|Comparison of the tea-dyed lace and the original, blinding white version.|
I knew that it was possible to dye nylon with tea by using an acidic bath (usually man-made materials, like polyester and acrylic, are impossible to tea dye, but nylon has a unique chemical make-up). The result is a nice, antique-looking, beige cream-colored lace. I like dyeing with tea because it's pretty hard to mess up, as long as you aren't looking for a very specific shade of beige. No tricky measuring or timing required, and you'll never end up with too dark of a shade. Perfect for taking the edge off of very white whites.
Start with a large pot of hot water (not boiling, but definitely steaming), several tea bags (I used six packets of barley tea from our local Japanese market since there are no tags attached to the bags), and a handful of salt.
|I used our largest stock pot, the outside of which badly needs washing.|
Simmer until it's nice and dark.
|Double, double, toil and trouble...fire burn and cauldron bubble...|
|It certainly looks as if it could've been eye of newt and toe of frog, instead of just over-brewed barley tea.|
Take out the tea bags, dump in your nylon fabric and swirl it around, making sure that every part of it gets good and soaked. Stir it for a good ten minutes, make sure that the water is still steaming but not boiling. The heat helps the tea color bind to the cationic amino groups of the nylon.
|It will look scarily brown, but fear not!|
Add in about a cup of vinegar and let it all swirl around for another ten minutes. The vinegar acts as a mordant, which helps the dye to "take," so that it doesn't just wash out. Pull out the fabric, drain, and let it cool.
|At this point, it smelled like death and looked like a weird brain/turkey.|
Once it's cool, rinse it well with cold water until the liquid squeezed out runs clear. Let it dry, and then you can use it!
|Much better. Nice and creamy.|
Alright. Let's see how long it takes to cobble together this dress.