.
Of course tea provides a limited colour palette of varying shades of, erm, tea colour, when using it on white/light coloured cloth. But if the garment has a strong base colour, like mine, it's a great way of achieving a more muted shade and changing up the look a bit.
This process will work on any natural fibre. Silk, cotton, wool etc. I'd imagine with wool though, you'd have to be careful to let the solution cool a little as too much sudden heat on pure wool can cause it to felt.
Totally in love with tea dyeing now though AND it's inspired me to experiment with a few more "store cupboard dyes" on some other garments. Coming soon!



18 comments :

  1. Perfect result! The top itself looks fab, and the new colour is so warm and much more you :-)

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    1. Thanks Sarah! I prefer to keep the bright orange look confined to my hair, lol!
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  2. I decided a few months ago that i should stop wearing white because it doesn't suit me (I didn't even realise that was possible), and I have at least two brightly coloured tops that I like too much to get rid of, so you've inspired me to try this on a few things!

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    1. I'm the same Gwenan. White just washes me out. You'll have to let me know how your tops turn out!
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  3. Katy (Ioftheneedle)16 January 2013 at 05:42

    what a great inspiring post! x

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  4. Very clever, I like the more muted colour, it's a bit more subtle. I've never tried dying fabric with tea but I've been wondering how it stands up the the wash and if it stays dyed or washes out. I'd love to know how your top fares!

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    1. Well, from what I've read it is pretty much permanent. It may fade a little I guess, but since it's silk I'll only be hand washing anyway so that should help preserve it I guess. I'll let you know!
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  5. What a great makeover :) There's been some tea-dyeing experiments on IG lately. And it's actually reminded me that I've got some orange cotton that I want to use in a quilt but it's brighter than I remember. A quick soak in some tea might solve that problem! Thanks for the inspiration Portia x

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    1. Hey Sonia
      What's IG? I'm feeling the urge to do a quilt too. Must be the freezing weather!
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    2. IG is Instagram - slightly addictive but good fun, like a pictorial Facebook. You must quilt - would love to see what you made :) x

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  6. This is lovely, but doesn't it just wash out? I've never thought of tea as being a stain that would "fix"!

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    1. I think the key word is "stain". ie something that you have to purposefully try to get out. Since it's silk and will only be handwashed, from what I've read, it should be ok. (Hopefully!)
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  7. Oooh what a delicious colour it has turned out. I am a huge fan of tea dyeing also. Tumeric is a good one too - but of course it is more of a yellow than a brown. But maybe in the interests of store cupboard science?

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    1. Maryanne! You read my mind! I use turmeric alot in my homemade curries and I figure if it can stain my pans and utensils, then silk should just suck it up! I'm just waiting to find the perfect silk top to try it on. Also fancy trying beetroot and onion skins. But turmeric will defo be showing up in a post very soon!
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  8. Brilliant idea, and what beautiful results!

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  9. I have dog urine stains on a large, expensive, hand made, silk carpet. its been sitting in a store room for 10 years (very old stains). I have tried everything to remove the stains to no avail. I am thinking of daubing dappled tea stains over the affected area to disguise the stains. What do you think?

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    1. Weeeeelll...I'd be mildly scared if the item is really expensive! But I'd probably get over that by asking myself if it would ever be used ever again in it's current state. Probably not by the sounds of it! It would probably work to disguise the stains if you had a strong enough tea solution and were going for a dappled, rather than even colour result. I'm just trying to think how you'd rinse the tea solution out afterwards....might involve a good soaking involving a hose and a washing line.....;)
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