Aging materials – Technique

Aug 17, 2021 | Theatrical Costumes

Sometimes costumes need a vintage appearance, requiring aging the materials. Using black tea, you can easily tint white fabric and lace costuming materials to give them a vintage appearance.  To do this, make a saucepan of strong black tea, and soak the materials in the tea while it is still hot. Just throw the materials into the tea, making sure that all surfaces of the materials are under the tea. 

Let the appliques soak for 5 minutes, then rinse one piece (or one corner of a larger piece) in clear water to see if the color is right yet (Usually, you’re trying for off-white, but not quite beige.) If the rinsed materials aren’t dark enough, return them to the pan of tea and stir. Wait another 5 minutes and test again. Aging the materials to your desired hue make take several attempts.

Once the rinsed materials are dark enough, remove all of them from the tea and rinse them in cold water. Don’t worry about uneven coloring – this just adds to the vintage effect. Especially for lace and appliques, avoid wringing the materials. Blot them between layers of dry paper towels, and lay flat to dry. 

Cover photo by monica dahiya on Unsplash