Experiments in Tea Dying

Dried tea dye, originally uploaded by ivoryblushroses.

While putting together some bases for Jude's Spirit Cloth class last week, I became frustrated with my selection of fabrics and wanted something that was a little more organic than the quilting cottons that comprise the majority of my fabric stash. I'd seen some lovely tea dyed fabric somewhere and decided to try my hand at dying some small squares. After wetting the fabric, I sprinkled it with loose tea leaves and dried rose petals. Wanting an uneven pattern rather than a solid color, I scrunched it up in a bowl, added a little water and left it on the counter to dry while I was in Colorado. This is how it looked when I got back.

Tea Dye after rinsing
This morning, I rinsed it out and this is the result. I do like the way it came out. Since then, I've read that the tannins in the tea can eventually cause the fabric to rot away, so this may not be the best idea for dying fabric.

Tea and icing color dyes
I also had tried dying some small squares of muslin with Wilton Icing colors as well as green tea. These I let sit with the dye for an hour or so and then rinsed them out. The green tea resulted in a rather odd greenish tan color that almost doesn't look dyed. The icing colors really washed out of the fabric once rinsed. I suspect that mordanting the cotton with alum would have resulted in better colors with these, but apparently I had used all of mine! The blue and green colors disappeared almost entirely, but the rose colors became a brighter pink.

Dying results
All together, I think the fabrics do give me something to work with and will mix well with other fabrics.

Spirit Cloth Class - Base
For Jude's class, I've been experimenting with different bases. I love the diamond in the square base, so tried a couple different versions. I also tried one in a "landscape" manner and another woven piece. I do love those woven pieces!

What If components
Jude also recommends combining different components. At first, I didn't think I had any, but then I realized I have a whole bag of little bits of crazy quilting. Some were things I started that never went any further, others were round robin pieces that I can't decide what to do with. What if I use bits of these to grow stories on the different bases?

Tomorrow I hope to show you a finished pansy block for a round robin and a bit more work on the bunny bag!


Anonymous said…
I think these all turned out sooo interesting. I know there is something you can wash your fabric in to stop the bleach process, I wonder if it would work for the tea. I can't remember the remedy but I bet the quilt shops know for sure. Mary:)
Laurie said…
It seems to me that vinegar in the dye helps set it. Very creative! I love the results of your work. Can't wait to see your pansy block!

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