Make Tea Stained Fabric

Over the last couple weeks, I have been preparing a lot of fabric for the workshops I’ll be teaching in the next several months.  I have torn yards and yards of white fabric and handdyed a variety of light colors to use in the Tsukineko inks classes and also made tea colored painted fabric for the Tea & Ephemera classes.

The longer I have been teaching I have found that my students have the best class experience when I bring fabric for them to use. There are two primary reasons for this, one is if the fabric needs to be pre-colored with paint or dye as part of the process, there is just not enough time in a 6 hour workshop to accomplish this. The second reason is, there are a variety of different weaves in pfd cottons and for many of the techniques I teach, a smooth, light weight, tight weave fabric, like cotton sheeting, works best and not everyone has access to buying that locally.

For the Tea & Ephemera class, everyone begins with a peice of mottled brown fabric that has been colored with a diluted textile paint solution.

I like to create a variety of browns, reminiscent of tea stained fabric and used tea bags.

To make this fabric, I mix watery solutions of textile paint, this is a great way to use up the remainders of paint left in the jar. I make several browns, one of my favorite colors is made by combining buttercup yellow and purple, it’s a gorgeous warm ochre brown.

I crumple peices of dry white pfd cotton fabric and dunk it in the paint solution.

 Then I squeeze out the fabric
and lay it on the table, partially crumpled, to dry. As it dries the pigment in the paint is drawn to the creases in the fabric.

After it has dried, I iron the fabric to reveal all the beautiful texture.

I’ve prepared tea fabric for half the classes I am teaching this year, later this week I will do another big batch to finish the rest. Then it’s time to prep for the next class…


22 Responses to “Make Tea Stained Fabric”

  1. Thanks for the peek into how you do it! you rock Judy!

  2. Miss T says:

    Beautiful! May I ask specifically what kind of paint you’re using? Thanks.

  3. Thanks Natalya!

    Miss T, I use setacolor textile paint mostly but will occasionally add some Jacquard as well.

  4. I really like the colour patterns with this method. I’ve had some quite good results with ordinary artists’ acrylics as well as with textile paints. If the colours are diluted enough, it doesn’t seem to change the hand of the fabric, and it doesn’t need heat setting. Such a great idea to provide fabric at the start of a class, too.

  5. WoolenSails says:

    I use rit dyes and make my own tea mud, prefer that to using tea. I think in a class, most would prefer the fabrics ready to use, so they can enjoy the process of creating.


  6. Bee says:

    Thanks for showing us how you get that beautiful texture. I agree that it’s a great idea to have the prepared fabric provided in a class…more time to create!

  7. Erilyn says:

    Cool photo with the crumpled fabric! And to think, this time last year you were packing your bags to come to New Zealand! Got to make some Anzac biscuits, that day is fast approaching!

  8. Hi Erilyn,

    Oh how I wish I were packing my bags to fly to New Zealand right now! Yum I want an Anzac biscuit!

  9. I hope your students appreciate the trouble you take!

    As a student, I like having “the right materials” — so much easier for me when there’s a kit…..

    Thank you.

  10. Lisa says:

    Beautiful fabrics! But, no gloves? Do your hands go brown from the paint?

  11. Hi Lisa, no gloves for me, paint washes off pretty well, it doesn’t stain like dye does. I usually keep a large container close by (you can see the white bucket on the table) for adding more water when mixing paint, so I occasionally will dip my hands in there to give them a rinse if I need to.

  12. I love this idea. I have wondered many times what to do with all my left over paint. The fabric looks great and no wastage. Thanks for the great tip.

  13. Erilyn says:

    Judy! Check out my blog – there’s something there for you 🙂

  14. peggy switser says:

    I am thinking about doing a modern quilt. The quilt has been put together with white and I want it in a very light brown. Do you think this can be done?

    • Hi Peggy,

      It should work just fine, do you want it mottled or even color? Is it just the top at this point or has it been quilted? If its just the top or yardage you should be able to get lovely mottled texture. After immersing the fabric in the paint water, spread it out on a large plastic tarp, don’t wad it into a ball and let it dry, you won’t get all the texture, keep it in one layer on the plastic, scrunch it all over so there’s no flat areas and let it dry. A sunny spot works great.

      Use Pebeo setacolor for better results. I would definitely make some test samples first out of the same fabric to get the color just right. what kind of brown do you want to make, neutral beige? or light golden brown- tobacco brown? If you use velvet brown you will get a very neutral beige, raw sienna goes kind of pinky peach (good for flesh tones), to make a beautiful golden brown I use buttercup and add purple to it, just mix it until you get the desired brown. The fabric will dry lighter because the color will pull to the scrunched areas.

      Let me know how it goes.

  15. peggy switser says:

    The quilt has already been quilted. I would like a dark beige. I was afraid of uneven colors.

  16. peggy says:

    It is the whole quilt. It is put together with 100% cotton. The quilt is blocks of leafs and I think it would look better in beige because of the fall. Also I would need a big container to keep the color even don’t you think.

    • Since it is a whole quilt, its going to be trickier. The more obvious choice would be using fiber reactive dyes, but if you dont know anyone who uses them thats a steep learning curve to pull it off successfully.

      Technically you could make a bucket of diluted paint and immerse the whole quilt in it until it is completely saturated, then lay it out completely flat to dry. As long as its flat it should dry with out mottled color. You can get a 5 gallon paint bucket at the hardware store to use.

  17. […] is made from cut up mixed media samplers from my Tea & Ephemera class, that begins with my faux tea stained fabric made with with textile paint. The samplers include stamping, collaged art papers and tea bags […]

  18. […] is made from cut up mixed media samplers from my Tea & Ephemera class, that begins with my faux tea stained fabric made with with textile paint. The samplers include stamping, collaged art papers and tea bags […]

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