Dyeing for Color Merit Badge, Beginner Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,760 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—9,508 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! ~MaryJane 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life   

For this week’s Beginner Level Stitching and Crafting/Dyeing for Color Merit Badge, I was already a bit of an expert. I mean, I don’t like to brag or anything (“Toot toot!” That may or may not be the sound of my own horn.), but I have been dyeing for a long time now.

I’ve been a brunette, a strawberry blonde, a platinum bombshell, and every shade in between. I’ve had highlights and lowlights, frosted tips, and bleached roots. I’ve had Clairol and Garnier and L’Oreal. I’ve done …

Wait. That’s not what we’re going for?

Well, color me embarrassed.

(Get it? Color me?)

photo by jerebu via Wikimedia Commons

But I could still use my hair color know-how and safety lessons learned in my newfound adventure of dyeing other things besides my tresses. For example: preparing your workstation (or head). Always put on an old shirt that you don’t mind getting stained, and wear gloves, chickadees. Once I went Nicole Kidman-inspired red, and my palms were stained for days. It looked like I had murdered someone. I was housebound for a week, and by the time I could leave, my beautiful locks had faded to Carebear pink. Sigh. Learn from me.

Another precaution before you start playing around experimenting responsibly with dyes, is to choose products that won’t trigger a headache or stomachache, if you are prone to those niggles when an overwhelming odor assaults you. Or, if you must use a chemical-laden dye, do it outside. No one will appreciate your shade of chartreuse on your hand-dyed bedspread if you are face down in it halfway through the procedure, gasping for breath like a fish out of water.

For my first venture into the unknown of Dyeing for Color, I chose tea.

That’s right … tea. It’s not just for breakfast anymore.

photo by Kayla Palmer via Flickr.com

I decided to dye a lovely, vintage lace tablecloth that had a roast chicken stain smackdab in the center. Up ’til now, I had simply plonked a vase of flowers right over the offending mark, but now I had a better plan. Color the whole thing Roast Chicken Drippings.

Side note: Crayola should probably hire me as a color namer. I’m really good at it. Some of the others I’m working on: Wet Seagull, Glistening Pepperoni, Vampire Skin, and Tuna Noodle Casserole Surprise.

Anyway, I was hesitant to use a good-quality tea for something that wouldn’t involve guzzling it, but then I remembered if you are cooking with wine, you should use a wine you’d like to drink. So, I figured the same rule applied here, right? So, I poured myself a glass of wine and got to work. Hee hee.

I brewed up a very large batch of Earl Grey, mixed with Oolong and just a sprinkling of Constant Comment. Your tablecloth may not be so particular, so go with your gut. Darker teas will, of course, dye your fabric a darker color, but don’t worry, even Turkish coffee won’t turn your fibers jet black.

I swirled my tablecloth around in the tea, making sure it was properly submerged and tucking it in gently. Then I left it for about 60 minutes. You can go longer or shorter; just keep checking on your fabric.

Rinse and wring out. If you don’t like the smell of tea, you can wash it out. Although, if you don’t like the smell of tea, well, there’s not a whole lot anyone can do for you.

Line dry, and enjoy your pretty new creation.

Now my tablecloth is less Roast Chicken Drippings, and more Recently Bathed Golden Retriever.

Seriously. Someone get Crayola on the line. I’m on fire.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Hahahahha, you crack me up!! I have done a bit of tea and coffee fabric dyeing and I do like the way it looks. With coffee, I discovered when I had some French Vanilla on hand, that the process smells like a bakery in the kitchen. I am thinking the fragrant teas like Constant Comment or Earl Grey are a really good idea. Hmmm, there is a possible dual badge lurking here…….aromatherapy fabric dyeing. Add some music of choice and a beverage ( I like that wine idea a lot!) and you’ve got an instant throw back to the 1960s when we were blissfully tie dyeing anything that wasn’t alive and able to run away. Now to find my old albums of Jimmi Hendrix and the Four Tops!!

  2. I have never dyed my waist length hair but once years ago I used spray color at halloween, a brilliant glow in the dark pink. Yep you guessed, it it did not wash out quickly and I was still pink hued when I went to work at an ultra conservative German corporation. I was the receptionist and the boss called me into his office and said ” you vill not come to vork until you are no longer glowing ! “.
    I have tried my hand at tea dying and its always messy but fun.

  3. Karlyne says:

    “Recently Bathed Golden Retriever”? Yep, you’re on fire, girl!

  4. Krista says:

    Oh goodness! This had me laughing. I am really digging the color names. They could be for a farmgirls color collection. I have yet to fabric dye with tea but would love to give it a try when summer comes around. It would be nice to start with smaller fabrics like a runner that I can put across my dresser. I will have to play around with some teas to make sure I get the perfect color. This means I will have to indulge in different teas… experimental of course. I can’t wait to explore this badge.

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