Tea Dying Fabric – How I achieve a vintage antiqued fabric look in my quilts

hell are you guys Lisa here I absolutely love using tea stain and coffee stain fabrics and my quilts and quilting projects today I thought I would show you how I T stain my fabrics getting them ready for a project that I have coming up one thing is for sure if you have ever looked up how to tease stain or coffee stain your fabrics you've come across a multiple array of different tutorials well today I just thought I would show you the process that works for me and my fabrics and it's very very simple so let's go over the materials that I use to t stain my fabrics you here we have the different materials that I'm going to be using in this tea staining process I have some different cotton material you can t stain or coffee stain any type of natural fiber like your cotton silk linen and wool it does not however work very well with your synthetic materials like polyester I have a large Basin that we're going to use at the end to rinse our fabrics I have white distilled vinegar table salt and tea today we're using tea you could also do this process with coffee and it gives it a slightly different look what I like to say is this is a totally creative process so the amount of tea versus water can totally be up to you and you can get different results each and every time your tea staining your fabrics let's go ahead and get started alright we are ready to get started I just brought over my pot of boiling water I have 12 cups of water in this pot and my general rule for salt versus water is for every four cups of water that you are using to tea stained with use two tablespoons of salt so I'm going to add my salt now while the water is nice and hot and I'm going to add my tea well let's give this a stir real quick and does all of that both in there and then I'm going to drop my tea bags in I like to usually steep my tea for about 15 minutes and at the 15 minute mark I will come in and check to see how dark the water has gotten again this is a totally creative process so you might want your tea to be lighter or maybe even a darker so if that's the case you would take your tea out sooner or later or after 15 minutes we're going to go ahead and start waiting and I will come back and show you our fabric going into the water 15 minutes is up and I have checked how dark my tea is and I'm very happy with this tea at 15 minutes so I'm going to go ahead and take the tea bags out keep that from dripping everywhere and we're ready to start dunking our fabrics in I have an assortment of different cotton fabrics that I went to tea stain you can t stain solids and prints and the prints are pretty all on their own however when you tease stain them they get a very vintage antique color to them and the brightness of the colors sort of dulls a little bit and I really like that in some of my projects so we're going to go ahead and start submerging our fabrics into the tea my water is still fairly hot you could wait for this to cool down if you'd like I go ahead and just submerge my fabrics all the way down into the tea and you can stir that up and make sure that the tea penetrates all the fibers of the fabric this one here is might be hard to see but it is a like a white on white fabric it's got little flowers printed onto the fabric I have a feeling that the printed white flowers will show up pretty bright when the background is stained with the tea so we'll see how that turns out I'm going to add that in and this is just a solid white colored cotton or this was now this is more of a natural solid color so it's not as bright as the white push all of that around make room up for a couple more pieces but in this one we're gonna fit all this in here you guys one thing is for sure I did not get AIDS in my science class I got AIDS in my art classes but certainly you do not have to be an artist to do this I'm going to squish that around and make room for one more piece of white fabric again this is a white on white you probably cannot see the print on this fabric but I guarantee you you will after it's tea stains back to mentioning the creative process of this and also mentioning that I'm not a scientist I know that the salt helps set the tea and of the fabrics for in the fibers of the fabric which makes the tea actually die the material and so when you wash your projects after this the tea should not wash out it should retain the color we're also going to colorfast it in the rinse cycle by using the vinegar so I'm not sure how the salt and the vinegar actually works to set the tea in the fabric I just know that it does all right we're gonna let that sit for a few minutes again the time that I let this sit really depends on the look that you're going for you could take this out probably now and you get a very light tea standing on your fabrics and you can let this sit one thing I would note is that when you first take it out it's going to appear darker then it's actually going to be when it's dry so keep that in mind when you're removing your fabric that it it probably will dry a tad bit lighter than what it actually appears while it's wet when I let this sit for just a few minutes and we're gonna take this out and put these fabrics in all right I am pulling out all of my white fabrics this set for about 15 minutes maybe a little less closer to like 12 minutes and you can see everything is just sitting in this Basin I'm gonna rinse everything off at one time so I'm just gonna set that off to the side while we put our red fabrics in I probably could have done all of this together but I was running out of space in my little pot also I'm not really sure if this rig is going to bleed at all with that hot hot water so I'd rather do these separately I might even get a tinge of pink if these darker Reds bleed we'll see it is all an experiment put that one down in and this last one I'm excited to see how this pink one turns out before I started any of this I went ahead and cut off pieces of each one of these fabrics so at the end of this video we're going to take a look and see the difference between the original piece and what it looks like after we're done with the tea staining again I'm just gonna let this sit and stain away for about 15 minutes I'll check and see what it looks like after that it has been about 15 minutes for these fabrics I'm gonna go ahead and scoop them out I know that the light pink one this one has changed and the background for this one has changed he another two I'm not quite sure if we'll be able to tell the difference after the tea standing but we'll see and now I'm just going to take this to the seat and do a quick word rinse with cold water nothing else we're just rinsing all of the tea out and we're going to get ready to set these fabrics with some water and vinegar so let me go rinse these out and we'll be right back okay again I just rinsed my fabrics with cold water and reamed the water out I have four quarts of cold water here it's just the water and to the water I'm going to add some white distilled vinegar I'm adding half a cup again I don't know the science as to why this actually sits the color in I just know that it works at this point we're just going to stir that up a little bit and we're just adding our fabrics follow into this bath of water and vinegar and we're going to let this sit for about ten minutes oh that's cold I'm going to make sure that the water and vinegar solution penetrates all of your material and that is everything and now we're just waiting for ten minutes to go by ten minutes have gone by we're ready to go ahead and wring out our fabrics let's like to try to get the majority of the water out at this point you could lay your fabrics out in the Sun it is a warm sunny day for you guys you could air dry your fabrics in the house or you can do what I like to do I'm just going to take these fabrics to the dryer I'm going to put them in the dryer all by themselves and I'm going to dry them until they get just barely damp I'm not going to dry them completely dry in the dryer the next stage is we're going to actually heats it and finish drying everything with the iron so I will wring these out I'm going to dry them and we're going to meet back in the shop I'm going to show you how to iron everything nice and flat while they're still damp and that also helps to heat set your colors into your material and we're going to do a quick comparison update before and after of each one of these fabrics let's go okie-dokie you guys I left my fabrics in the dryer for about ten minutes these were the only things in the dryer and so they dried pretty quickly however they are still fairly damp and I like to do this because I heat set my fabrics with a very hot iron keep in mind if you are using something other than cotton like a silk or wool you'll want to adjust your iron to the correct setting so that you do not burn your materials again it is fairly damp I like to go ahead and place my fabrics the right side down and I'm just using an old towel so that if there is any tea still remaining in this fabric it doesn't stain my pressing board sort of flat and all the wrinkles out with your hand and next we're going to dry it with an iron make sure your iron is nice and clean because if you have any of the gunky stuff on your pressing surface of the iron it could transfer and stain the fabrics that you are trying to make all nice and pretty at this point we are just pressing all the wrinkles out and drying this fabric the rest of the way and again the heat from the iron really sets in at the color from the tea and this is not a long process at this point the fabric was about 3/4 of the way dry so it's not going to take a long time to finish drying that fabric out let's get that down you'll see from this coloration and that what is dry and what is still wet so you can see it does not take that long to finish drying and heat setting your fabric and then once you're ready to work with this everything is nice and pressed and ready to go I'm not really sure if I mentioned in the beginning of this video I did not pre wash any of these fabrics I just got back from the fabric store from buying these fabrics and went straight into tea staining you could pre wash your fabrics I'm not a huge fan of pre washing anything so that is totally up to you I'm going to show you the results these will be my results after not pre-washing I'm for the most part very unconventional when it comes to anything that I do in the arts I only like to follow a few select rules just like the outer fabric is dry and nice and flat and pressed and so this is ready to be worked with I'm going to go ahead and press and dry all of these materials and then I'm going to do a slideshow of an original piece that has not been tea stained up against our tea stained fabrics from today and you can see the slight difference I'm thinking with this one there might not be a huge difference we'll take a look and see but thank you guys for watching go ahead and let see my result photos and I think I will add a couple of photos of some tea staining that I did to some materials on a crazy quilt made with wedding dresses that I'm working on in my studio I'll add some of those photos at the end so you can see how those results turned out same process and you can check those results out thank you guys for watching if you have any questions like always you can leave them in the comments section or jump over to Facebook and join me there and I hope you guys have a fantastic week you


  1. Gerri T

    Thank you so much Lisa… I'm repairing my friend's older quilt and needed an ecru fabric for the back and thought I'd try this on some solid white. I did three tests at 5, 10 and 15 min and the 5 minute was all I needed and it matches perfectly!!! Great tutorial and very easy technique. 5 stars for you!!

  2. Tammy Eaton

    A textile artist on a channel called Colouricious Holidays said the vinegar and salt make the water INHOSPITABLE to the dye so the dye WANTS to gravitate toward the material AND STAYS there.

  3. Taylor Inc.

    interesting video and informative, for me personally it is a bit too much work/hassle but it was presented nicely so whoever does enjoy doing this knows how to. in any case thank you for sharing and have a nice day.

  4. Susan Bunts Wachtel

    Thank you Lisa…your video was very helpful. It's been a few years since I've tea dyed fabric so I needed a refresher. Quick questions, what was the ratio of salt to the water in the dying process? What was the ratio of vinegar to water to set the colors? Thank you for your video.

  5. Shannon Finn

    Hi Lisa. I am a nurse and noted your dressing right away. Glad it is healed. Question…I would like a more sweded or "tie dyed" effect with both light and dark staining. What do you suggest?. God bless and I love your laugh too.

  6. Rebecca Treeseed

    I like how they turned out. I like softer colors, and many fabrics are glaring. I received about 8 bins of fabric (riches!) free… but would like to antique some of them. This is just the tone I prefer for some projects. Thank you.
    New Subscriber.

  7. Mary Redington

    Wow Thank you I always thought this was so hard and messy!!! You have taught me differently. Do you have a video on the ink spray too? Will definitely be watching you on a regular basis Thank you

  8. Amanda Manning

    I'm making a woven baby wrap so I have 4 yards of linen fabric. I don't have a pot big enough, could I use like a Home Depot bucket instead?

  9. Jiffie Mail

    Thank you for this great tutorial! All the info I've been looking for. And Thank You for being prepared and to the point. Refreshing! Btw, this is the first of your videos I've watched. I'll be back 🙂 Thanks, again!

  10. pam bradshaw

    Thanks Lisa. Not at all hard but time consuming. I think these turned out pretty. I have used this process with tea before for cross stitch fabric years ago. A friend of mine uses coffee and loves the results better than when she used tea. She gets a richer color for the same amount of time and effort.
    Depends on how much richer/darker you want your fabric. Love all your videos. I’m new on your channel and subscribed so I don’t miss anything. Hugs! 💝💝💝
    PS – Have you tried cotton canvas?

  11. Jo Ann McCraw

    Lisa, I have never see tea dying fabric before … love your results! The wedding material at the end really looks great, too. What type of fabric was it? Now I have a use for some old tea bags that I've kept meaning to throw away. I didn't waste the money for them after all. LOL

  12. Sandy Richmond

    This will be a lot cheaper than buying antique spray. I didn’t do the salt and vinegar when I tried it so it didn’t look good thus I bought that pricey spray. Please continue with your videos I love how easy and fun you make the projects. It’s almost like playtime

  13. Cheryl Taylor

    I really like the "vintage" look it gives the material. Thanks for sharing, Nita. Always nice to learn these tricks for other folks!

  14. Brenda Newsome

    Are you saying that it will never wash back out? That I can cut it, sew it and quilt it and it will stay the same? This is an awesome idea. Thanks for sharing…

  15. Deb Deb

    Sorry if I missed this but is it better to pre wash the material before hand. I recently started following your channel and I have learned a lot. Informative and enjoyable. Thank you!


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