How Do You Tea Dye a Wedding Veil?


Or should I try to coffee dye it?

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Q: How do you dye a veil with tea or coffee? After a few frustrating days of wedding veil shopping, I finally found the perfect ivory wedding veil online. Or, I thought I did. When it arrived, I quickly realized my “ivory” veil was actually blindingly white, which is definitely not what I was going for. It was a great deal, though. And since I can’t return it, I’d love to make it work if I can.

The obvious solution is to dye it, but the ivory liquid dyes I’ve seen are just kind of… blech. I remember using coffee to make “parchment” paper for a history project in middle school, but I’ve never tried dying any type of fabric (at all). I feel like I might be able to create the natural warm tone I thought I was getting by using tea or maybe coffee? As I mentioned, the veil was a great (I mean, really great) deal, so if I mess it up, the loss isn’t huge.

But I have so many questions for folks who have tried this: Does the color stick to nylon? Does it come out evenly? (I’m imagining weird splotches and tea-colored tie-dye right now.) How strong did you make the tea? Or should I try coffee? What’s the difference between tea dye and coffee dye? And how long did you leave your veil in? Should I wash it after dying it? Just rinse it? Did your veil smell like tea days (or weeks) later? If the veil gets wet on my wedding day, will the color run onto my dress?

did you tea dye or coffee dye your veil? Which did you try? have you tea dyed other fabric? c’mon you crafters, spill. Share all your how-to secrets!

If you want the APW community’s two cents, send it to QUESTIONS AT APRACTICALWEDDING DOT COM, and we’ll do our best to crowdsource you some answers!

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  • Skye

    Sadly, odds are low that any dye will stick to nylon. There are dyes made for synthetics, but to dye with organic substances (tea/coffee) you would need organic fabric (cotton/silk).

  • As Skye says, your problem here is that it’s nylon. If you’ve ever dyed a shirt and found the stitching came out a different colour to the cloth, it’s probably because it was nylon-based. I have seen some recommendations for soaking nylon first in an acid then using a natural dye, but I strongly suspect you’re going to get a very patchy result. You’re safer with a purpose-made dye. If you can’t find an ivory shade you like (pale shades are hard to find because you’re pretty much always dyeing something darker, so there’s less demand for off-white dyes), consider something more ‘out there’ – match it to your bouquet, or your bridesmaids, or your partner’s boutonniere.

    • quiet000001

      Nylon actually likes dye, although it can take it up weirdly. Those color catcher sheets you can get are basically just nylon, and that is also why white bras and other pale nylon items go all weirdly dingy after a while if you aren’t careful. Polyester, on the other hand, is basically plain old plastic and mostly won’t dye at all.

  • Emily

    And if you do get the dye to stick to the nylon, it’s possible the color will run if you even look at water. I’ve used the Rit Dyemore brand for synthetics, you’ll just need to play with the color a bit–so maybe get some scraps at the fabric store and do some tests?

  • Eve

    Actually, dye will stick to nylon very well (my qualifications: art school grad, assistant costume designer with dye experience). Nylon is one of those fibers that basically hoards color! (Like, if you want to experiment, get some cheap nylon at a fabric store, or some nylon tights. You can make them bright). But, you need to make sure you test first. Please test first. If you don’t like it, you don’t want to be stuck with the entire veil a color you hate. So even if there’s an inch you can cut off somewhere, or if you got it someplace that will send you fabric samples, please do it. You only need tiny pieces to test.

    The thing about both tea and coffee is that they often come out with a bit of a yellow hue, and they’re not going to work quite as well as going with a dye like RIT. If you’re okay with that then go for it; if not, you’re probably going to want to do some more experimentation. You can use RIT dye and only use a little bit of it, or mix it with a little blue or red or something to get the exact hue you want. You also can only dip your veil in for a few minutes. There will be a huge difference between being in dye for 2 minutes versus sitting in there for 5.

    I’d google around for some exact steps for dyeing like this. You’re going to definitely want to soak your veil in warm water first and use salt in your dye.

  • Katharine Parker

    No advice, but does tea-dying immediately make anyone else think about the All-of-a-Kind Family?

    • laddibugg

      YUP! First and really only time I’ve heard of it. I soooo wanted to try this but my mom said ‘You better not waste good tea on dying clothes”.

      • Katharine Parker

        Yeah, I think since the book was published, mothers have been telling their children, “you’ll only make a mess.” Mine certainly did! Such good books, though!

    • littleinfinity

      I’m pretty sure this is where I learned the word “ecru” as well.

      • ssha

        I was about to comment this exact thing.

  • LydiaB

    Sorry no advice on dying with tea/coffee but I can recommend using the Dylon polyester dye after trying a couple of none specialist dyes with no luck. I dyed my nylon wedding dress with this and got a beautiful even colour and no shrinking! I boiled it for around 3 hours then rinsed clear with gradually cooler and cooler water!

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/92d309079ea5ee7a0f1b5af6452e84e94d282d41db7676eca8751ea51d3e3196.jpg

    • theteenygirl

      Whaaaat this is AMAZING!

    • This is incredible! <3

    • WHAAAAAAAAAAT EVEN.

      • LydiaB

        It seems so bold to try but I was in a strangely fortunate situation where my dress was so grass and red wine stained after the wedding that I had nothing to lose! It was very special wearing it again for our second anniversary!

    • suchbrightlights

      You are now on my Pinterest board for this comment because this is exactly what I want to do with my dress after the wedding. PS- mad props both on the dress (before and after) and the GORGEOUS wedding shot!

    • So wait, I’m still thinking about this—what materials are on your dress?

      • LydiaB

        I’ve just checked on the website I got the dress from and it says;

        Self: 100% poly
        Trim: 100% nylon
        Lining: 97% poly , 3% elastane

        To be honest at the time of dying I didn’t really know! I tried a machine dye and it did nothing, so then bought a dye specifically for nylon/polyester (Jacquard iDye Poly) and followed the instructions on that. I really had nothing to lose as the dress was mostly ruined with stains, but it all worked!

    • Amanda

      This is exactly the dye I was going to recommend. Works great on polyester. I would buy a bit more white veiling at Joanne’s or something so that you can test out the color before you do your actual veil. Leaving it in longer will make it darker, so a tan color with a shortish time soaking might make it a color you like.

      I’d do the stovetop method with a big stainless steel pot you won’t use for food again afterwards (I’m a tie dying geek so I have one dedicated to tie dye, it’s a good time to buy one at the thrift store). Bigger is better because then you can stir it around with the veil in it and it won’t be as likely to get patches of dark or light. Make sure to have something like a hat stand/foam head over an old towel that you can dry it on afterwards.

      This is a dying experiment, so I’d be cautious with your expectations. If you are at all crafty or know someone who is, making a veil isn’t that hard. I wanted something very specific (sparkley blue birdcage!) so I made my own. It really only takes trimming the veil, sewing it onto some hair combs by hand, and gluing or hand sewing on a little decoration, like silk flowers.

  • Fushigidane

    I don’t have any advice on the dying front, but you might want to try on the veil with your dress first. The veil I ordered ended up being white but we actually liked the way it looked with my ivory/cream dress since you could see the lace against the dress and the netting was fine enough, you didn’t really notice a color difference. If you end up liking it, you can save yourself some trouble.