I know I said I'd do a post about tea dyeing my sheets, so here it is (months later). I wanted to do this because I couldn't find much information online when I started researching, so hopefully this will help someone else dye their sheets/drapes/pillow/dress/etc.
The method is pretty straight-forward, that wasn't the hard part.
Step one: brew black tea (such as good ole Lipton's)
Step two: submerge your fabric in the tea
Step three: wait as long as you want
Step four: remove, rinse, enjoy (your new tea dyed fabric, not the tea itself)
I wanted to do my sheets because they were whitewhitewhite and my quilt is an off white. It looked bizarre, as demonstrated by the poor quality picture below.
I knew my sheets wouldn't fit in my big pot I used to dye my lace curtains, so the tub was the only option. This was one of my unanswered questions.
Q: Will the tea stain my vinyl tub?
The short answer is yes.
However, when it was all over, (it ended up taking several hours) I immediately let the water out and scrubbed that sucker. And you know what ended up saving the day (again)? The trusty Magic Eraser. They don't play around. So my advice is this:
A: To avoid stains, act quickly and scrub with a trusted cleaning solution
Q: How long should I soak my fabric?
A: It really does depend on the fabric. Natural fibers work best for dyeing. When I stained my curtains (which are polyester) I only needed them to be a little duller than they already were, so I did about 10-12 minutes and let them dry outside.
The sheets (cotton) took much longer because they were very white to begin with, and there was much more fabric involved. I used a pillowcase as a test, and I left it in for 45 minutes. See the difference below:
When I did the rest (sheet, fitted sheet, and other pillow case), I left it in there for about an hour... two times. (More on that later) I recommend stirring things around (with a wood spoon... I don't recommend shoving your hand into lava hot water) every 10-15 minutes to make sure everything is submerged (air pockets push areas up).
After about an hour (maybe even a little longer), I used my husband's man-strength to lug my sopping wet sheets to the dryer for the spin cycle.
Q: Should I wash my sheets immediately or will that undo the stain?
A: Dry them first to set the stain, then wash normally.
I couldn't find much information, so I called my mother-in-law (AKA the Stain Terminator) to ask about tea stains. She said even she has been hard pressed to get a tea stain out once it has dried and really set in. I didn't want to risk it, so I used the spin cycle then dried them to set the stain first. I then put them on my bed and huffed and puffed because they weren't dark enough. When they were wet they looked much darker (makes sense)... So I decided to do it all over again.
Yep... I brewed a whole new batch of tea and started over.
Q: How many tea bags should I use?
A: Again, totally up to how dark you want it, but I used at least 6 for a set of sheets in a tub (each time). For a smaller job, such as the curtains, I only used 2 in a big pot.
I used my huge pot to boil water with all the tea bags in it (dipping them in and out helps move things along), then I poured the tea into the tub. I added water from the faucet (fortunately our water really does get lava hot) until I thought there was enough to cover the sheets. Then I threw the sheets in, tried to get rid of some of the air pockets, and let them stay in for another hour.
Spin cycle, dry, put them on the bed with fingers crossed, and hurrah! I was happy. Then I took them back off and washed them properly, detergent and all, with fingers crossed that it wouldn't undo the last 3+ hours of work.
Not a great picture, but they are just about the same shade of off-white now.
Q: Will my sheets smell like tea, thus will I smell like tea every morning?
A: Nope! Especially not after you wash them.
I haven't had any problems since tea dyeing my sheets. It's possible they have lightened a bit, but nothing noticeable. There has been no smell, no skin irritation, I have washed them several times since. So if you have something that it a bright white and you wish to give it a softer, more worn or antique shade, I highly recommend tea dyeing. If you have any other questions, I'd be happy to try to answer them!
In other news:
I took a glass-blowing class! It was a Groupon find. Nashville has some really great deals on Groupon (more than just pedicures and restaurants) and I have always though glass art was so interesting and under-appreciated. I have also taken a class on stained glass. I made this little tumbler with my own two hands and lungs.
Try something new. Take a class on wine tasting or cake decorating. Check out your city's Groupons.