If you are looking for an inexpensive, natural dye for clothing or any fabric, try tea. This is a guide about dyeing fabric with tea.
I needed a tan bolero jacket to wear over a dress. I didn't have any extra money to buy one, so I had a white one that I very seldom wore. I took an 8 qt. stainless steel pot, put in 10 iced-tea sized tea bags and water, then let it boil. When it was done boiling, I saturated my white bolero in cold water. I then put it in the tea water and let it boil for about 15 minutes. After 15 min., I took it out and threw it in the washer on the rinse cycle with 1/2 cup of salt to set the dye. It came out beautifully. It was tan and matched my dress perfectly! I've washed it 2 or 3 times, and it's still a light tan color.
By Jackie S.
I have a white floor-length flared skirt (lots of cotton and linen material) that I desperately want to dye. I'm going for a dusky, vintage, brown look, like something out of a thrift store. I thought about tea staining - can you control that much material on a stove top? I've never dyed before, so I am a complete novice. I need all the help I can get!
moondog from Tulsa, OK
I wouldn't think unless the fabric was thin like sheer curtains, (who would have a pot that big?) and what a mess trying to wring it out. Are you sure there isn't a dye from the store that may work? Try a fabric store as they may carry more choices, and then use your washers gentle cycle. Also consider your fabric content. If it's all cotton, maybe try a blend of two colors. If it's got any nylon or polyester in it, it will tint lighter than cotton would. Good luck. (03/08/2006)
You could use your washer on the gentle cycle. Turn your hot water tank up high temporarily, and use lots of tea bags (bought at the dollar store of course). Cut a couple of test pieces of material from the hem or seams of your skirt, to see the time needed for the effect you want.
If you don't want to use your washer, use a large bucket in your laundry tub to soak the skirt, and just use your spin cycle when it is done. Tea dying means the water has to be hot, but it does not have to boil. If you can turn your hot water tank up high temporarily, you can get water that is hot enough. Try the test strips no matter what method you use. I have tea dyed a cotton shirt, and some bone jewelry that was too white. I got a nice antique look. I used a bucket with really hot water and the spin cycle. (03/08/2006)
I dyed an old children's christening gown (about 50 years old) using left over coffee. Placed my gown in the sink, poured coffee over the dress, allowed to soak until desired color achieved, then allowed it to air dry. Will be lighter when dry, but very pretty ivory color achieved with no cost. (03/09/2006)
The key to any dyeing project (whether tea-staining or Rit dye-type product) is to be sure that the fabric is wet before you immerse it in the dye bath and be sure that you use a large enough vessel that the fabric isn't crowded. If you don't follow these two rules, you are likely to get a blotchy, uneven result. I would use a basement sink (if you have one) or the bathtub. (You can probably get the tub clean by using a solution of bleach afterward, especially since you aren't going to be using an intense/dark dye bath.)
I can't tell from your description of cotton and linen material, whether the skirt is a fabric blend or is made up of several different fabrics in panels or patches. If the latter, each fabric is likely to take the dye differently so you may get several different shades/intensities of the color throughout the garment. (03/09/2006)
By Claudia -MD