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Afternoon Tea with Porcelain


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I’m not talking about your average tea party with mini sandwiches and pastries, although those tasty treats could be involved, this is an afternoon of tea staining your white fabrics. Fashion class 143 is hosting a fundraising fashion show called Porcelain that is all about tea staining. We wanted to create an attic-like space with vintage looks on the models and tea staining was the perfect way to accomplish this mission. Creating an authentic vintage appeal to your garments with imperfections can add to their charm. There are a couple of things to know before accepting this task.

First, tea staining works best on natural fabrics such as cotton and wool and they should be washed first to remove left over chemicals from the manufacturing process. The fabric should be wet during the staining process so there is no need to dry it.

Secondly, the ratio should be four cups of water to one yard of fabric, and don’t forget to use a big enough pot with room for stirring. When you bring the water to a boil, use one tea bag for each cup of water and then turn off the heat while steeping the tea bags. Depending on the type of tea, the results will differ in tints and tones. Black teas leave a creamy brown colour while some herbal teas leave more of a red tone.

Thirdly, letting the tea steep for 5 minutes and then adding your fabric will help to achieve a more even stain on the garment. By keeping the tea bags in the water it can create darker spots where it touches the fabric. By stirring the fabric the dye can penetrate between folds but remember to let it sit for at least 10 minutes. Check regularly after this to see if the desired shade is achieved and remember that it will dry a shade lighter.

Once the fabric is dyed removed it from the tea and rinse it thoroughly with warm water and mild dish soap to rid acids in the tea that can damage the fabric. Lastly soak your fabric in a solution of one tablespoon of vinegar per gallon of cold water to set the colour. Voila, your garment is a brand new vintage piece of work and it only took a big pot of tea.

The Porcelain fashion show debuts on Tuesday, March 25th 2014 at Performance Works on Granville Island, doors open at 6pm and the show begins at 7:30pm. Tickets are available at JCI (220 Cambie) for $20 or $25 at the door. All net proceeds will go to Covenant House.

Rachel Lai, JCI Fashion Student

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