Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tea Dyeing Lace

All of the cotton lace curtains that you see were a light brownish color when they were first woven; they're called gray goods or loomstate, and then these raw panels or yardage are taken to the finishers, where they are dyed to a specific color.

When Cooper's Cottage Lace started back in 2007, we decided to select one color for our lace that would be the most compatible with everyone's interior, and selected Natural White (also known in the trade as Ivory), as it was a pleasing white shade that was not too stark and was also potentially more stable than lace that had been bleached. Whan clients ask "What color is Natural White?" I tell them that it looks like white, until you put it next to pure white. It's not as brown as ecru, nor is it very "yellowy", either.

Natural white looks great with white woodwork but has enough of a tint to please folks who usually want a little bit of "character" to their curtains.

But, some of you out there want a lot of character, and so, herewith, are the instructions on how to tea-dye your lace. Tea-dyeing is a time honored method of darkening lace curtains to make them look antique, and is often used on film sets.

The following is from "The Crazy Quilt Handbook" by Judith Montano and C&T Publishing

"To make the tea solution, boil a gallon of water with four tea bags in it for 15 minutes. Strain the solution and return it to simmer. Wet the lace in plain water, then put it into simmering tea. When the lace has simmered for 15 minutes, take it out and put it in a setting solution of 1/2 cup white vinegar in one gallon of water. Let it set for 15 minutes, then rinse it thoroughly and press."

If you're considering trying this process, please call or email us, and we'll send you some cuttings to experiment with at no charge. You can also use fabric dyes, such as RIT or other types available from crafts stores. This can give you virtually any color imaginable, and is quite striking. I've seen our Old Colony in black, and it's beautiful.