Just like sepia toned photographs, staining fabric with coffee can give it a warm antiqued look. If you are looking for information on how to stain a shirt with coffee, you first need to know that natural fibers will take the coffee stain much better than synthetic fibers. Natural fibers include cotton, wool, hemp, linen, and muslin. Synthetic fibers, such as polyester and acrylic, are actually engineered in the lab to be resistant to coffee stains so these would be a poor choice of material for this project.
The procedure for dyeing a shirt with coffee is actually quite simple but there are a few nuances that you need to know. Step-by-step instructions are given below on how to dye a shirt with coffee:
How to Stain a Shirt with Coffee
1. Pre-wash your natural fiber shirt. Dirt and stains can make the coffee stain the shirt unevenly. Additionally, if the shirt is brand new, it may have been coated with a stain resistant chemical that you will need to remove by washing it several times.
2. Brew a pot of coffee or mix some instant coffee in boiling water.
3. Fill a large container with warm to hot water. Make sure the container is large enough that the shirt can float in the water without tightly crinkling.
4. Wet the shirt thoroughly in the container and then remove it temporarily from the water.
5. Add the coffee to the container of water and mix well. For a darker stain, add more coffee.
6. Add the shirt to the coffee brew. Use a long spoon to gently move the shirt through the water to remove the air pockets and ensure the coffee dye gets evenly distributed. Avoid crinkling the shirt as this will cause the coloration to have a crumpled paper effect, unless that is what you going for.
7. Soak the shirt in the coffee brew for at least 20 minutes, gently stirring occasionally. If you want a darker color, you will need to soak it longer. However, an hour or so will give you the darkest color you can achieve with your coffee concentration and fabric. Keep in mind that the darkest color you can expect starting with a bright white shirt is a warm sienna color.
8. Once you are satisfied with the color, take the shirt out and immediately rinse it in pure water until the water runs clear.
9. Let the shirt dry naturally or run it through the dryer on medium to low heat. Keep in mind that the color will be lighter after the fabric dries
Fabrics dyed with coffee are not completely colorfast and they will fade with each washing. You can slow this fading process by hand-washing the shirt using a a gentle soap like Woolite. You can also make the coffee stained shirt more colorfast by soaking the shirt overnight in one tablespoon of vinegar in one gallon of water.
You need to be aware that coffee can leave a very noticeable stain in a white bathtub, a white sink, and many types of kitchenware. For this reason, it is best to use a container that you don’t care if it is stained for this project.
I hope this how to stain a shirt with coffee tutorial is helpful. Good luck to you in your project!