How to Use Coffee as a Natural Dye
Coffee is not just for drinking but also makes an effective natural dye.
Although this use for the drink is not that well known, it is helpful to know if
you ever need to create costumes that look aged.
Here is the procedure for dyeing an ostrich feather a beige/ecru color so
they can be used for decorative purposes. Ostrich feathers that have their
natural color are not commercially available and the ones sold at costume
shops are either bleached white or dyed bright colors.
Start with a white bleached feather that will absorb the color well. Make
some double-strength coffee and then put it in a container. Ideally, the
container should be long enough to accommodate the whole feather but if
you can’t find one you can dye it in portions.
You don’t need to moisten the feather before dyeing it. All you have to do is
to submerge the feather in the container long enough for it to absorb the
color. Keep in mind that when the feather dries, it will become a lighter color
than when it was wet so adjust your immersion time accordingly. For
example, if you want the feather to have an ecru color, submerge it for five
minutes. End the process by blow-drying the feather. If you don’t do this,
the feather will look limp and not have its natural fluffy appearance.
You can also use coffee to dye clothes and
give them an aged or mellowed look. However,
you can only use this natural dye with organic
fabrics such as cotton and wool and with
garments that are ‘virgin’, meaning it has
never been worn before. In addition, if you
want to achieve a deep chocolate brown, you
should not use this dye since you will only get
a sienna color at best.
Gather around one to two cups of used
grounds. The more grounds you have
and the darker the roast, the darker the color you get.
Put around one gallon of water for every cup of grounds into a pot.
Bring the water to a boil and then remove from the stove and let
Thoroughly wet the garment that you want to dye since this will make
it accept the dye better.
Keep the grounds in the mixture if you want a darker color or steep
them if you want a lighter shade.
Once the mixture cools, immerse the garment. Leave in for a minimum
of five minutes or overnight depending on the color you want to
achieve. Keep in mind that the color will be lighter once the garment
dries and will not stay the same shade it is when you pull it out of the
Set the dye by adding either two teaspoons of alum or two
tablespoons of vinegar to the mixture.
Remove the garment from the mixture, rinse it thoroughly then let
Wash the garment carefully since the dye will not keep for as long as
commercial dyes and the color will fade over time.
That is it! You now have dyed your clothes for a unique look.
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