Secrets behind giving your sewing projects an old antique look

Secrets behind giving your sewing projects an old antique look

Article by Lenna Green

Giving your fabric an aged or antique look is very easy. One method is to use tea to dye your fabric. You can tea dye the fabric before using it, or after, depending on its end use. If I am making a sewing bag for example. I would dye the fabric before using it.To see an example of a sewing bag that has used tea dye fabrics go to:

If I wanted to embroidery on the fabric I would chooseto tea dye it after working on it simply because it is mucheasier to transfer the pattern prior to darkening the fabric. Although if you choose to tea dye the fabric after embroidering on it be aware that the dye can effect the colour of the embroidery threads used and can sometimes shrink the fabric as well.To dye fabric with tea place some tea bags in a glass bowl and then fill with boiling water. Add a teaspoon of salt to help set the dye.The number of tea bags will determine the strength of the tea dye solution. As a guide use approximately 4 tea bags for a weak solution. Let the solution cool slightly. Wet the fabric to be dyed with warm water. Squeeze out the excess and then place into the tea solution. If you are wanting an even dye remove the tea bags. Leave for a few hours stirring occasionally to ensure the tea dye is being taken up evenly. Alternatively leave the bags in the solution for a more uneven result. Remove the fabric from the tea solution and squeeze out the excess water. Remember the colour will be lighter when the fabric dries.Another method is to put some strong tea in a spray bottle and spray the fabric until you get the desired effect. Or you can dab the fabric with the warm tea bags to give a more dappled result.For a sample of a project that I have tea dyed by dabbing with a tea bag go to:

Another method used to age fabric is to use Parisian essence (found in the cooking section of the supermarket). Parisian essence is used in cooking for browning gravies, soups, broths, cakes and puddings. The same technique described above can be used for ageing your fabric with this soloution. Simply substitute the tea bags with a 1-2 capfuls of Parisian essence.Coffee can also be used as an alternative substitute, although is a more expensive choice.

If you experiment with each of these methods you will find that they all dye the fabric a different shade. Tea will give a more yellow brown colour whilst Parisian essence and coffee give a deeper brown shade.Once your fabric is dry and you are happy with the aged look press with a hot iron. If you are unhappy with the result simply repeat the process again to darken further, or soak in a solution of colourfast stain remover such as nappysan to bring the fabric back to its original condition.Dyeing fabric with tea,coffee or Parisian essence can give your projects a unique aged feel to them.

For a free redwork pattern that has been given the tea dye look…this ones on us. Go to

About the Author

Lenna Green is a textile designer who has taught hand embroidery, patchwork, quilting,applique and beading for over ten years. Her website found at is a visual feast for sewing enthusiasts who are looking for a new pattern to sew or helpful resources.