How Do I Tea Dye Curtains?
It’s a snap to squeeze shabby chic-style, rustic or faux-aged curtains to your limited decorating budget with a pot of warm water and a few teabags. Tannins from the tea will dye natural fabrics like cotton, linen, wool and silk, and may work for some artificial fibers. Salvage an old lace tablecloth by “aging” it at a tea bath — then stitch it to a pair of “antique” curtains. Linens or light colored curtains or drapes that have grown somewhat dingy could be revived and repurposed with an afternoon tea party.
Boil enough water to totally submerge the curtains or fabric to be dyed. Add two black teabags a cup of water, and simmer the boiled water with the teabags for about 15 minutes. Tea-dyeing is not an exact science, so don’t hesitate to add more teabags and steep them longer for a darker shade.
Remove the teabags from the pot; compress them dry and discard them. Wet the curtains and squeeze the water out until they’re only moist. Submerge the material from the pot of tea.
Swish the curtains or fabric around from the pot of tea with a long wooden spoon or a pair of heat-proof tongs. You need every component of the material to have equal contact with the tea dye. Moving the fabric gets rid of wrinkles and air bubbles that may cause uneven coloring.
Allow the curtains sit at the tea bath for about one hour, or when you’d like only the merest tip of stain, remove the fabric after 15 minutes or as soon as it’s a bit darker than the shade you want. The material will dry to a lighter shade.
Remove the curtains from the tea bath, using the tongs or wooden spoon — the water may still be very hot. Submerge the dyed material immediately in an ice water bath or rinse it with very cold water. Don’t rub the fabric or rub or rub it too long if you don’t want to fade the colour.
Line-dry the curtains or fabric, or use the dryer. Iron the stuff, if necessary, before usage. The heat helps to place the stain, but regular washing will fade the tea colour. Hand-washing will maintain the tea staining longer — and you can always refresh the dye with another tea bath.