Thanks to Numi Organic Tea for sponsoring this post.
I don’t buy the old style rule about not wearing white after Labor Day, but I do like to bring warm fall tones into my wardrobe as the weather cools down. I had a white off-the-shoulder top that wasn’t getting much use in my summer rotation, so I decided it would be the perfect test subject for a DIY ombre dye experiment.
Traditional textile dyes can be hazardous to your health and irritate sensitive skin, so I started hunting around for examples of natural dye alternatives, and ultimately decided to brew up my own concoction using a blend of Rooibos, Black, and Turmeric teas. The blend of Rooibos and Turmeric proved to be a winning combination, bringing in tones of blush and mustard, both big hits for fall, while the black tea provided a base tone to ensure proper color saturation. Read on to make your own ombre top…
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
- Stock Pot
- Tap Water
- 15 Black Tea Bags, 15 Numi Rooibos Tea Bags, 4 Numi Turmeric Tea Bags, with all tags removed
- White or Cream Natural Fabric Textiles (I used a white cotton top)
- White Vinegar
- Stove Top
- Test fabric (optional, but useful if you want to be sure that the end result won’t surprise you)
- Fill a stock pot halfway with regular tap water. Place on stovetop and heat until boiling.
- Take all the hang tags off of 15 Rooibos tea bags, 15 black tea bags, and 4 Turmeric tea bags.
- Once water is boiling, add tea bags to the pot. Simmer and steep for 10-15 minutes.
- While tea is steeping, visualize your garment in 3 sections. You will need to keep these sections in mind as you dip dye to achieve a noticeable ombre effect.
- Run your garment under cool tap water, then wring out the excess moisture before placing in dye bath.
- Turn off heat. Do not remove tea bags.
- Clip the shoulders of your damp garment to a hanger for easier maneuvering, then submerge garment to highest point you want dyed (I left a small portion near the top of my garment white). Immediately remove the top third of the garment for a light wash of color. This will be the lightest section.
- Make sure the rest of your garment is aligned as straight as possible with surface of the dye bath to get an even ombre effect. Set your timer for 15 minutes and let the bottom 2/3 steep.
- After 15 minutes, remove the middle third of your garment from the dye bath. Make sure the bottom third is still completely submerged, then let steep for an hour or more. At this point, I took my stock pot off of the now cool burner and placed it outside in direct sun to keep the dye bath warm.
- After one hour, remove your garment and see if desired effect has been achieved. If not, continue steeping.
- Once you are ready, remove your garment, rinse lightly under cool, running water, then place in a clean pot comprised of 1/2 cool water and 1/2 white vinegar. This will help seal the dye.
- Rinse through once more, then let your garment dry.
- Wash sparingly to maintain dye saturation.
As you can see, the rinsed and dried garment will be considerably lighter in color than it appeared while still saturated in tea. Keep that in mind and steep longer if you want a darker effect. I love this pretty yellow and blush-tan ombre and I think it suits my complexion better than the original top.
Have you dyed with tea or other natural dyes? I’m trying out indigo next!
See my other collaborations with Numi here.
Leah Wise is the founder of StyleWise Blog. She has been writing, speaking, and consulting on sustainable fashion, the fair trade and secondhand supply chain, and digital marketing for over ten years. An Episcopal priest, Leah holds a B.A. in Religion from Florida State University and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. When not working, you can find her looking for treasures at the thrift store.