How To Age Fabric with Tea Staining
Tea/Coffee dye solution for 1 yard fabric
*4 cups water
*1 1/2 cups instant coffee or tea.
*4Tb vanilla extract (optional)
*cinnamon to dust
*1 yard fabric (cotton prints, mulsin, cheesecloth)
In a container large enough to hold your fabric, bring water to a boil, remove from heat and add instant tea/coffee. Add vanilla or cinnamon(optional). I feel the vanilla scent does not stay. Dip the fabric in the dye solution for 20-60 min. You may want to check the fabric every 10 minutes or so, until the color is dark enough. Generally, the color will dry lighter than it looks wet. I like to crumple up the fabric for a mottled effect. If you don't like it, re-crumple and re-dip. If you still don't like it, soak fabric in dye solution or rinse it out with water and start over.
When you like the color, hang fabric to dry. I like to crumple the fabric up as it dries to get variation in color. I have put fabric in the dryer, (in an old pillowcase to protect dryer) to soften the fabric when it gets too stiff. If you want a grubbier look, place your fabric on a foiled baking sheet bake at 225 for a few minutes. Keep an eye on it so it does not burn!! When you like the look, take it out to cool. When the fabric is dry if you want it darker repeat the process.
If the fabric is going to be used for something that is going to be washed, set the color with a mordant. I use 2 Tb alum to about 2 gal water and soak overnight. Then I machine wash the items with my regular laundry. There are other mordants such as ... Recipe 1: soak it in a gallon of cold water to which you have added 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Recipe 2: soak the stained fabric in two parts vinegar, one part water, and two tablespoons salt for 15 minutes, rinse thoroughly, dry in the dryer, and press. Recipe 3: Because vinegar is smelly, return the fabric dyebath, and add 2 t alum, soak for 5 min.
BTW, your hands and nails will turn brown too, you might wear gloves.
Here is a method I haven't tried yet. Massage the coffee grounds into the fabric. This distresses the fabric more. Massage the grounds in circles. Very messy! Damp grounds give more distress than very wet grounds. Raw ground coffee (not made up into coffee at all) gives the darkest distressing. Make a paste of raw coffee and smear it on the fabric. Dry the fabric thoroughly with the grounds still in place. Use a hairdryer, let air dry, or use the microwave (1 min. only on a paper towel; then air-dry flat until completely dry). Brush off excess grounds when fabric is completely dry. Press with a dry iron.
For worn places in your fabric, you can take a sheet of sandpaper and rub worn spots after the fabric is dry.
Supposedly, if you wash your fabric with regular detergent, the tea dye will come out as detergents are designed to remove tea stains. Tea dye is semi-permanent. What this means is that while it will not wash out easily, you can usually remove it with bleach. If you do not use bleach the fabric only lightens. I have not tried using bleach yet. If the fabric is too dark wash the fabric in a gallon of water to which you have added 1 tablespoon of bleach.
Note: I have read that coffee will degrade your fabric less than tea. Tea will degrade it in 30-40 years; coffee-dyed SaveCafabrics will last 75-100 years. This doesn?t matter to us crafters, unless you're thinking about "antiquing" your great grandmothers quilt!
See Tea & Coffee Staining for color suggestions.