Many years ago, primitive crafts became very popular. I was very intrigued by the items I saw but did not have the money to purchase ready made primitives. My quest to learn how to make such craft items as primitive looking dolls, teddy bears and quilts began. I asked around and read several books until I uncovered a special tea staining process that provided a permanent discoloring to 100 percent cotton fabric. I also experimented and learned that a straight tea stain lightens over time. I found this out the hard way but eventually located a stiff tea stain process that stays true to color. I changed the ingredients slightly to help cover the strong coffee and tea odor that occurs during the dying process.
The instructions within this article will easily stain two yards of 100 percent cotton fabric. The process is very time consuming but well worth the effort. After the fabric is stained, it is air dried. I have found that allowing the newly stained fabric to be rained on once creates a softer fabric. The soft fabric creates a more authentic primitive craft item.
Any fabric doll, teddy bear or quilt pattern is a candidate for stiff tea stained primitive crafting cloth. Follow the pattern per its’ instructions to complete the chosen craft project. When making primitive teddy bears or dolls, it is appropriate to stuff them with old clean panty hose cut into strips, sawdust or sand. Fiberfill or plastic bead filling are new inventions but much easier to use.
Things You’ll Need:
100 percent cotton cloth such as muslin
Large canner or stock pot
2 gallons water
8 family size tea bags
1 1/2 cups instant coffee
½ cup vanilla extract
1 cup plain salt
Step 1 – Wash the 100 percent cotton cloth with laundry detergent. Do not dry. The stiff tea stain works the best on a wet fabric.
Step 2 – Place 2 gallons of water in a large canner or stock pot. Bring the water to a boil.
Step 3 – Add the 8 family size tea bags, 1 ½ cups of instant coffee and ½ cup of vanilla extract. Stir the mixture thoroughly. Allow the mixture to simmer 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Note: The vanilla extract is optional. It helps to eliminate the strong smell of the coffee and tea in the fabric.
Step 4 – Remove the tea bags.
Step 5 – Place the wet fabric in the tea and coffee mixture. Allow the fabric to simmer 6 to 8 hours. Stir the fabric occasionally to reposition it in the mixture.
Step 6 – Pour the liquid from the pan. Wring the excess mixture from the fabric.
Step 7 – Add 1 cup plain salt and 2 gallons of water to the pot. Stir the mixture. Place the mixture on the stove and bring it to a boil.
Step 8 – Place the wet stiff tea stained fabric into the salt water mixture. Allow the fabric to simmer for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally and shift the position of the fabric. The salt bath is used to set the color in the fabric. Otherwise, the color will run if it gets wet.
Step 9 – Pour the liquid from the pan. Wring the excess salt mixture from the fabric.
Step 10 – Hang the fabric to air dry.
Tip: Iron the fabric when completely dry prior to starting a primitive craft project.