Tinting vintage crocheted pieces with tea, how to set?

linnea56March 5, 2013

Last week I bought a large vintage crocheted piece I plan to use as a coverlet on my bed. There was one section, about 1 foot by 3 feet, where the maker obviously ran out of the color of crochet cotton she had used for the rest of it. This panel is a lighter beige, rather than the deeper tone of the rest of it.

My grandmother crocheted, and I remember her being very picky about the color she used. She liked a deeper ecru. Upon one occasion when my mother was taking her out on errands, she couldnâÂÂt find her typical color, just lighter ones. My mother promised to dye the finished piece with tea when she completed it.

On the next visit, she did. I vaguely recall her soaking it in a big pot full of tea on the stove, then rinsing it. The finished result was very nice. What I donâÂÂt remember was if she used something like salt to set the color. Or ironing?

To get back to my âÂÂnewâ piece: I used a paint brush to apply the tea to the lighter section, soaking it, but stopping short of it bleeding into the darker main body. I had tested it first on a small section the day before. After about 2 hours of soaking, I started blotting it dry. It looks pretty goodâ¦not exact, as the darker main body has a pinker cast to the ecru. But a whole lot closer to a match than before.

Any ideas how I can set the color? This was enough trouble that I really donâÂÂt want it washing out. IâÂÂm not planning on laundering this, but you never know. Should I try the salt, or ironing with a steam iron? I would prefer not to have to immerse the whole piece, just this section. Thanks!

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You need to make it quite a bit darker than the rest of the piece so it ends up even when you wash it.

You set tea dye by soaking it in a slightly acidic solution: Wet it with vinegar and salt mixture

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 2:30PM
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You might want to rethink this. Tea dying weakens the fibers over time and it does lighten with washing. I would not use tea on a vintage piece. Consider exploring fabric dyes. Dharma Trading has a good selection. Either way, I doubt that you will be able to correct this issue unless you choose to go with a much darker dye.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 2:16PM
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Thanks. Diane, I had already done it by the time you posted. The pieces my mother tea dyed way back in the 60âÂÂs look greatâ¦so I will not worry unnecessarily about this one. It is also purchased, not one my grandmother made, so not a family heirloom.

I did one course with tea, it was not dark enough. The rest of the piece was also a more pinkish beige, whereas the tea dyed portion was a golden beige. So I did it over again using coffee and little beet juice mixed in (I had just happened to make boiled beets the day before!). It is now slightly darker than the rest. Were it to fade a bit now, it would match quite closely.

When I guessed it would be dark enough I squeezed out all the water by putting it between two towels and sitting on it. An interesting thing happened though. The side that was bottommost is lighter than the side where I actually applied the tea/coffee. It is almost an exact match. Somehow the color was more squeezed out on the bottom surface. This gives me then a lighter side and a darker side! So with potential future fading, I have options for which side to lay uppermost.

Lazygardens, does the vinegar and salt need to be any particular proportion? Because the dyed section is just a portion of the whole piece, I would be painting it on, just like I applied the tea, not soaking it.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 1:08PM
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It came out so nice! I soaked part in salt, then rinsed and dried. After the soaking it came out looking even. Only I can tell that one part was ever lighter. Then I pressed it with my steam iron just to cover contingencies.

I am not planning to use it on my bed til summer. But I am using it as a tablecloth now, so I can see it every day and gloat over it every time I walk by! I am so glad I did not pass this up just because part was lighter.

I even bought a similar style dresser scarf a few days ago, so I can use that as a pillow cover.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 11:37PM
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It's so pretty, alot of work went into making that. I love the color,nice job !

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 4:12PM
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