Sunday, March 4, 2012 | By: My Great Finds by Linda

Using What I Have Challenge!

The challenge that I have accept to take is to Use What I Already Have in my creative projects. This at first seemed to be a bit daunting but it turned out to be so much fun.

So for today my goal was to make some pillows out of cloth napkins.

Right away the opportunity came up to put this challenge to the test. 

I had already printed out this wonderful bird image from the Graphics Fairy web site and once that was done and ironed on the napkin I realized that the image was a bit too small for the size pillow it was going to be.  Normally I'd run to the fabric store frantically trying to find a solution, but nope the challenge was to use what I had on hand.

So hunting in my stash of stuff I found this wonderful ribbon (that I already had) that was perfect.  Not having any brown thread on hand to sew the ribbon onto the pillow I then decided I'd use some of that iron on tape I had saved from some Ikea curtains.  I was pretty surprised this challenge thingy wasn't really a challenge but was a way to get my creative juices going. 

I am so pleased with the design and to think that I had everything that the pillow needed. No running to the store wasting time and dollars, the pillow design ingredients were already there.

Oh yeah you see that line in the image but you are way too polite to mention. Yes it was a goof up on my part. I let the hot iron hit the image and it created that line. Another one of those lessons learned, such as protect your iron on image with cloth if using an iron near it.

This challenge for me is on going and with the stash of stuff I have I should be unstumped for quite a long time. 

BTW with that obvious line the pillow has found a home with me.

I'm Partying At The Following
Sunday's Best at My 1929 Charmer
Brag Monday at the Graphics Fairy
Friday, March 2, 2012 | By: My Great Finds by Linda

How To Tea Dye Fabric!

I love using fabric in my projects, I'm a bit of a fabricaholic, can't go into a fabric store without drooling and buying.

Sometimes though the newness of the fabric just sets me on edge a bit. It's the fabric stiffener and the brightness of the colors that I think does it to me and so I use tea dying to give the fabric a look of.... maturity. (that sounds so much better than old) 


Tea bags of course, lots of them. 

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A Big Pot, Like A Pasta Pot! 

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FIRST gather your fabrics. Keep in mind the size of the pot and gather according to what will fit. I've tea dyed solid colors and all sorts of prints from muslin to decorator's fabric. All the fabric I do dye is washable and I've never done a dry clean only type of fabric. I then soak my fabric in clear water, usually in my kitchen sink. Once all the fabric has been completely wet I then wring out as much of the water as I can and place them waiting for the dye bath.  I've noticed that if I do this first step the fabric accepts the dye better and reduces streaks.

SECOND let it boil. Add the water to your large pot leaving room at the top so the fabrics won't cause your water to spill over.  Set it on the stove and get that water boiling.

THIRD  get your tea bags ready. I like to remove the little paper tag on the string just so the printed dye doesn't bleed into my dye. It probably wouldn't but just in case.  How many you ask?  Well I do about 30 bags for my big pot but I do like a visual tea dyed look.  Do a bit less for a less browny vintage look.  You will have to experiment to see what works best for you. 

FOURTH  add the tea bags. Once the water reaches the boiling point start adding your tea bags using a spoon to coax the bags into getting fully wet. With all the tea bags added to the pot and wet I let the water boil for about another 2 minutes to get a rich deeper brown dye. 

FIFTH  add fabric. Turn off the gas and then submerge the fabric into the brown dye using the same spoon you used to get the tea bags wet. You don't want to put your hands in boiling water, use the spoon. Yes!  I let the fabric and tea bags co-mingle. I've never had the problem of the tea bags bursting open and causing a mess. If you would rather remove the bags do so after the 2 minute boil and do it carefully. 

SIXTH relax and wait. Hard part is over now it's a waiting game. I usually don't start checking my fabric until the water has cooled down to lukewarm. That's about 2 hours. On occasion I've left my fabric in the dye bath overnight to get a real deep color but usually I'm happy with the results when I first check. Once the batch is done you could add more fabric to the cool water and the dye still works but it doesn't come out as dark as quickly. That's my observation. 

SEVENTH  Rinse and repeat. Your happy with the color keeping in mind wet it will look darker. Now back to the sink.  Your fabric needs to be rinsed of all its tea. I  fill my kitchen sink with clear water and swoosh my fabric around until I see the water turn brown. Empty the water from the sink and repeat, it usually takes about three times for the fabric to be totally rinsed out.. I line dry my dyed fabrics because I don't want to deal with fraying edges of the fabric that might happen in the dryer.

OOPS  Not what you expected.  There's always a do over here, just add your fabric to your bleach wash and it will be back to original color.

Now if I had to do large yardage of fabric I would have to find another way to do it, a pot even a pasta pot will hold just so much fabric. If I'm making a pillow I'll dye the fabric after the pattern pieces have been cut. I also find small scrap amounts of fabric that I have on hand and give them the bath also. 

 The top fabric on these pillows is a osnaburg fabric that I tea dyed to give it an aged look. The bottom portion of the pillow was an upcycled fabric from an aged seen better days pillow.

Tutorials are great but it's been my experience that you just need to get in there and get your hands dirty (try it)  If you have any questions let me know I'd love to help.