DIY Crafts

Give white fabric a new look using tea leaves

Don't throw out your old, white bed linens and tablecloths — give them a spring refresh with this easy tea-dye technique.


Photo, Roberto Caruso. Prop styling, Julia Black. Craft, Megan Thomas.

Maybe your cream tablecloth has seen better days, or your white bed linens are looking a little tired. Don’t let them languish in a closet. Try your hand at dying them instead with natural, eco-friendly tea. We loved ours so much we turned it into the backdrop for a peaceful corner complete with a few other vintage finds.

Tea-dye fabric instructions

1. Prime your fabric (natural ones like cotton and linen work best) by boiling it in a large pot with four parts cold water and one part vinegar for one hour. Let it cool and rinse.

2. Next, fill the pot with water and tea (about one cup of tea leaves to six cups of water), bring to a boil and steep until it reaches your desired colour. We used hibiscus flowers for our pink fabric, but camomile, gunpowder green tea and Darjeeling all work. Since laundry detergent will remove any coffee or tea stains add a mordant like tin, chrome, cream of tartar or alum to the dye. Remove tea leaves with a strainer and add fabric to water.  Turn off the burner and let the fabric soak until colour is as deep as you like.

Striped blankets, West Elm. Plaid blanket, Angus and Company.