Thursday, November 8, 2012

on Tea Dyeing.

Something I've wanted to do for a long time is dye fabric. I've bought some dyes - some RIT dyes, some iDyes - and hoarded them for a few months while waiting for the perfect opportunity to try them out. I also live in an apartment, so I have to be extra careful not to dye anything that isn't mine (particularly the carpet, which is off-white).

A few months ago, I picked up the Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery's "Dessert of the Month Club". Reading the directions, I immediately went out and purchased the darkest, 14 count Aida I could find - which also happened to be sparkly. I thought it would be just dark enough.

Alas! This was not the case. Maybe the filter makes it look darker here, but on some of the desserts - especially that truffle at top - it made it difficult to see. So, I decided, I'd get a darker version next time. 

When I bought the fruit of the month club, I went a different route - one I'd read about before, recommended in the directions. Tea-Dyeing! It seemed simple enough, so I thought I'd give it a try.

What I didn't realize is how much I'd love it. After using a black tea - namely Earl Grey - on an oatmeal colored Aida, my fabric came out darker. The colors were more vibrant! 

It definitely helped. I recently purchased the Kawaii Winter sampler and double-dyed the fabric for this one (as you read about in the last few posts). I'm happy to say I've started on my sampler - although I've no pictures yet! - and I love the result.

So here's some quick instructions on tea-dyeing and a few pointers that might help you out if you decide to go the same route!

First, decide what kind of color you're looking for as a result. If you want something brown, you need to find a black tea. Earl Grey and Irish Breakfast work great for this. 

If you're looking for a pinkish/purple, go for an herbal tea with berry flavors. True Blueberry from Bigelow will give you a great purple-ish pink, as will Red Raspberry. (The Orange Blossom Hibiscus pictured below gave off a lighter color than the two mentioned previously, but it was still a pinkish-brown).

Green teas tend to give off a yellowish-green tint; I've used a plain Green Tea, a Chamomile, and others, and usually the result is a slightly darker, yellowish tint that ages your fabric.

I read about this process before I began it myself, and what I saw recommended here on was that you use 4 cups of water for every yard of fabric. I used mostly scraps and long pieces of different fabric, so I never measured any as a straight yard. What I did do, however, is use about six cups of water in the end; this gave me enough water to cover my fabric. 

I used 14 tea bags in each batch; since the purpose is for dyeing, I wanted to make sure I had a good, strong color as a result. You could use more or less if you wanted!

Bringing the water to a boil, I threw the tea-bags in.

I steeped my tea for about thirty minutes; this way I really reaped all the color from the bags.

In the meantime, I rinsed all of my fabric with cold water and let it sit. IMPORTANT: polyesters and non-natural fabrics will not dye. It'll run right out! Make sure you're using 100% cotton. I used a variety of fabrics, even some doilies. For me, the goal was both to experiment and use fabrics I hadn't thought of using in other projects.

 If you're looking for a patterned fabric, they have white-on-white fabrics at Hobby Lobby and Joann's that make for a beautiful result! Polka dots, stripes, and even some smaller prints. 

When you've steeped your tea, remove the tea-bags. I like to press the remaining tea out of the tea-bags; I do the same thing when I drink tea, but you don't necessarily have to. I poured all of my tea into a bowl:

(These were from the Lipton Herbal Tea. The tea bags were like plastic!)

Squeezing all of the remaining water from your fabric, submerge it in the tea. I made the mistake this last time of leaving the fabric in a stationary position, folded over, and the result was an uneven finish. It's better to move it around occasionally so that the finished product is a smooth dye.

How long to leave it in? I've left it in for an hour to two hours and still achieved a good, dyed result. For my Aida cloth, I wanted it to be darker, so I left it for nearly 11 hours, and the color was richer. Ultimately, it's up to you! 

When you're done dyeing, pour the tea out and rinse the fabric with cool water. Yes, this will make the result lighter; so will drying it. If I wasn't pleased with the richness of the dye, I dyed it again. You can alternately leave the tea in your bowl until you see how deeply your fabric has dyed.

I tumble dry mine on high heat; the result has always been beautiful! On the RedDawn page, it also offers the alternative of nearly drying it and then ironing it on a high setting. Ultimately what you're doing is setting the dye, so it's a step you don't want to skip.

Voila! The finished product. On the left is the fabric dyed with Lipton's Orange Hibiscus Herbal Tea; a light, red-pink color. On the right is the tea dyed with Morning Thunder by Celestial! In the middle are the fabrics I dyed from for comparison.

Great things about this process:

1. Naturally dyeing a product you may have on hand for little cost!

2. There may be a few tea splashes here and there, but there's little to no mess!

3. Your house will smell AWESOME.

Things that maybe aren't so great?:

1. These dyes don't come in "rainbow", so no rich greens, or blues.

2. Kind of time consuming? (But not any more so than dyeing with RIT dye.)

I'm currently making a quilt out of these fabrics, pairing them with shirtings and plaids I have in my stash. I'll post the result when I'm done. That said, I haven't washed these fabrics multiple times and don't know how well those colors hold up after multiple washings! Perhaps if I end up washing it a bunch I'll add on to this post :) 

You can e-mail me here with any questions, or post on this page!

My next experiment? After the RIT Dye, I want to dye with plants!

Later Days!

- Kait

Thursday, November 1, 2012

my vacation: come and gone!

When I say "vacation," I typically mean a day or two that I take off work and sit and home. I usually also pretend like I'm somewhere else so I won't be asked to do anything.

Yes, I'm that lazy.

As far as vacations go, this one was pretty sweet. Although my weekend started off with a wedding:

(Sorry for the blurry pic, my hands shake a lot!)

It was really nice and simple, but after about four hours of being outside in 50 degree weather, one gets a little cold! And it threw my sinuses all out of whack...

We traveled to Todd Mission, TX, the next day for the Renaissance Faire! Heading out early was best, and we got there plenty early. After a few hours of walking around, eating - CHEESECAKE ON A STICK, YA'LL - buying tiny pirate ships - and more eating - we headed home, happy and sated.

I wish I'd gotten more pictures than just those of my brothers and their swords!

And of us being (very) silly.

They had crossbows this year! If I had ANY use for one, I'd buy one. But I don't, so that idea was out...

We celebrated my youngest brother's 19th birthday! We normally don't eat cake (he's a bigger fan of pumpkin pie) but our neighbor was kind enough to bake him this cake as a surprise! What a lucky young adult :)

I spent my remaining two days doing the funnest things I know: playing with my puppy and SEWING.

(she's vicious, this one)

(but only until she wants to snuggle)
(she also got a new collar, and she likes it a lot better) (I think)

A morning trip to Joann's yielded some goodies: embroidery floss for my soon-to-be Kawaii Winter Sampler (we got the first patterns today! I AM SO PSYCHED YOU HAVE NO IDEA).

 and some yarn! After years of deeming it an activity I have no ability to do, I've decided to take up knitting. Mostly it's just been confusing for me, directions wise, but I'm sure if I give it another go I'll get it for sure! I've been seeing too many cowls and socks and awesome scarves NOT to try!

I'm a huge Harry Potter fan. Have you guys seen the "Ron Weasley" blanket making the rounds on Pinterest? I thought about making one as-is, so I picked up these flannels and shirting fabrics...

But then I picked up some tea-dyed fabrics...

And now I'm thinking about a Weasley blanket with sawtooth stars! That fabric on top is a really nice fabric to dye, by the way - it's a solid stripe, but I think it would be really pretty with colored dye, so I've got a few yards stashed away. I picked it up at Hobby Lobby - I think they've got it at both Webster/Clear Lake area stores.

I also went by Target, and that's when I saw this beauty:

I couldn't NOT get it. I walked around the store, but ultimately I had to go back. It was calling me! As a Charlie Harper fan, it was a MUST. I can't wait to get started - I missed out on their paint by number they had earlier, so I jumped on this chance! 

That's all for now! I'm hoping to get a little further on that baby quilt this weekend - I might tea-dye a little fabric tonight, cut out some more Weasley squares! You never know. It's Biker Rally down here this weekend, so I'm staying inside - traffic's too bad!

I don't think this little doll will mind if I do :)

Later days!

- Kait