Tutorial – Two Techniques for Dyeing and Staining Cotton Lace

I love experimenting and sharing what I learn with others!  I decided to try a few different techniques to add color to vintage cotton lace (purchased on e-bay) by painting and dyeing it.  I have a few new crazy quilt projects in mind and don’t have any lace on hand to match.

I thought I’d share the following two techniques with you:

  1. Hand Painting Lace with Alcohol Inks (top row below)
  2. Microwaved Tea Dyed Lace (bottom two rows)


How to Hand Paint Lace with Alcohol Inks

This process results in rich, saturated color and the dye dries quickly and is permanent. The only downsides I see are the cost (as alcohol dyes are rather inexpensive) and the fact that the inks stain things they come in contact with easily (including your hands!).

Supplies needed:

  • alcohol inks
  • cheap paintbrushes – I recommend one brush per ink color
  • plastic pallete with shallow pans to hold ink
  • surface protection
  • latex or plastic gloves (optional)
  1. Protect your surface – I used aluminum foil with paper towels on top.
  2. Lay lace you wish to paint out flat on your work protected work surface.
  3. Place a few drops of the ink on your palette. Notw – alcohol inks evaporate quickly so you need to move rather fast.
  4. Dip a paint brush into the ink and brush it on the lace where desired. Repeat this process with each color of ink.
Brush Alcohol Ink on Lace with a Paint Brush

Brush Alcohol Ink on Lace with a Paint Brush

5) Turn lace over and see if you need to touch up any spots where the color didn’t saturate all the way through the lace.

I used Adirondack Alcohol Inks – Farmer’s Market Set (Eggplant, Lettuce, Cranberry)

How to Make Microwaved Tea-Dyed Lace:

Supplies needed:

  • Microwavable bowl
  • Cotton Lace
  • 4 cups of water
  • 5 tea bags (berry, cherry or pomegranate for a pink hue)
  • Hot pads or oven mitt for removing hot bowl from microwave
  • Wooden spoon
  • Tongs
  • Plastic cutting board or other surface that won’t be stained by tea (used for drying)
  1.  Pour 4 or 5 cups of water into bowl and add tea bags
  2. Place bowl in microwave and microwave on HIGH for 4 minutes
  3. Add a few pieces of cotton lace and stir water/tea bags well with wooden spoon – be sure to “squish” (technical term, huh?) the tea bags to push more of the tea color into the water.
  4. Microwave the lace/tea mixture for 2 more minutes on high.
  5. Using Hot pads or oven mitt, remove bowl from microwave.  Using tongs look at the color of the lace.  If you’re happy with the shade, remove the lace and lay flat on the cutting board to dry.   If you want a deeper color, allow the lace to soak longer and keep checking every few minutes until it reaches the desired color. Consider documenting the type of tea used and the amount of time the lace or fabric was soaked in the tea so you can recreate the colors you like best.
I Used Celestial Seasonings “Wild Cherry Blackberry” Herb Tea to Make this Pink Hue


Lay Tea-dyed Lace on a Non-porous Surface to Dry
You Can See that Synthetic Lace Doesn’t Absorb the Tea – Bottom Row


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