Tea Dyed Shibori T-Shirt

It’s kind of a given that tea is a bit of a thing out here on the hill. We drink a lot of it. Really. A lot. I know that for a fact, because taking a sideroad into another obsession that’s quietly been building for a while, I started saving our tea leaves to make a dye and within 3 days I had more than enough in a pot to start a small Shibori factory. That’s the other thing that has been circling in my brain for the last few months – Shibori. So perfectly beautiful. So Japanese. The two go hand in hand, huh? And I figured tea and Shibori could be a cool team too, so after too many weekends had been eaten up working on the ‘gotta do’ list, today was the day.

I’ve never done Shibori before. Actually I’m not entirely sure I’ve even tie-dyed anything. But this is not a ‘have to’ project, it’s more a lovely avoidance of that world; in the same category as horse riding along a quiet dirt road, making daisy chains and cloud watching, drinking tea and knitting. You know, the stuff that falls off the radar when responsibility walks into the room and demands your attention. There’s nothing right or wrong in how to do Shibori and I love that. You just find an old t-shirt, some sticks, pegs, stones, rubberbands – whatever you like – and you wrap them up like a kooky little gift and drop it into dye. Old tea makes new t-shirt; it’s all sounding a bit like a sustainable good time right? Just wait ‘til you getting to the unwrapping part. All of a sudden Shibori seems like the only responsible thing to do on a Sunday afternoon. Could be living in a tea stained Shibori haze for a while I think.


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Tea Dyed Shibori T-Shirt

 1 100% natural fibre (cotton, linen, hemp) old white t-shirt

6-8 teapot’s worth of used tea leaves

3-4 litres of boiling water

pegs, sticks, small pebbles, string

1 large shallow pan or similar container, to soak the t-shirt overnight in


Brew up the tea, by adding the boiling water to the used leaves you have saved up, and boil over high heat in a large saucepan until you have a lovely deep colour. To create the pattern, use whatever you might like to create a ‘resist’ and prevent the tea from colouring the t-shirt in areas. I used some old apricot tree prunings and figured if they stained the t-shirt that’d be quite cool too. Either concertina the fabric with the sticks, or you could take pinches of fabric and peg different areas. You can also use small pebbles and tie the fabric around them with rubberbands. It’s all a lovely experiment!


Once you have bound your t-shirt with the chosen ‘resist’ in place, then soak the t-shirt in the strained, hot tea overnight. It’s up to you whether you want to dip the whole t-shirt or just part of it.


The next morning, rinse the t-shirt while it is still bound and then unwrap it. Ta da! Put it in the dryer to seal the colour in. Shibori done and done.

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