How to tea dye lace

Dear Linda;

I want to tea-dye some lace. Can you help?


Hi Sue!

Sure I can! Here’s what I do. Boil a gallon of water with 4-6 teabags in it. English tea, black tea and Orange Pekoe Black work best. Herbal teas don’t work well at all. If any of the teabags pop, strain it before putting your fabric or lace in it.

Wet the fabric, lace or item that you want to dye before plunging it into the hot tea. If the item may shrink, cool the tea a bit first. Check the item often so you don’t dye it too dark a color. If you dye it too dark and need to bleach it, you risk the bleach giving it a yellowish hue.

Keep in mind, though, that tea contains trace quantities of tannic acid, which (though edible) may break down the fibres of your fabric or lace over time. If you’re planning on an heirloom garment that’s supposed to last five generations, tea probably isn’t the best choice. I do have a tea dyed table runner that’s been fine for over 15 years — but that’s hardly a generational piece.

If you’re looking to dye a garment that you want to stand the test of time, it might be best to use a good quality fabric dye in a tan or ecru shade and test with fabric scraps to be sure you have the right shade.

To help any dye hold better and run less, add a dollop of vinegar to cold water and dunk the dyed piece into the vinegar mixture after you’ve rinsed out the majority of the dye.

; )

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