Dyeing with Tea and Turmeric

One advantage of living alone means I can do projects at any time of the day or night and not worry about them bothering a roommate. For instance, I can try out natural dyeing while simultaneously dancing to some beats - all at some ungodly hour. This dyeing project involved lots of turmeric and tea, and probably smelled terrible, but fun fact: I have a very bad sense of smell, so it doesn't bother me at all. The turmeric is a beautiful yellow spice that, when heated to a simmer, dyes white fabric a gorgeous sunny yellow. Honestly, it's all I could do to keep myself from throwing everything I own that's white into the pot. I used half of one of those tiny canisters of turmeric.

Dyeing with Tea and Turmeric
Dyeing with Tea and Turmeric

The same goes for the black tea. I heated about 8 teabags in probably 7-8 cups of water to a boil, and let that simmer for a bit before throwing in more white pieces. The black tea creates a beautiful neutral shade of antique brown.

My process was very simple - I soaked my pieces in cold water with a splash of vinegar before wringing them out and putting them in the dye pots.

I let my pieces simmer in both pots for about an hour or so, stirring every so often. I will say - I bought a stock pot, big plastic bowl, and wooden spoons at Goodwill just for this project. I didn't want to stain or ruin any of my own things!

After the pieces had simmered, I fished them out and into a bowl of cold water. Do this separately for each color - don't mix them together. I transferred this bowl to the sink and began systematically rinsing and wringing them out. This is kind of a long process, so settle in for a little bit. You want the water to run completely clear before you lay or hang them to dry!

I strung twine above my sink to hang a few of the doilies, and laid out the rest of the fabric on an old beach towel on my floor.

I gave my pieces a good ironing and set them out to admire. Look at the yellow!

I love the beautiful neutrals of the tea stained lace. Soak these in the tea for even longer if you want a darker, richer tone. I preferred the delicate beige. :)

Here is a comparison photo - look how bright the yellow is from the turmeric!

Another comparison photo:

Have fun with your natural dyeing! My next adventure will include black beans and red cabbage - stay tuned!

P.S. I also used this technique to dye a thrifted white cotton T-shirt with turmeric. You can use this technique to get the yellow t-shirt yarn for my April 2017 pattern of the month! Follow this wonderful tutorial from Mollie Makes to make the t-shirt yarn - it's fantastic.