Miss Gator’s Afternoon Adventure: Tea Dying Lace from White to Ivory

Okay… so I searched all over Gainesville for someone to professionally dye my beautiful white lace to ivory (so it would match my dress). Can you believe that there is no place in Gainesville where you can get this done? Unbelievable!

But, there’s a ray of hope. One seamstress I asked mentioned tea-dying my lace. I had heard of this before but was slighting skeptical as to whether I could successfully do this myself. Searching the internet, I only found a handful of ‘how-to’s’ and no one really went into detail. They just skimmed over what they did to show you their beautifully dyed ivory lace. But, I’m a girl who needs directions. I ain’t gonna mess up my nice lace…

For all the other Brides out there like me, who need some directions, here is, step-by-step, of how I got to the perfect shade of ivory for my beautiful Alencon lace for my veil:

What you will need to tea dye your laceThe beautiful Alencon lace to be tea dyed ivoryYou will need:

  • 4 Lipton Tea bags
  • a wooden spoon
  • measuring cup
  • and (of course) your lace to-be-dyed (I got mine off eBay for roughly $2/yd; can’t beat that!)
  1. I first boiled 10 cups of waterboiled water with tea bags
  2. I then let 4 Lipton Tea bags sit in the boiling water for 1-2 minutes; taking the wooden spoon and taping them lightly to make sure they were totally submerged in the water
  3. Take the tea bags out and let the mixture sit until it has completely cooled (2 hours); Very Important – you don’t want to burn your lace in the hot tea.
  4. Once the tea cooled, I cut a small test strip from my white lace and placed it in the tea just long enough to get it totally submerged (by using the wooden spoon); I then took it out and rinsed it for a second under cool waterTest strip in tea mixture
  5. I  laid the lace on a dish towel to dry and compare with my ‘control’ lace (the original white lace)1st Test Strip Comparison As you can see it is a little too dark; so I added 6 cups of water to the mixture to dilute the tea (looking back I think I should have only used 2 Lipton Tea bags)

Repeating the process a second time with the diluted mixture seemed to work out much better and is the right shade of ivory I was looking for. I think I would change the original recipe to : 10 cups water, 2 Lipton Tea bags

2 test strips with 'control' white lace
The middle shade is the shade I decided to go with. Here is a picture of it in natural light, it looks barely off-white/ivory… perfect. ↓

Dyed lace in natural lightYes… I took this picture to show my engagement ring too. I can’t help it… I like to take pictures of it!

Okay, moving on…

I then preceded to submerge the rest of my lace in the tea mixture (do I make this look easy? I was freaked out the whole time!).

All of Miss Gator's Beautiful Alencon Lace in the Tea DyeI then rinsed it and hung the lace to dry in our guest bathroom.↓

Miss Gator's newly tea dyed lace hanging to dryOh! look at the detail! This is why I fell in love with this lace and had to have it (plus the price was amazing; can’t beat $16 on eBay for 8 yards! A budget bride’s dream!)

Detail shot of Miss Gator's newly tea dyed laceNext it is off to the designer where it will be sewn on to my veil. I will have a veil update in the next few weeks!

42 Comment

  1. That looks so good, you rock! I don’t know that I would be brave enough to do it, but it looks fabulous!

  2. Katey says:

    I read your blog regularly but have never posted…I’m not even a bride and this idea seems extraordinarily scary! As a complete stranger I am incredibly proud of you for doing such an amazing job!

  3. @Stacy Marie: You can be brave girl! Just have to have your test strips! Also… some of the images of the lace appear much more tea tinted then it is in person. The natural light helped to gauge the right shade to go with.

    @Katey: Thank you! It was a bit scary.. If I messed it up I didn’t know where I would get more lace (the cheapest in town is at Joann’s for $10/yd and it is kind of sucky). But it is all in using test strips to gauge the color. It was either do this, or have white lace with an ivory dress. Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. :-)

  4. mrknight says:

    Ladies, trust me… she had to build up the confidence for weeks. I can’t say that I was any help getting her over that anxiety hump though… I kept insisting that she find more resources or find better step-by-step instructions on how to do this whole “dying lace with tea” thing.

    The fact is, there simply weren’t anymore out there. And that’s why we decided this would really be of great value to the Gator Bride readers.

    I’m really proud of Miss Gator for just going for it. The lace turned out awesome. Better than I had ever imagined it would.

  5. Hannah says:

    As a child in gymnastics we had to do these to our training bras! Gymnastics rules state that you have to wear nude color under garments or nothing. Although many girls opted for nothing, a few of us got crafty and learned how to tea-dye! If us 12 year-olds could figure it out (with a little bit of mom’s supervision) anyone can :)

  6. […] of Jacquelyn Brooks Design. I was there to see my veil she has been making, and to drop of the alencon lace I had tea dyed a few weeks […]

  7. Ima GatorVetMom says:

    Hello Miss Gator,

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I have quite a bit of white lace I was saving for a blessing gown for a future granddaughter. My daughter is having a daughter in December and wants ivory lace. Hence my search for ivory (ecru)lace. I remembered reading I could dye white lace with tea and was ecstatic to find your blog. I will save about $200.00 dying my white lace. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    Wife and mother of two UF graduates, and two current UF students.

  8. Ashley says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. I, like you, have searched the internet for step by step directions and you are the only person I’ve found thus far to show it. Thank you again and I will be trying this today and I cannot wait to see how it turns out. I also got my lace on EBAY!!!

  9. Kate says:

    Wow, that worked brilliantly! Thank you! I was really nervous, I only used one tea bag (PG Tips, much stronger than Liptons) and a load of water, so it took an hour before my veil had the colour I wanted, but it’s perfect! Really subtle, but now it really complements my dress, whereas before it just made it look dirty.
    Fab! Here’s to Ebay veils (99p!) and tea bags!

  10. Nicki says:

    I’m dying some lace for my senior fashion show right now. Thank you for the tips!

  11. @Nicki @Kate @Ashley @ImaGatorVetMom: I’m so happy I could help you all!

  12. […] Old: Still searching, though the vintage lace I bought on eBay to make my veil would suffice. But, still looking. Something New: My dress! (and […]

  13. Lynsey says:

    Thank you so much, I’ve searched everywhere for ivory dye and it just doesn’t exist anymore, I’ve got some white lace gloves that need dyed ivory. Heres hoping all goes well!
    I’ll keep you posted!

  14. Jaclyn says:

    I love your blog! I am also a Gator! My fiance is a Seminole (everyone has a bad quality)! Anyhow, I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and I love the fact that you are a DIYer! I also have to use tea to dye my veil! You have been so helpful during the entire wedding process! Everytime I Google something your blog always comes up! Best of luck!

  15. mellow says:

    You know, there’s almost no tutorials for tea-dying lace ivory, not brown or some other colour? D:
    Anyways, this was extremely helpful, and I have some lovely ivory lace drying in the next room :]

  16. Kristyn Gavrilis says:

    Thanks so much–I need to darken vail just a shade or two to match my dress! This is a great tutorial-love the details and photos.

  17. Malinda says:

    Thank you so much for this posting!!! I tea-dyed my veil to a light ivory/pearl to match my dress using your guidelines! Very nerve-wrcking but worked great!

  18. JEANETTE says:


  19. JEANETTE says:

    Hi Again….I just used your GREAT way of dying a veil….I used 7 tea bags and 10 cups of water….my veil was ivory and I needed dark ivory/beige I put the veil in the tea for 5 mins..I did not rinse it out …I thought shaking out the access would be better …..and it was!!! I now have the perfect color.my veil is 100% nylon I will now add my crystals :)
    thank you!!!! thank you!!!!

  20. Mrs Gator says:

    @Jeanette: I’m so happy to worked well for you!!!

  21. Christine says:

    I have my mother’s veil that I am wanting to tea-dye. Do you think the tulle will take the color just the same??

  22. Melody says:

    Ok so we are two weeks out, and my future husband’s linen shirt is here, but they didn’t have ivory. Against my dress is it looks awfully clean think I should go for it? Also has lots of embroidery thinking I will just bite the bullet here . Any suggestions?

  23. Mrs Gator says:

    @Melody: If you want to, you can try it! I know it will work great, just be very careful in not making it too dark. Also, keeping it white will most likely look fine too. Look online to see Groom’s in white shirts next to Bride’s with ivory dresses. See what you think!

    @Christine: Try a small piece of tulle and see if it will. I think it should, in theory, but there is no way of really know till you try!

  24. melissa says:

    Thank you so much for posting this on your wedding blog! I found the perfect veil but it is white and my dress is not! So I am looking forward to dying it to be the right color! thank you so much for your bravery!

  25. Karen Wood says:

    Hi there – just wanted to say THANKS heaps for your instructions! I got some white lace with gold trim to make some lace covered votive candle holders and I really wanted it ivory so have just dyed my lace and it looks FANTASTIC! :)

  26. sandy says:

    OMG::::::Thank you Thank you Thank you… i just got my lace today to make my viel.. it was WAY whiter than my lace on my dress… Thank you for the wonderful advice.. I cant wait to try it.. keep your fingers crossed for me…LOL

  27. Denise says:

    I have a white (suppose to be white)lace dress with a blue tint. I guess you would call it raw cotton? How do I make it white. I have tried white dye, does not work.

  28. Jen says:

    THANK YOU! I just bought the perfect mantilla veil offline, and in my excitement, didn’t realize it was white…my dress is ivory. I so appreciate your step-by-step directions because I will probably have to do this once my veil arrives!

  29. Megan says:

    I am super scared t try this. I have some white gloves that I need just slightly ivory, but I am afriad that it will come out uneven as there is a lot of lace, ribbon and trim on them. I guess I could try with some other fabric and see how it goes…

  30. Melissa says:

    I’m ever so grateful I found this post. I purchased white alencon lace trim for my wedding dress, and in the store the small swatch of lace from my dress didn’t look that bad. So I figured it would blend. Once I got home with $150 worth of lace, I realized it actually stood out noticeably. I couldn’t return the lace, and I was definitely nervous to dunk such nice lace into a tea bath. You are the only person on the internet (that I found) that actually dyed alencon lace in tea, and it turned out looking great. I was still nervous, but I went with your suggestion of 2 tea bags to 10 cups of water, and I kept my lace in there a little longer, swishing it around for 20 seconds or so. It came perfect! I read elsewhere that it’s a good idea to dunk the lace in water afterwards to rinse out the tea because something in the tea can break down the lace over time.

  31. Gayle says:

    Help!! I have to tea dye my daughter wedding veil, fron white to diamond whie. Does anyone one know how many on how many tea bags to use. And how long to dip.

  32. Lesley says:

    I used good old Yorkshire tea to dye old cotton lace curtains from super white to ivory. I only used 1 teabag to the 10 cups of water & literally dipped them in & out.Even then it’s quite a ‘srong’ ivory, but I’m happy with the colour. Best of luck to you girls trying to do a ‘wedding match’: just ‘go for it’! Thanks for the ‘inspiration’.

  33. Maayan says:

    Quick question – if you dye a veil using tea bags, is it color fast? If it gets wet will the tea stain my dress?

  34. Laura says:

    What a brilliant idea! I’m making my own headpiece with white lace and need it to be ivory. Definitely trying this :)

  35. Alyssa says:

    Thank you! I needed to know how to do it step-by-step! Just what I was looking for

  36. Kelly says:

    A couple notes: green tea is what I use, it darkens very gradually. The orange pekoe cut (which is the standard cheap tea) darkens dramatically. I’ve done this a few times, and usually leave it in the bath for 20 seconds at a time, then check the color. Be careful because the color will be lighter once the lace dries. I add a tbsp of vinegar to help set the color. And then make sure I rinse it out. Ironing the lace after it is dry also heat sets the color, just keep the iron on a low setting and be careful.

  37. neicy says:

    This totally works! And the longer you leave it in there, the deeper it will be. So easy…thanx!

  38. i wonder if i could do this to my white wedding gown?

  39. Wanda Deveau-Rogers says:

    I have a gorgeous veil that I wore for my wedding 4years ago and now my stepdaughter is getting married this September and would like to wear it. Her dress is ivory and my veil is white. Thanks so much for posting the step-by-step tea dying process. I was wondering about tea dying and had no idea how! Just a question……my veil is already attached to a comb…..what are your thoughts on dying it with the comb on it? Just thought I’d get another opinion! :-)
    Thanks again!

  40. Beau Butler says:

    kimberly and Kyle,
    You are the cutest, nicest lookin young couple anywhere…So happy! Hope all is well. back to the task at hand. The dilemma: Mom and Dad’s 50th Wedding Anniversary coming up on August 4th, 2012. My son wanted to display my Mom’s gown, Mother of the Bride dress and Mother of the Groom’s dress. Grandmother’s dresses were properly stored, guess the elders knew how to do it properly! lol Just like new 50 years later! Mom’s gown not so good, It was sealed tightly in a clear plastic bag,thought all would be good. After looking at the bag, which had clouded over the years, I noticed clumps of off dust balls in the bottom of the bag where it was tied shut. Hmm, what could that be? I wasted no time getting that bag open because it looked as if mice had been building a nest in the bottom of the cozy hanging condo. Well, to my relief there were no mice! Although at this point I could use the “Mice Dress Builders,” from Disney’s Cinderella! It seems that plastic has an elemental composition that interacts with the elements in 50 year old French Chantilly Lace and tulle. The lace is caused to yellow but not “melt” away. The tulle on the other hand, is gassed into literal dust balls (The ones in the bottom of the bag mentioned earlier). Well after inspecting the dress knowing there were 16 yards of fine gathered tulle that I had to replace I knew I had my work cut out for me. All was fine until the next morning when I looked to the dining room, to see a front panel of the Chantilly Lace laying on the floor in front of the gown! COMPLETE HORROR! It seems through a conversation with my Mom, somebody had spilled clear gin down the left front of her gown at the reception. They cleaned the spill with club soda and water as the Bridal Shoppe had instructed when she bought the gown. Skip ahead 50 year, lace on the dining room floor in front of an otherwise great lookin 50 year old gown. Seems now we have had an other elemental occurrance. Club soda, causes lace to virtually evaporate when mixed with gin and exposed to direct sunlight 50 years later! Ok, so I have to replace a whole left front panel of the Lace Ballroom overlay, ho hard can that be? Well seems after searching for the Chantilly, France Lace factory and finally finding it, the factory had burnt to the ground and was never rebuilt! OMG, now what? Ebay to the rescue! I searched Ebay for only 15 minutes looking through 15 pages of Chantilly Lace, and right there at the bottom of page 16 was the exact French made lace! The seller wanted $90.00 or best offer for a 68″ wide X 3′ panel, the only piece available, by the way. I offered $50 and won the lace! It came today, and was like new to the point it was still in its pure white condition. Mom’s dress has whitened again by the ultra violet rays of natural sunlight. It will never get too pur white again, but is close. sort of a “Candlelight Glow,” which is perfect for the 50th Anniversary reappearance. Well, now comes the time for me to thank you for helping make my day, and I’m sure my Mom’s. I used your 10 cup 2 bag tea dye. I boiled the water put, the tea bags in for 2 minutes and removed, I didn’t let bthe water cool to room temperature however. My Greatgrandmother taught me how to tie-dye
    t-shirts back in the day. she always said, “If you want the tint to be permanant, use steaming water, not boiling and never cold. Cold water to rinse and set the dye only.” So I gotta go with, “Ma.” she grew up in Liverpool, England working as a dyer in a linen weaving factory until 1906 when she came to America, she knew her stuff. Back to my lace, It has been hanging on the line drying in the breeze and came out, the same, “Candlelight,” as the rest of the gown.
    Sorry about the ramble, just wanted you to know why this was so important. Thank you, thank you, thank you girl! Oh pics upon request!

  41. Michelle says:

    Thank you … I searched for a way to dye my whole wedding dress ivory and your blog came up, My dress was an ex display from e-bay it was exactley the style i wanted but it was white ! But for £60 i couldnt complain ! I am a budgeting bride to be so your blog gave me the idea that i could have my dress in Ivory after all. Obviously i had to adapt the recipe tho :0)
    I didnt get the mixture quite right and the dress dried a pinky beige colour ! but having talked it over with my H2B first we decided if anything went wrong the tea dye would probably wash out.. luckily my dress placed in a quilt cover fit in the washing machine and along with a squirt of bleach and some wash powder and conditioner i put it on a delicate wash and crossed my fingers, The result is ……. an Ivory dress which also smells good too :0)
    I wouldn’t recommend my way of doing it tho unless you have nerves of steel or a healthy bank balance. x Michelle x

  42. […] much admiring of lace and pretty dresses and linens and things that have been dyed this way on Pinterest.  I tried it with my shawl from my last post.  Here’s what […]

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