We buy new items and want them to look distressed, antique or old. This goes for fabrics as well. Sometimes, it's not a matter of wanting a specialty fabric to look vintage, but rather a desire for the specific shade of beige or off white. It's a color that's not ivory, but a little darker - what do you call tea dyed?
I've had my share of fails with tea dyeing, or color dyeing - period. With a little time, practice and patience, you can approach dyeing specialty fabrics with more confidence if you understand what fabrics absorb tea dye and which ones not to bother with. Before I cover the fabrics that accept tea dye well, let's see how tea dyeing works on the fabrics listed below.
I've set out several common fabric swatches for specialty fabrics (excluding the crochet flower).
An important tip: Use black tea, not flavored teas. Tea bags are preferred, as loose tea will work its way into the fabric you are dyeing. Flavored teas will turn the color of the dye anywhere from a light pink to a dull orange.
See the difference? These pieces were with one tea bag for 30 minutes. I chose to leave it longer because I knew I was working with synthetic fabrics. Synthetics will always take longer to dye because of the plastics in the fabric makeup.
Synthetics are capable of accepting color only if they are a blend: Poly/Cotton, Rayon/Poly/Cotton, etc. The pieces that are synthetic blends (above) are Organza and Stretch Lace. Most lace, tulle, chiffon and organza accept tea dye well.
Sateen (Satin is the name of the weave, not the fabric) is a poly/cotton blend and accepts tea dye well. Sateen also accepts chemical color dye that is used in dyeing shoes and bags.
Silk is a natural fiber and readily accepts color, even when it's blended with other fibers, natural or not. The sample (feather) above is darker than I was going for - understandably so (after leaving all pieces in for 30 minutes).
The two pieces that are cotton in content - I had no doubt they would color, as cotton is highly absorbent.