November 3, 2011

How to Tea Dye Curtains

When I last had you all up to the Master Bedroom (take it easy, it's not that kind of party) we got to take a look at the new West Elm inspired nightstands I built and the new lamps: 

I was particulary excited about the lamps, since they added a new cream color to the pallet.

Here's what it looks like with the lights out:

I was planning to add more color and dimension to this room, and originally I was thinking of going bold with a dark plum, eggplant or indigo.  That was until I found this, much more calming inspiration from West Elm.

I love the way the beige brings a natural tone to the room.  When we found the lamps, with their cream colored shades, and I was Jessie Spano excited that they worked. The next step was to find more ways to bring the color into the room.  And I was looking at those boring, and not-working-for-me white curtains.

I've read that tea dying is a nice technique to dye white fabrics a slight, and natural tan color.  But the best part- since the dye is all natural, if you don't like the result, you can just bleach your fabric back to white.  Fail proof DIY- that's what I'm talking about.

 So all I did was fill a big stock pot about 3/4 full, brought it to a boil, and put in 10 regular tea bags.  (I used black tea, but from what I gather any kind will do.)  After letting the tea bags seep for 5 minutes, I removed them and placed in 1 curtain panel at a time. 

It was trial and error.  The first time I soaked my curtain way too long (about 25 minutes), and even after I had rinsed all the tea out with cold water, it was much too dark.  I just threw it in the wash on a light cycle with soap though, and it came out the perfect color.  The next curtain panel I filled up a new pot, with 10 new tea bags, and this time only kept the curtain in for 5 minutes, which was perfect.  If you remember, we have a little problem with windows in the Master Bedroom, which we're still trying to figure out a solution for, but in the mean time I had 4 more curtain panels to dye.  I didn't want to buy my local grocery store entirely out of tea bags, so for the next panel I put it back into the same pot, but this time soaked the curtain a little longer, 10 minutes.  That seemed to do the trick and made them all roughly the same color.  Then I just needed to brew up 1 more pot for the remaining 2 curtains.  After they were all rinsed off and hung to dry, I had this:

I haven't hemmed the curtains yet, because I wanted to make sure I liked them first.  That's up for this weekend. 

I like that the color is subtle, and that the tea dye gave them a natural look and texture.  I hesitate to even show you this angle, because Lord knows I hate these windows to the Living Room, but you know how I am about here about over sharing.  The good, the bad and the uh-gly.

We may not even have curtains over on these windows once all is said and done, but it's nice to have them now in the meantime for a tiny little sliver of privacy. 
Sort of.


  1. Awesome job! I love the curtains... the color looks perfect in the space!

  2. I know this is a few years later, but have you thought about using a shade to cover your windows? There are different types of wood or bamboo that you could use in all different wood tones to match (or not!) your furniture. It would be a great way to work in that cream/camel color you were considering.

    Also, there are window clings. It can make the windows look frosted. Maybe a combination of that and the wooden shades will give you the privacy you desire (the shades alone may not be *quite* enough), while also allowing some light to get into your living room.

    Hope this helps, and isn't too late! You've probably changed your whole decor by now, lol.

    Much Love, -A.L.

  3. You've inspired me to try this. Can you tell me what fabric your curtains are? I have Laura Ashley Devon and they're 100% polyester. Also- how about running the curtains wall to wall to hide the living room issue? Thanks!