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How To Tea-Dye Cross Stitch Fabric

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Photo © 2009 Connie G. Barwick, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Non-Dyed Fabric (left) and Tea-Dyed Fabric (right)

Photo © Connie G. Barwick, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Tea-Dyed fabric has long been popular with Cross Stitchers. Tea-dyed fabric enables stitchers to create a sampler with an aged look. It also smells great!

Use brewed tea to soak fabric, or produce a marbled effect with wet tea bags.

To complete this project you will need:
  • natural-fiber fabric
  • brewed tea or wet tea bags
  • small basin
  • white paper towels
  • white vinegar
  • water
If you are using hot tea, take the necessary safety precautions.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Varies

Here's How:

  1. Brew the tea. I used Vanilla Chai tea (it smelled lovely, but I didn't care for the taste). Different types of teas will produce different colors, so you may want to try some test swatches of fabric before you commit.
  2. Dilute the tea with water as needed to completely submerge the fabric you are dyeing in the basin. (Instructions for the tea-bag dyeing process begin in step 6.)
  3. Dampen the fabric and completely submerge it in the tea solution. The longer you soak the fabric, the deeper the color will become. I soaked my fabric for an hour, checking it from time-to-time to see how the color was developing.
  4. After the fabric has reached the desired hue, remove it from the tea-solution and rinse it in a weak solution of vinegar and water to help set the dye.
  5. Dry the fabric flat on a pad of white paper towels. Iron it before it is completely dry to remove wrinkles.
  6. If you are using wet tea bags to change the color of your Cross Stitch fabric, then begin by soaking the bags or use previously brewed tea bags. I used six small tea bags for my project.
  7. Protect your working surface with cardboard or wax paper, if needed. Make a pad of white paper towels. Dampen the fabric and lay it flat on the pad of paper towels.
  8. Press the cooled tea bags in a random manner across the fabric. I used several tea bags, but you could also soak the bag between pressings to add more liquid.
  9. Once you have created the marbled look you want, rinse the fabric in a weak vinegar solution to help set the dye.
  10. Dry the fabric flat on a clean pad of white paper towels. If wrinkled, iron before completely dry.
  11. Once your fabric has dried, it is ready for your stitching project!

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