Monday 25 January 2016

Vintage French linens, herbal teas and hand dyed threads!

Ideas ... they do not always come in a flash but by diligent trial and error. 
 Experiments take time and thought and an awful lot of fun!

My design that I have been playing with needed something, I needed to make a border and all of the fabrics ( and lets face it I am not short of a few to experiment with) were just not quiet right somehow.  I wanted a border of linen but then it would just be the same colour that I have been stitching on.  Then I thought I know I will dye some to border it.

Here is where the experiment came to me.  I was trying to think about it and so I made myself one of my herbal teas and sat sipping and ... why not?  So I made a few of my herbal teas in bowls and started to dye little bits of vintage linen in each one to test the colours.  The thing is as I have said before I only like natural dyeing and what could be easier and more natural than a fruit tea!  There are no chemicals in it and voilá .....

As a regular reader you will know that I did some detailed blogs over a year ago on natural hand
dyeing and all the plants and fruit that you can use.  This time of year soft fruits are very expensive and so herbal teas are perfect and cheaper.  Just boil a kettle and pop a bag into a bowl, pour over the water and stir it about for a couple of seconds.  Then try a bit of fabric in there to see what colour it becomes.  You can keep putting the tea bag back in if you feel you need a darker colour, you can add but not so easy to take away.  You can tip some away and just add more water if it is too dark.

To say that I am pleased with the results is an understatement and I have been matching up threads with coloured linen and it has opened up a whole new world of dyeing for me....  All because I love drinking herbal teas in the day, let me tell you the kitchens smelt beautiful..... Cinnamon tea, Black currant and Vanilla tea, Apple and Spice, Lemon and Ginger and Echinacea and Raspberry! ... All wonderful side effects of my experiment.

So after putting different herbal tea bags in water and letting the colour get to where I thought it
might be right for the job I then soaked four small pieces of vintage linen in the different teas.  The results where fabulous.  I have shown you here the four pieces plus a fifth piece at the bottom with no tea dye at all so you can see the differences that I have achieved....

The top left piece I put in a apple and spice.  The top right in the Blackcurrant and vanilla.  The second row on the left was cinnamon tea and the last one on the second row on the right was ginger tea .... very similar to the cinnamon but there is a difference that I just could not capture for you with the photo..... The days are so dull here and it is grey light I am afraid.  When I tried with the light on it really was not good at all.

You can see though what can be achieved and I am going to dye a batch in the cinnamon for my border and I think it will work really well.

Why not give it a go yourself and believe me the kitchen smells wonderful!

Happy Stitching!


  1. If you soak the fabric in a soya milk solution - 1 s milk to 3 water - for 24 hours and then let it dry the colours will take better and be more long lasting.

  2. Thank you Maureen that is great! Thank you for sharing with us all!

  3. What fun! I'm not a tea drinker but I shall buy some especially to try this! Will the colours be fast???

    1. Gill
      Herbal tea isn't actually tea as in earl grey etc.

      I do nothing but rinse and iron mine because it goes on work that I do not wash like clothes.

      Salt helps colours stay though and it helps to wet your fabric first.

      Maureen above comment suggests a soya milk solution which would be kinder to fabric ..

      Good luck and it's lots of fun!

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