Have you ever mistakenly spilled coffee on your shirt? If you have, then you know how powerful and stubborn those stains are. What if we tell you, you can use coffee to dye your fabrics naturally! You will end up with a beautiful dark brown tanned fabric just by using some home-found materials.
It is great for clothes that you have accidentally stained with coffee, or you can get a little creative and make custom fabrics for embroidery, quilts, and cross-stitch.
The types of fabric you use matter. Different types of fabrics will accept the dye quicker than some others. For instance, a fabric made from 100% wool will give the best results compared to the cotton fabric as it can start to lose its color after a while. If you dye a white-colored fabric the end product is pure in the tan color of coffee, but if you try to dye something that already has a color, the result will be not as you expected to be or will be a little muddy. These things won’t hurt you, but knowing them doesn’t hurt either, so you’ll be tension-free for your future dye projects.
Now go grab a cup of coffee and let’s get started!
Materials and Tools Required
- Brewed or instant coffee
- Clothing or Fabric
- A large container or bowl
- Spoon (recommended wooden)
Preparing the Coffee and Fabric
Get a clean fabric that doesn’t have sizing on it (a substance used to protect textile or paper). So, if you plan to dye a new piece of clothing or fabric, it will be better to wash it first. If the fabric is laundered, you can just soak it in water, make sure it is sufficiently wet.
You can mix a pitcher for an instant brew or brew a large pot of coffee. Using a darker roast or strong-flavored coffee will affect the dye to be darker. Also, how much time the fabric was sitting in the coffee dye, and what type of roast was used on coffee affects the result.
Dye the Fabric
Add the wet fabric or cloth into the container or bowl. To achieve even color on the material, make sure to use a large bowl so your fabric has enough space and doesn’t wrinkle up.
Add in the coffee you have prepared for the dye and use a wooden spoon to keep stirring the fabric. Stirring will help the fabric to soak up the coffee evenly. And the regular movement of fabric by stirring will help it to open up so there won’t be any cloth clung together.
Also, decide how long you want to leave your fabric in that coffee bowl because the longer it sits, the darker dye you will get.
If you want a very light tan, wait for few minutes before you take out the cloth. But if you are looking for a darker toned tan, make sure to leave the fabric for 15-30 minutes or better for a night. Achieving that dark brown color tone will require a strong, darkly roasted coffee, and letting the cloth sit at least for 6 hours is a must.
Also, remember when you lift up the fabric to wash it, know that the shade you are currently looking at is going to get a little lighter once it has been washed.
Finishing the Process
Take out your cloth carefully. Prepare a bowl filled with hot water and add two tablespoons of vinegar (depends on how big your fabric/cloth is). Let the fabric sit in the water to soak, and let the vinegar set the dye perfectly. After around 10 minutes, you can remove the fabric and wash it underwater to eliminate any of the remaining coffee dye. Once you start to see clear water coming out from the other side of the fabric, you are almost done with the dyeing process.
To fix the color of the dye on the fabric, let it dry and later you can iron it. If you don’t want to dry it naturally by air, you can use a dryer with a recommended setting that your fabric offers.
Some Other Ways to Dye
This was the most you need to know about dyeing your fabric evenly with good results. But if you want to know other techniques that you can use to dye using coffee, here they are!
Just like usual tie-dyeing, which includes folding, twisting, or tieing a shirt or any other fabric, you do the same but with the help of coffee dye.
If you don’t know much about this process you can follow any tie-dyeing process by watching a video tutorial, just use coffee as the dye and give it some time to capture the color.
You can use a different levels of roast and flavors of the coffee to get a variety of brown/tan shades.
To get that creative color and different shades pattern on your fabric, rub or scatter-soaked coffee grounds on your wet fabric. Let the rubbed color sit, to let it appear as splotches.
Repeat the process or add more coffee dye to get new layers of colors.
No matter which processes you use, you can finish it up by washing with water and using the standard method we use to set the color of the dye (which we discussed how to use vinegar)
The interesting thing about dyeing with coffee or any natural dye is that the outcomes could be different. This might sound a bit scary, but it is pretty fun when you get into the process. So, start experimenting with different coffees and the time you let the fabric sit in the dye, to know which method suits you the best!