Monday, March 18, 2013

Tea Dying White Polyester Lace for a Vintage Look

Tea Dying.  So Easy a 9 Year Old Can Do It!

It's no secret I'm an avid party planner.  I've enjoyed throwing weddings and events for years and have learned several techniques and tricks of the trade.  For my husband and mine's anniversary party I've decided to incorporate a vintage theme.  Upon purchasing white 70" round lace overlays (polyester none the less) I decided that the bright white looked "cheap".  This isn't meant to offend those who love the crisp and clean look of white linens as I do too.  However, white didn't have that rich aged vintage look I was going for.  I've read everywhere on line that polyester doesn't hold onto the tea dye very well.  I figured "What the heck.  If it doesn't work I guess I will still have white polyester lace cloths!"  On a whim, I enlisted my 9 year old to show how easy tea dying can be.  Take note folks.  This project is so easy a 9 year old can do it!  We got an even dye throughout with no blotchy mess.

What you will need:
Lace or material to be dyed
Bathtub or top loading washing machine
50 Cheap Tea Bags from local dollar store, Walmart etc. (We used Pekoe because I read online this works best)

Take your lace table cloths (or used ones if you have used fabric softener on them) and wash them on the shortest cycle in COLD WATER WITHOUT ANY DETERGENT.  Do NOT dry.

While your cloths are washing, begin filling your bathtub or top loading washing machine 1/3 of the way with warm water (As warm as you can stand it.  It doesn't have to be boiling hot).  While the water is filling, begin unwrapping and placing your 50 tea bags in the warm water.

Stir the teabags until you have a nice dark brew.

Once you your water is a nice dark color (like when you are making a cup of tea) spoon out and if not too hot, squeeze the tea bags and remove from the water.  Never use loose leaf tea without cheesecloth or something to prevent loose tea from floating around in the water.  The leaves can leave dark spots on your fabric.

Once you have removed your washed lace cloths from the washer, be certain to straighten them out individually.

You may now begin placing your table cloths as straight as possible into the bath water (this won't matter much with the washing machine method.)

Using a spoon make sure the fabric stay submerged as much as possible.  Make sure if you are using a washing machine that you are stirring the batch often to keep the tea dye moving through the lace.  Check every 20 minutes.

Once your desired color has been reached, wring out the bath tub tea and dry in your dryer on low to heat set the tea dye.  If using your washing machine, skip to the spin cycle.  DO NOT RINSE.

If the smell of tea bothers you, throw in a few dryer sheets before you start the dryer.  Taaadaa!  You are all done and these are ready to use.  Remember to use cold water for future washing's.  Some fading is to be expected over time however this process may be done again if needed.  Please note that too much tea dying can weaken the fibers.  But then again, doesn't using your washing machine eventually do the same thing??  That's just my opinion :)

NOTE:  Be certain to bleach or comet your tub while the lace cloths are drying.  The tea didn't stain my bathtub however, it did discolor the anti slip grip tape on the bottom of the bath tub.  Comet got it right out.


  1. what drying method would you recommend for a polyester dress that is handwash?

  2. I am also thinking about dying a dress that is polyester and handwash, so i'd be eager to her what you anyone has to say?

  3. Also, how long did you leave the table cloth in until it reached that colour in the picture?

  4. I would like to dye a polyester lace top half of a little girls dress but unsure what to do with the tulle skirt that I don't want dyed.

  5. tried it and it worked a treat. Don´t worry about the ring that is left around the bath tub, this comes off easily with bathroom cleaner

  6. Thanks for this step by step how to, it helped me envisage the end result (which was fab!)