DIY Primitive Decor – Tea and Coffee Dye Paper, Tags and Muslin Dolls!

Are you looking for a certain aged look in your invitations, tags, or even muslin dolls? To create that aged, primitive look it can be done by tea staining or even sometimes coffee dyeing depending on how dark and rich you would like the outcome. Here are a few simple methods for tea staining and coffee dyeing.

Tea Staining Paper and Tags:
1. First, you want to brew really strong tea. So for one kettle full of water you will want about ten tea bags. Then let it cool.
2. Take your now room temperature tea and pour it into something shallow like a sheet pan or even an old paint holder that you get at your local hardware store. The idea is to have some thing shallow but large enough to fit several sheets of paper. Submerge your paper into the pan and make sure all the paper gets wet. Uncoated paper or even construction paper works best.
3. Leave your paper in the tea for at least a day. The longer you leave the paper in the tea the darker it will get.
4. Finally, let each sheet dry on some paper towels. And you now have aged paper. You could also try drying them in the oven. Make sure you keep an eye on the paper to be sure that it does not burn. If you are wanting to print on the paper, make sure that it is printed on before the dyeing process, otherwise the tea dyed paper can only be hand written on.

You can use this same concept for dyeing tags. Use about four or five tea bags for about 20 tags and place in a bowl instead of a shallow pan. Then let dry.
Coffee Dyeing Tags:
1. First boil one cup of water and then mix in the instant coffee and a few drops of vanilla.
2. Apply the coffee/vanilla mixture to both sides of the tag with a sponge brush and place on rack to dry.
3. Apply lightly until you have experimented with the amount that will work well for the effect you wish to achieve. If you wish tags to have a speckled appearance mist with water to where it forms light drops on the tags. As the tags dry turn them every so often. If you wish darker tags, just repeat the process.
Tea Staining and Coffee Dyeing Muslin Dolls:
Tea staining is the more mild technique of the two – it will give you lightly stained, yellowish-brown areas on the muslin fabric.

Adding one tea bag to half a cup of water and let it brew for about 10 minutes. Then using an old sponge or sponge brush, to soak up some of the tea and blot it onto the muslin doll. The more tea dye you use, the darker the stain will be. Your muslin doll will get pretty wet after this process, so you can let it sit out in the sun or try baking it in the oven at about 200 degrees for a few minutes to dry it. Reapply additional coats of tea dye as necessary.

Coffee dyeing is the most common method for making muslin dolls grungy and primitive like because it creates a darker, richer stain color that makes the dolls look more old than tea dyeing does.

You can create your coffee dye by mixing 5 tablespoons of instant coffee in half a cup of hot water. Add a few drops of vanilla extract to for a great scent. To stain your muslin dolls with the coffee dye, you can use the same method described above for the tea dye by using a sponge to blot the dye on and then baking the doll in the oven. You can also spray tea or coffee dye on with a spray bottle, or dry your dolls outside in the sun on a warm day.

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  1. I went looking how to tea dye muslin, there you are again…my favorite shopping place also has ideas….I made a sampler for a friend for Christmas, I already embroider, I tea dyed it…oh my it came out sooooo beautiful, she will love it…thanks again, your site is my favorite, great shopping, great prices, luv the primitive, fast shipping, great customer service…you are a definetly a 10

    1. You are making me blush Annie, thank you for all the kind words about our company! I am so glad we were able to help you with your tea dying project. I am sure your friend will love your sampler too!

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