Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How to Tea Stain a Wedding Dress

Five dollars for this set of sleeves! I was a crazy woman at the estate sale where I found these! I swooped them all up and put them in my bag. I brought my own bags, ready to get ahold of as much as possible!

I'm always so amazed how much stores charge for one yard of bridal lace! Then I usually take it home and tea stain it. SO it got me thinking, what if I buy a cheap wedding dress at a thrift store and tea stain the whole thing. So I hit the thrift stores and Goodwill and came home with two dresses. Both for under $30. 

1. Thrift store wedding dress
2. Three boxes of family size tea bags
3. A very large kettle or large pots to boil the tea in
4. Salt, uniodized (it's cheaper
5. White Vinegar
6. Old sheet
7.Safty pins
9. Pair of long tongs, bbq ones work great, clean of coarse
10. A day where you have time to complete this process without stress, kids or dogs. The reason I say no kids or dogs is because the tea will be very, very hot.

Let's get started!
1. Cut out the toule and underskirt which you can save and stain later. There just isn't room do do all of the dress. This will cut out some of the bulk.
2. Using a giant kettle and two larges pots, (or three pots) boil the tea bags to a slow boil then turn the heat off and let the tea set for about 20 minutes. I usually will add an entire box of tea bags to each pot or kettle.  Don't boil to hard, the tea bags will break!
3. Pour at least two cups salt into tub, then put a strainer in the plastic tub to catch the tea bags and carefully pour the tea into the plastic tub. Pour, strain, then throw out the tea bags. Do this for all three containers. You want enough liquid to cover the dress or at least be able to move the dress around in.
4. Wearing your gloves and using your tongs if you want pick up the dress flip it over and put the other side in the deepest part of the tea bath. Remember it will be HOT! The whole idea is to get the dress well covered, over and over. This part of the process is messy which is why I do it i the back yard. This usually takes about 30-40 mins. When you're agitating the dress yourself, the tea gets everywhere! When you're satisfied with the color, hang the dress wrong side out on a ladder, draping the dress over the length of the ladder. Yes it might get a little dirty but you will be washing it.
I wish I had hung this a little prettier with the flowers in the background!
This one was much more delicate, much older so it took the stain much darker.

5. Let the dress dry all the way, in case of bad weather, hang it in the garage with plastic underneath, because it will drip a lot.
6.The next day, pour several cups of white vinegar and water into the tub you used for the tea stain. Place the dress into this solution. Remember you want enough solution to be able to swish the dress around.This is going to set the tea stain. Remember when using a poly blend fabric, it may not hold the color as long or as dark.
7. Swish this around, rinsing the dress. Pour out the excess vinegar/water solution.
8. Now, lay the sheet flat on the grass or garage floor and place the dress in the middle. Using the large safety pins, pin the sheet around the dress, making a pouch of the sheet with the dress inside.
9 Place in washing machine using a mild soap and downey,or whatever you like to use) and use the gentle cycle. When finished, hang to dry. DO NOT put it in the dryer! Some of the sequins could melt!
10. Enjoy!
It's amazing that I lost so little beading.
It took most of the day for this to dry because it was so big. I had to keep repositioning it to dry all the way!
I can just imagine a beautiful bride wearing this, the sun is out, her bouquet is vintage in style, maybe,  a small nosegay of violets?
You're all finished! If you have any questions, please email me anytime! Just keep checking your thrift stores and goodwill online. Thanks for joining me for my first tutorial! How did I do?


Doni said...

Cindy, That's absolutely fabulous! Gorgeous job! Thanks so much for sharing that with us, and I love the pics of the laces in the sun! So pretty! Blessings, Doni

Susan said...

What a lovely idea to tea stain a thrift store wedding dress. I just may have to try this.

gracie said...

A wonderful idea....and beautiful results

Charlene said...

What is the chance that a really good friend could buy some of that amazing tea stained lace to do a pillow for a swap for my California trip??????

Thanks for the tutorial on the tea dye. LOVE it!!!1 But, I want to go thrifting with you & get a whole dress & try this!!!! I sent you info on Gilded Life Event coming up. Check it out & call me. HUGS!

Sandy Navarro said...

LOVE IT! So glad I live in CA cuz I think there's gonna be a shortage of cheap wedding dresses at your local thrift stores! I'll be on the hunt this weekend. Thanks for sharing such a FabUlous idea.

Karen Valentine said...

Yes, I too have been on the hunt here in AZ. No luck though. :( Thank you for sharing this my friend! I can't wait to find a dress to play with!

Devonay@LumpkinAndMe said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing this great idea! They turned out beautifully!!!!!

Lea said...

This is so cool and what a great idea to get the dress at the Goodwill or Thrift Store. Great entry!

The English Romantic said...

I just bought an ivory silk wedding dress for £15 in a charity shop. It has yards and yards of silk dupion. I'm going to CUT yes cut it up and hand dye it. I am just spending a bit of time thinking about it first.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful dresses ... beautiful lace ...
Thank you for the precise steps on the tea-staining process. The final look is one fit for a fairy-tail princess!

Anonymous said...

Hi Cindy,
I'm back again ... I have something waiting for you on my blog this morning. When you have a moment, please stop by and pick it up! Wishing you a wonderful day!


Feathers and Flight said...

Hello Cindy!
Oh My Gosh!!! I am Going to Try this!!!The Result is Fabulous! Thank You for Sharing the How Too!
Also I want to Give you a Great Big Thank for your Very Sweet Words you Blessed me With! You Really Mad My Day and also I Have to Admit Made Me Tear up!Thank You. Thank you. Your Words Meant a Great Deal to Me!
Have a Wonderful Day Cindy!
Great Big Hugs!

Marilou of Lulu's Lovlies said...

Hi Cindy What is the salt supposed to do, I knew about the vinegar and tea, Salt?? Just curious, Thanks Hugs and Blessings Marilou

Kim said...

Love this tutorial Cindy! And what a great deal you got on those dresses....I can't find one for under $150 at our thrift stores in PA!

Katherine ( Katie) Corrigan said...

Fabulous post and tutorial, well done, with a lovely result.I'm blog hopping today, so happy I found your lovely blog. Wishing you happiness, Katherine

hpwillow25 said...

I did this to a dress I found in a wedding shop off the rack and wanted to use for my convention coming up but it was just tooooooo white. It came out so woderful I can't wait to shine in it. I will send you before and after pictures when its dry!!!!!!!!!!!

Kelly Hill said...

I'm praying someone still checks this. I have a wedding dress I'm wanting to tea dye but am quite nervous as I can't buy another if this fails. My dress right now is stark white. I am going for a boho chic style & would love the darker tint. It's polyester with a lace overlay which is 70% nylon & 30% rayon. ANY suggestions would be so greatly appreciated. Thoughts? IS this possible? Too dangerous?

Unknown said...

Thank you for this tutorial! I go to a thrift store that has a specific color tag half off each week. On Saturdays, whatever garments of that color haven't sold go down in price to just $ .69 each. This week I picked up 5 (!) wedding dresses for 69 cents each. (Thrift store price was $89.00 each)
I'm a bit overwhelmed with all that luscious fabric...tulle...lace! I think I'll try to tea dye at least one! After salvaging what I need, I will donate fabric to the wonderful program that makes little gowns from wedding fabric for stillborn babies.
Thanks for this!

Rebekah Grier said...

Thank you for the inform. Just finished take a 30 year wedding dress that belonged to my BFF and remade it for her daughter. I tea stained it to better blend the old fabric with the new. It came out beautiful. Thanks again. Rebekah.

Drew Watts said...

You have shared very useful information on wedding dresses. Last month, arranged my best friend’s wedding at one of best Chicago wedding venues. Booked of best local wedding caterer and managed everything perfectly!

Forever Fashionably Late said...

Wow! This turned out so beautiful!

Unknown said...


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