How to Tea Dye Your Costumes

How to Tea Dye Your Costumes

I have to let you in on a secret: the veil in my Begin Again series was actually just a curtain from Goodwill. I couldn’t find a veil in the style I wanted that looked antique enough. So, I went to my local thrift store and perused the bed sheet and curtain section. When I found the perfect little curtain I bought it for just a few dollars even though it was bright white and new.

When I got it home I brewed a giant batch of tea and soaked the cloth in there for hours and hours. The curtain I got was a synthetic blend and not absorbent, so it took a long time of dying to get anything to stick. Here’s an example of the veil from the series after it was dyed and photographed:

Tea dying is the art of antiquing fabric on the cheap. It doesn’t take a lot of effort or a lot of money to make the new look old. Here’s a breakdown of how to do it. If you try this, please share pictures of the results!

Black tea
White fabric (preferably cotton)
Pot + water

Step 1: Unpackage about 20 tea bags of generic black tea. Alternately, you can use loose leaf tea (I might have done that if all that I had was pretty expensive to replace). Use more tea bags for a darker look or less for lighter.

Step 2: Boil a big pot of water, large enough for your fabric to be submerged.

Step 3: Put your tea bags in and soak for a few minutes.

Step 4: Turn off the heat and put your fabric inside the pot with the tea bags. Let the tea bags remain inside for the duration of the dying process. I recommend using the lid so the heat stays in.

Step 5: Wait until your fabric turns the color you want. I recommend at least 30 minutes which will yield the following results:

Step 6: Hang to dry.

Step 7: Use in your gorgeous photography! And show me!

One thought on “How to Tea Dye Your Costumes

  1. You can also get a nice earthy brown with black walnut hulls if you have a tree in your area. But be warned, DO NOT TOUCH YOUR EYES AFTER TOUCHING THE HULLS it will burn like you wouldn’t believe for hours!
    I never manage to make it to used store, my wardrobe is always a black shirt and blue jeans, if it is cold then I wear a gray long sleeve shirt. I feel like the wardrobe for conceptual photos with men is so limited, and then you through my above average size in on that and finding something like a cheap used suit or something is impossible. I also need a better budget too, but I will get there on that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *