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Tips & Techniques > Changing bright colours to dusky (using coffee dye)

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Posted by: Dilliander
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Posted on: 9/27/12 0:27 AM
Review Rating: Helpful by 1 people   Very Helpful by 7 people   
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I recently had my colours done and found I am now a "dusky warm light". Luckily many of the fabrics I've collected are in this palette. However a few are on the brighter rather than duskier side of warm, such as this mesh with bursts of white and bright green amongst the dusky background. In this instance I only needed a subtle change, so tried coffee.

Hypothesis:

That fabric with warm bright colours can be transformed into warm dusky hues using coffee.

Technique:

Test sample using a corner of fabric submerged in strong espresso coffee undiluted for 20 minutes.

Effect undiluted on bright greens steeped for 20 mins (on left, with original fabric on right)

Effect undiluted on white, as above for 20 mins (on left, with original fabric on right)

Happy with this I submerged the full length in a double shot (over run each time to extract all colour from the coffee). Despite my optimism this wasn't enough voume so I added water until the fabric was covered (diluting the coffee) and let it soak longer (for 30 minutes).

Final result double strength diluted even the towel is a good match

Verdict:

This technique worked quite well in reducing the brightness of colours without significantly darkening them, the effect is subtle, but visible when compared with the original print and imbues warm light tones on white areas.

Update:

You may also be interested in version 2 using tea bags to over dye a linen knit from a bright pink to a dusky salmon.

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10 Comments
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sewpelican said...
Really good info, thank you. What fabric are you dyeing, natural or manmade fibres?
9/27/12 3:44 AM
Dilliander said...
Just checked my notes sewpelican and its a rayon/cotton/lycra mesh
9/27/12 3:56 AM
Dilliander said...
Just checked my notes sewpelican and its a rayon/cotton/lycra mesh
9/27/12 4:18 AM
Laurie Lou said...
I just saw this in time. I got a yellow that is way too bright and think I'll try this...might be all it needs and it's cotton so it should take quite well. Thanks for all the info here!
9/28/12 5:12 PM
Laurie Lou said...
I just saw this in time. I got a yellow that is way too bright and think I'll try this...might be all it needs and it's cotton so it should take quite well. Thanks for all the info here!
9/28/12 5:13 PM
Laurie Lou said...
I just saw this in time. I got a yellow that is way too bright and think I'll try this...might be all it needs and it's cotton so it should take quite well. Thanks for all the info here!
9/28/12 5:13 PM
Sancin said...
Thanks - I have some fabric I have wanted to do this for for a long time. I find it difficult to find muted coloured fabric. Will have to give this a try! However, I will have to buy some coffee - any suggestions as to type? ;-)
9/28/12 8:04 PM
Oh2Sew2 said...
Nice idea for softening a color. By the way, who did you consult about doing you personal colors? I've heard people talk about getting them done but I have no clue as to who does this. Thanks!
9/29/12 10:05 PM
Dilliander said...
Hi Sancin, I used freshly ground espresso coffee beans because that was what I had, although it makes for an expensive dye and I was reluctant to use too many of my beans! I do plan to try coffee granules as well and have also used tea bags (see updated link above). I'm not sure yet if the blend/roast makes a difference to the colour.
9/30/12 8:54 PM
Dilliander said...
Thanks Oh2Sew2. We were lucky to have Wendy Walters run a colour workshop at our ASG group. It was a lot of fun. If you live in Sydney Wendy runs similar courses in Penrith.
9/30/12 9:00 PM
 
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