How to Dye Fabric with Coffee & Tea

There's a lot of buzz about fabric dying with coffee and tea on flosstube lately. I love flosstube; I've  learned some wonderful techniques and been introduced to some gorgeous patterns by the stitchers brave enough to post those videos. I even discovered Sampler & Antique Embroidery magazine on Nicole's Needlework and bought her copy on Stash Unload!

Yes, I've gone full in on the cross stitch.

A few weekends ago I had a free afternoon and the weather was terrible. I recently discovered Priscilla & Chelsea on flosstube and decided to follow their tutorial on dying with coffee and tea. (I've since come across Vonna's Baked and Basted tutorial - I think what I did is a combo of both.) I'd already purchased some cheap 14 point Aida from Walmart - not that I ever use fancy fabric, my eyes can barely do 18 count Aida, but since I had no idea how this experiment would work out, I thought I'd try it with little investment.

I saved some leftover coffee from the pots we brewed the day before (we drink a LOT of coffee in my house) and had some English Breakfast tea bags available. Here's my setup before dying in my very old kitchen:

I wet the cloth before I put it in the dye pot mainly because that's how you do when you dye yarn. I added 5 tea bags, about 3 cups of leftover coffee (with espresso which turned my fabric darker than expected so be forewarned if you, like me, love strong coffee), and 2 tablespoons of instant coffee. 

After 30 minutes, I took the fabric out and laid it on parchment on a cookie sheet all scrunched up. 

I put it in the oven for 30 minutes at 200F. I did check it a few times but didn't realize that the underside would get darker than the top.  After I took it out of the oven, I discovered I had some pooling of coffee that made some really dark spots that almost looked like burn marks.

So I dipped the fabric back in the bath (glad I saved it) which removed all the mottling and the spots although it did make the fabric darker. I then put the fabric back in the oven and left it in for 20 minutes.

Much better.

The fabric was slightly damp when it came out of the oven and very wrinkled. I decided to iron it before hanging it to completely dry. This didn't seem to affect the color, and I got the worst of the wrinkles out.

I'm using this fabric with Little House Needleworks First Corinthians and Classic Colorworks threads. This is my first experience with "fancy thread", and it looks great on this fabric! 

One bit of disappointment with that fancy floss: my Nutmeggie was NOT what is pictured on the pattern. The color is supposed to be a variegated plum, but this skein had a lot of peach in it. Here's what the Classic Colorworks thread looked like for me:

123Stitch was very nice about refunding my money for that color. Customer service even checked their other skeins and they were all like that. Nell from the Little Yellow House Crafts talked about this on her podcast recently, and now I'm hesitant to order any more fancy floss online. I have another LHN pattern that uses silks that I can only get online, so I'm not sure how I'm going to get that floss. If any readers have suggestions or have had a similar experience, please let me know in the comments!

In the picture above, I switched to DMC and now my door looks lovely.

I also completed this quick stitch from The Primitive Hare (it's free!) using DMC I had in stash on some 14 count Fiddler's Cloth Aida I dyed in the same way:

I've been working on the LHN design quite a bit this month, especially during the "Off the Grid Friday Party". If you aren't a part of that event, go over to Facebook and search for that group. Lots of great stitchers and flosstubers participate - f you join us, say high during the next Friday party!

Cross Stitch Crazy!

In my last post, I mentioned that I've neglected my knitting in favor of cross stitch. If you'd asked me back in October when I was floating on the post-Rhinebeck high if I'd ever put aside my knitting, I would've responded strongly and definitively.


But then I went to the flea market.

Spring, summer, and fall find my family at flea markets and estate sales. My daughter has an etsy shop where she sells her finds after she cleans and fixes them up. It's been a nice bit of income for her since she is a perennial student now working on her Ph.D. The rest of us just like looking, and my ex's dog Tipton likes the attention. Here he is actively anticipating the fun of the flea:

We had a stretch of nice weather in early November, so the family set out to a local flea market. I made my daughter promise not to let me purchase anything Christmas; I have more than enough Christmas decor and am trying to scale back.

Needless to say, I broke my rule. I found a stamped cross stitch linen towel kit with poinsettias on them. I haven't done stamped cross stitch since I was a kid, and the last cross stitch project I attempted was just too much for my eyes and the q-snaps too heavy for my wrists. I still have some plastic hoops I used back in the 90s and figured I could try those with these towels. After all, the kit was $1!

I started these in mid-November and finished them Thanksgiving weekend. I don't like how you can see my threads on the back (I've never been particularly neat about anchoring my threads) so I bought some fabric to line them with. Of course, I have yet to do that; it's a good summer vacation project for this teacher!

Here's what they look like finished. That gold thread is torturous to stitch with - so glad it was just used for those accents!

Since completing those towels, I managed to stitch the Heart and Hand Santa from 2002 in December (love his flag) and The March Sisters by Primitive Hare in January:

I even attempted the "coffee tea dye" process that's all over flosstube these days. I'll share my experiences with cheap Aida and leftover espresso in my next blog post!

Do you cross stitch and knit? How do you balance your projects? Do you sometimes prefer one to the other? Let me know in the comments!