Friday, November 16, 2007


Ok, so I've never been one to be too scared of experimenting with fabrics. I like to play. If I mess up -- it's FABRIC. No one dies, I may have spent a bit of money and time -- but, um, nothing seriously wrong happens. (if you know of an exception to this one -- I'd love to hear about it -- though, on second thought, maybe you shouldn't burst my bubble).

So, when the pattern for my daughter's Christmas gift called for something I've never done -- wooo hoo -- time to experiment. Time to venture into the kitchen and play with some tea dying. (for those of you who have done this a million times -- um, yep -- I'm late coming to the party on this one) And of course, since I'm prone to overly complicating relatively simple things, I had to not just tea dye but play with it. I wanted to get a "peachy" color to the fabric. This is, after all, supposed to be a doll right? So -- black tea should give a brownish tinge -- what will give more of a flesh tone? How about a "red" tea?

And, just in case the whole -- it should be black tea thing is necessary. How about another length that has both red and black teas combined? So far looking promising no? A nice peachy color here -- even given that tea dying is going to be MUCH lighter when it gets washed -- still, looking good!

Anyone get the feeling that this isn't going to turn out the way I want it to? You should be -- I mean, I did end up getting tea dyed fabric. It's darker/duskier than the original white -- but, the whole color thing I was going for? Not sure. It could be the detergent I used. I used Dreft, which is a wonderful product. Really. There's even a blurb on it in the current Quilter's Home magazine for this issue's product test -- they rated it REALLY highly for washing quilts, just below the specialty product Soak (and for the rating -- a darned sight cheaper as well). But, you see, I forgot one *little* thing -- the reason I still use Dreft for my daughter's laundry even though she's 2? Um -- this stuff WORKS. I mean, really works. Gets out stains I thought wouldn't come out works. As in as soon as I poured it into the washing machine it started changing the color of the fabrics -- fast!

Soooo -- this is what I ended up with. The red tea is on the left, the red/black is in the middle and that far right piece is another experiment with green tea meant for some stitchery ideas (too coarse to want to use for the doll body. The fabric across the bottom is the original white. Not sure how happy I am with these.

And just for a shot with another color reference -- here's a shot with my hand in it. I mean -- it could be the detergent (probable) -- it could just be that the red color in the tea I used doesn't stain enough (possible) -- could be that I used warm water to wash it in (also possible but not as likely as the first two) -- could be that I didn't use enough tea bags to get good color (though, look at the before pictures, I think I got enough color on there)-- etc., etc., etc. So the question is -- do I attempt the experiment again? Do I change one of the likely culprit variables and attempt to re-stain the fabrics? Do I say well -- I got stained fabric and just go with what I've got?

Am I over thinking and over complicating something that doesn't need to be? *sigh* probably to the last one. But I'm still unsure about the use or redye question. I still think the red tea idea should work -- but, really, does it matter? What do you think? Redo or use what I have so my daughter can have her doll for THIS Christmas?

And to end on a happier note -- the pincushions are coming along. Two completely done -- five more that need buttons added to them, but that's a good nighttime project. One of these is actually already at its destination -- one of dd's teachers is leaving today. I added a bit of scented oil soaked in a cotton ball to the stuffing and it's a pretty sachet if she doesn't need a pincushion. As for the others -- well, stay tuned for further announcements :0).

I've been getting some nice compliments on the Christmas ornaments from my last post -- if anyone is interested in being Megged -- I know Tammy was planning on kiting these up with the pattern and a fabric pack. I'm not sure if they're up on her site or not or if she's gotten them done yet -- but if you are interested you could shoot her an email. Just doing my part to ensure a vital global economy :0).


kristin L said...

Good news is, you can always use neutrals like these in quilting and embroidery projects. How about trying some RIT or Dylon that's formulated to stand up better against detergents?

Karyn said...

I am of no help with your dying dilemma, but I can say those pincushions are amazing! I love the idea of a scented cottonball in them!

Jeanne said...

Tea dying is pale unless you use LOTS of tea, or really heat the fabric in the water, not just dip it lukewarm.
You could also brew another stronger batch of tea, and leave the same fabric in a long time, like overnight, and see what you get.
Also, 'red' tea might just have food coloring in it, which may not be a permanent color on fabric, so what you were hoping for did indeed wash out in the laundry.
Lots of trial-and-error!
Jeanne :)

QuiltingFitzy said...

I'd be willing to bet kool-aid would give you what you want, but be timid with the amount you add. You surely wouldn't be out alot of $, lol. My daughter used it to dye her hair stawberry. No, I didn't kill her.

Pat said...

I have switched to tan Rit dye. I have found that it works best. Good luck.

Tanya said...

No advice about tea dying. I have tried it once. I was trying for a color and tried tea, coffee, onion skins and curry. I was hoping for a tan color and the only thing that really dyed well was the curry! Orange!

Nan said...

I have never tea-dyed before, so I am fascinated by how you did it and your results. I know Rit Dyes has a tea-dying product, and I read the other day that it was better than using tea. I don't know, as I've never used that either. I do like the colors you came up with, though. As far as using them for your daughter's dolly, if you're happy with it, she will be, too.
The pincushions are just too cute, Angela! You do such nice work!

katelnorth said...

Well, I also am a latecomer to the tea dyeing party, though I understand it's necessary to use really strong tea. (I see someone has suggested that.) You can also dye with coffee, FWIW, but not sure the colours is that different.

cher said...

love the dolly idea-I am sure you will come up with a happy solution.
love the pincushions!

Lisa said...

Now that takes nerve. I've never done any tea dying but I've seen some beautiful results that others have produced. Good luck with your project.

Love your little pincushions too.

Morah said...

I too have been using Rit dye instead of tea. I've heard though that using the instant tea works well also. Plus they say using cheapo tea dyes better then the higher priced stuff. Maybe you need to increase the amount of teabags to water to get the desired effect.

Tracey @ozcountryquiltingmum said...

Ok, all those sugestions are good and right, but fully dry it after you dye it, then rinse in cold salty water. The salt helps stop all the colour from running out.
The fabulous thing I use for a little darker look...but you can get whatever with trial and error, is Parisian browning essece. Very cheap, I get it in the vanilla essence section of the supermarket and it does a mean dye job, Tracey

Rose Marie said...

This post sure brought up a lot of different comments about tea dyeing and alternatives. I've only done one quilt where tea dyed fabric was used and I love the look of it. To try and come up with an exact colour is hard to do, but looks like you are having fun with experimenting. BTW, those pincushions are fabulous.

The Wooden Spool said...

Wow! I love your tea dying project! I guessed right away that it was for a doll. How fun! I think my mom and I did that once upon a time. Can't wait to see the finished project! :) ENJOY, and happy thanksgiving!!!

lnielsen said...

I love experimenting with dyeing and colors too. I'm kind of new to this thing, but I was wondering if you can help me with green hue. I was thinking if green tea would yield any pretty natural green hue. Would something like this work? green tea