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!


2 comments:

  1. I used to rea and coffee my fabric a lot for quilt making. You really have been bitten by the cross stitch bug. Enjoy!

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  2. Interesting, I didn’t know you could do this and not get stains. Thank you for sharing at The Really Crafty Link Party. Pinned!

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