How to Make Fabric Look Old

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If you are a crafter, you might want to learn how to make fabric look old to use in a crafting project. Many crafting items are made from fabric that is new but has been treated to appear old. The antique look is very popular for many different crafting projects.
Making your new fabric look old is not difficult and this technique is surprisingly effective for making fabric look like it is distressed and antique.

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric
  • Stock pot
  • 8 to 10 black tea bags
  • Water
  • Long-handled spoon
  • Long-handled tongs
  • Large bowl
  • Short length of string (optional)
  • Pillowcase (optional)
  • Coarse sandpaper (optional)
  • Fill the stock pot approximately half full with water. Heat the water to a full boil.

  • Remove the stock pot from the heat source and add the tea bags and steep the tea in the stock pot for several minutes. Stir the tea as it steeps to help the color develop.

  • Place up to 2 yards of fabric into the stock pot and stir with the long-handled spoon to incorporate all of the fabric into the tea.

  • Leave the fabric in the tea for 5 minutes. Then remove the fabric from the pot with long-handled tongs.

  • Place the fabric in a large bowl in a sink and rinse with cold running water for five minutes. Remove as much of the tea as possible while you are rinsing by squeezing the fabric with your hands.

  • Hang the fabric to dry for the most distressed result. For a less distressed result, place the fabric into a pillowcase, secure with a short length of string, and dry in a dryer.

  • Rub coarse sandpaper onto the fabric to achieve even more of a natural-looking and aged appearance after the tea dye if desired.

Tips & Warnings

  • The brewed tea can be reused on other pieces of fabric after the initial use. It can be saved in the refrigerator for several days but be aware that subsequent uses may not produce the same darkness in the fabric.
  • Be careful as you rinse the tea out of the fabric because the fabric will be quite hot. Allow the cold water to cool the fabric sufficiently before you try to squeeze the excess tea water from the fabric.

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