Coffee Tea Dying

Last week I showed this project..it was #5 for the Dirty Dozen challenge.

After some digging and sorting, I realized that the background is to light.  The background has the stitching on it and the wool pieces around it are intended to be fabrics for the sheep. 
There is no way the sheep will show up…so…I needed to coffee/tea dye the fabric.  A blog reader asked if I would show how I did that process…so here goes…
I start out with making coffee…We have a Mr. Coffee and I make a 12 cups strong coffee batch.  Then I grab three of these.

I pop them into the bottom of a big pan and pour the brewed coffee in on top of the bags.


I stir it….

and then let it cool a bit.  Then, it’s time to dip the fabric in.

I plunged it in and out several times.  I lifted it and the dye wasn’t, even- so, dipped again and again.

Then I let it hang to dry.  I was going for a darker dye this time.  I really wanted a good contrast between the background and the sheep.  If I wanted a lighter color I would have only made weak coffee and might have watered that down.

I don’t like the crinkled lines through the piece so I don’t bake it in the oven.  Some people do crinkle the piece and then bake it in the oven at 200 degrees until it’s dry.  That’s not for me.

So here it is after it dried….

I made a mistake though…I laid it over the drying rack and there is bit of line that is slightly darker.  Can you see it?  It’s right by the “w” of worketh.

I don’t know if I just notice it because the fold line is still there and after a good press it will go away or if it’s slightly darker there.  Either way, I think I’m going to with one more dunk in the coffee tea dye.  It’s okay as is, but I think I’ll be happier with one more dunk.

In general, if you’re dying this way, I strongly suggest not just using coffee.  I think the tea makes the color warmer.

So…I hope that answers the questions on how I coffee tea dye. It really isn’t hard…and it’s not something you need to overthink.  Some of you might remember when Kramer was in the hospital and I coffee tea-dyed cross-stitch fabric in the waiting room.  If you missed that, read about it HERE.

If you haven’t tried dying before and are hesitant to do it but want to, here is my suggestion.  Take a piece of muslin that you don’t care about and try.  You can use several different methods and try them all on the cheap muslin and then you aren’t out much money if you don’t like some of the results.

If you have any other questions, as always, leave them in the comment section.  I read all of the comments and I thank you so much for leaving them.

12 thoughts on “Coffee Tea Dying

  1. Cody

    Do you do any type of rinsing when you are done or once you get to the color that you like, that’s it?

  2. brenda

    thank you. i never thought about using both. i just kept adding or subtracting how much coffee i used and not quite satisfied. i will try this combo for sure. thanks

  3. JennyM

    Quite interested in seeing how you dyed your fabric. Do the tea bags have black or green tea leaves? Your sheep will contrast so well with the darker background, great way to achieve that look!

  4. Peggy

    I’ve had good luck dying counted cross stitch fabric with: beet water (red – cook fresh beets, save water and do as Jo did above until desired color achieved, color is subtle)…onion skins will work, I dyed ash strips years ago to make a woven basket for a class I was taking…used the onion skins on some, and black walnut husks to do a few others (very messy, wouldn’t do it again). Tea and coffee would be the best way to go – will have to give it a try.

  5. Anita B

    Thank you for the tutorial. I have done it with muslin for embroidery work. I love the look if I am using black perle cotton.

  6. Carla

    Trying some dying techniques is yet another thing on my “want to try” list…. honestly, I think my list could never end lol!

  7. Pat

    Thanks for demonstrating your method of coffee/tea dyeing. I am interested to know what your “gadget “is on your Phaff machine when you and Kelli were making masks. It has the diagonal lines to guide you for sewing on an angle.

  8. Judith Fairchild

    What a good way to play with colors. Peggy’s ideas are good too. I remember my momma using onion skins to get a nice creamy color. If I remember right the color didn’t fade.
    Jo do you set the dye with nearly boiling water. Or just the hot coffee and tea?

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