Dyeing fabric with coffee is a technique used when you want to make your fabric look primitive. It makes muslin and calico fabrics look antiqued. The longer your fabric sets in the coffee mixture, the more stained it becomes. It doesn’t matter if you use instant, espresso or regular coffee; they will all work. How to dye fabric with coffee is a lot like how you dye fabric with tea. But, the color results are slightly different. Just like dying with any natural material, no two items used in dyeing give the same shade of color. Therefore coffee stains fabric in a different shade of brown than tea does.
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Recipe for Dyeing Fabric with Coffee
This is a basic stain you can use on all your cloth primitive craft projects. This method of how to dye fabric with coffee is a stay-on method, meaning the dye mixture remains on the fabric. Alternately, some are left for a certain time, then rinsed out. This one will make your fabric more antiqued and grubby looking. Therefore, if you like a really primitive look, this recipe is for you.
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- muslin or cotton print fabric
- A large bowl
- Wood spoon
- 4-5 cups water, heated to boiling
- 1/2 cup instant coffee
- Vanilla extract, a few dashes
- 5-7 small cinnamon sticks
- 2-3 nutmeg, slightly grated
- 2-3 nutmeg
- Small handful of whole cloves
- Small sponge brush
- Start by preparing your fabric. Wash and dry the fabric. It removes the sizing (starch) in the fabric which prevents the stain from soaking into the fibers.
- Carefully fill the bowl with hot water. Don’t overfill. You don’t want hot water pouring over the bowl’s edge.
- Add in the coffee and vanilla.
- Mix it will until coffee is dissolved.
- Gather spices into a piece of cheesecloth and tie closed with string, into a ball shape.
- Push the spice ball under the coffee mixture with your wooden spoon. And, leave it with the spoon holding it down for at least 30 minutes.
- Take out the spice bag. Set it in a sunny window to dry out. It can be used a couple more times.
- Layout your fabric on a protected surface, and brush on the mixture over your fabric.
- Let the fabric dry in a sunny area until dry.
Dyeing fabric with coffee varies in the method. The strength of the coffee, the type of roast, and the fabric blend all weigh in on the time it takes to get the depth of color you desire. A light stain takes just a few minutes. A deeper color may take up to 30 minutes.
Some use brewed coffee and soak the fabric. The longer it soaks, the deeper the color you get. I recommend you try a few methods with small pieces of fabric until you find the one you like the most. However, this one is easy and gets you excellent results to use for primitive dolls and home decor. And, remember, with all dye projects, wear protective clothing you don’t mind getting messy. An apron you don’t mind getting stained protects your favorite shirt!