On the £1 rail outside our local charity shop, I spotted this bright orange silk top with a kind of Swiss dot texture to it. I was smitten with the silk and the style, but a little dubious on the colour. The before photo doesn’t quite capture how bright it was. It was REALLY bright. Since my freshly dyed hair can sometimes be on the bright side of ginger (depending if I’m in a red or ginger mood when I buy my hair dye 😉 I thought a bright orange top could potentially be a bit “clashy”! I prefer more earthy tones anyway so I needed to “mute” the orange. Luckily Marie’s post had reminded me of the ageing properties of tea on lace. (Thanks Marie!) Not too much of a leap then, to wonder what it’s effect would be on silk…..
I’d had a box of loose tea at the back of the cupboard for months. (I’d bought it by mistake instead of teabags.) I quickly whipped up a giant teabag using a J Cloth and let it steep for 10 minutes in 5-6 pints of hot water. Submersing the silk blouse in the tea solution, I let it simmer in a big pan on the hob, on a low heat, for about 40 mins, stirring every few minues. Then rinsed in cold water until the water ran clear and hung to dry….
To say I’m impressed with the result is an understatement. The resulting colour is right up my street. Really Autumnal. But beyond that, the even colour result is immaculate! Not a streak, blotch or tide line in sight. Compared to commercial hand dyes I’ve tried in the past it’s massively superior; and it’s just humble old tea!!
Rit and Dylon hand dyes have always turned out uneven for me no matter how much I stir it and keep it moving. When you consider the price of a commercial hand dye is £4-6, and that a pack of 80 Tesco Everyday Value teabags is 27p, well, nuff said! Plus, it’s non toxic so environmentally friendly AND gentle on the fabric.
Of course tea provides a limited colour palette of varying shades of, erm, tea colour, when using it on white/light coloured cloth. But if the garment has a strong base colour, like mine, it’s a great way of achieving a more muted shade and changing up the look a bit.
This process will work on any natural fibre. Silk, cotton, wool etc. I’d imagine with wool though, you’d have to be careful to let the solution cool a little as too much sudden heat on pure wool can cause it to felt.
Totally in love with tea dyeing now though AND it’s inspired me to experiment with a few more “store cupboard dyes” on some other garments. Coming soon!