03 October 2008

Tutorial: Coffee Dyed Fabric

It all began when I decided to make new covers for the living room throw pillows. The colors were exactly what I wanted, but after, I noticed that the blue curtains I had hanging did NOT go with the new color scheme.

The blue curtains were made from a garage sale sheet. I just cut stripes and hung them over nails. So, what could I replace them with? Given the size of my budget (um, zero!), I went through all the fabric I have ---- and find nothing I can use. Then I remember another garage sale sheet I have. There is plenty of fabric, but it is a white sheet - too bright for my scheme.

Since the sheet is 100 percent cotton, I decide to dye it. I first consider tea dyeing, then decide to try coffee dyeing to get a darker color. I've never tried coffee dyeing, so I go to my standby - Google. A search turns up several tutorials, and I found this one to be most helpful. What I really like about this is I can reuse the grounds that I normally throw away after I make my coffee each day. So I am able to recycle a sheet that is getting too thin to use on my bed and the coffee grounds that normally get thrown away each day.

I drink several cups of coffee each day, so saving coffee grounds was not a problem! I took a large plastic container, and added my grounds to it each day. If I had a bit of black coffee left, I poured that in as well.


Here is the container with the saved grounds and coffee, and an old, plastic storage container.








To do the dye, first take everything outside!!! I am serious - it will make a mess. Into the old storage container, I dumped in the coffee grounds, leftover sludge, and some additional water.





Mixed it well and added the fabric, making sure there was enough liquid to cover the sheet. Then, I mixed it around and rubbed the grounds into the fabric to get a bit more color.

Then I let it sit and soak. After about 15 minutes, I shifted the fabric around. And waited some more. Another 15 minutes, and more shifting. And more waiting.





In all, I let it soak over an hour, trying to get the color dark enough. Then I added some vinegar to the water (the tutorial I referenced suggested using alum, which I did not have, or vinegar. I didn't really measure it, just poured some in - probably about 1/3 cup) and let it soak about 15 more minutes.





I pulled out the sheet, wrung out as much liquid as I could, and draped the sheet over my patio table and chairs to dry. Since I did not rinse the sheet (because I did not want to remove the color) there were a lot of coffee grounds stuck to it. They do fall off as the fabric dries which is why this project should be done outside! I dumped the grounds and liquid in the grass.




It was a warm and windy day, so the fabric dried in a few hours (and out of the sun, so it wouldn't bleach any of the color out). I shook it well to get all the dried coffee grounds off and looked at the color. It was pretty much what I expected. I'm still not sure it will be dark enough for the look I want in the living room, but that is a different issue for another time. Then I used a dry iron to iron the fabric and help set the color.

The final step - sweep the patio! I'm still finding coffee grounds in corners, but eventually they will all be gone.

And that's it - dyeing with coffee. It really was easy to do, a bit of a mess, but easy to clean up if done outside. And as an added bonus - it cost nothing! I was able to reuse an old sheet and used coffee grounds instead of throwing them away.

Now, to go through my fabric and see what else could benefit from coffee dye-------

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