Tuesday, September 20, 2005



Muslin or other material
Instant coffee
Tea bags
Vanilla extract
Ground Cinnamon, Cloves or other spices
Candle Oil

There are a few other products that you can use besides tea or coffee....I've heard of some folks using Rit Dye. I've known some that like to dye their fabric with "natural" elements...onionskins, berries etc...

Some folks like to do each doll individually but I find that it is easier for me to do a few yards of muslin or other material at a time!
If you are doing one dollie at a time you can either use a spray bottle and spray her down or apply the coffee stain with a sponge brush.
Many fabric manufacturers produce their fabric with an anti stain repellent on them so the first step is to wash your fabric using a detergent (Tide, All etc...) but NO FABRIC SOFTENER. (Muslin is OK to leave unwashed!) Leave your fabric wet.
Fill a large pot with water, tea bags and/or coffee...now I'm sure your probably saying HOW MUCH???.... This is where "practice" comes in!!!...This is my formula but you may prefer more or less depending on your "taste."....
For every gallon of water I use 3 family size tea bags and 1/2 cup of INSTANT coffee. For those who do not like the smell of coffee (like me!!) you can add about a 1/4 cup of vanilla extract to your concoction-it's perfectly OK to use the cheapest imitation vanilla you can find-in fact that's the kind I prefer! Or you can add a few drops of candle oil to your pot! Bring your mixture to a boil and then turn the heat down and add your fabric! Keeps an eye on it!!!...I like to let mine sit all day and then I turn off the heat completely and let it sit overnight!! The longer you let the material soak the darker it'll be!...When it's the perfect color for you take it out of the mixture and wring it out. You can either put it in the dryer, let it air dry, or take it over to your ironing board and add some more "grungy" to it by scorching it dry with a very hot dry iron! (No steam) Once your fabric is dry you're ready to trace your pattern and get to work...When I have sewn, cut out and stuffed my doll (but before I add her eyes, hair etc...) I like to spray her with some of that same coffee mixture that I've put it a spray bottle-wet her down good-place her FACE DOWN and pop her in the oven on a lined cookie sheet! (I use wax paper or aluminum foil to line the pan) at the LOWEST setting for about 20 minutes (Keep an eye on your dolly! Nothing worse than having to look a firefighter in the eye and tell him how the fire started!!!) For added interest you can also sprinkle instant coffee on her before you put her in the oven! There are lots of other ways to grubby up your creations...

I'm using a doll as an example but you can do this on any of your fabric creations-use your imagination!...
Before you add your dolly's eyes, hair etc...
You can use the coffee/tea mixture (I add just a bit of white glue or modge podge to the coffe/tea mix) & a sponge brush to apply the mix to dolly and then you can sprinkle her with cinnamon, ground cloves etc... You can also open up a tea bag (the flavored teas are GREAT for this) and rub that all over dolly & then she can air dry or you can put her in the oven. (LOWEST SETTING!! Keep an eye on her!)

Another way to "Grubby" is to use a WATER based stain...paint it on your dolly with a sponge brush and then take a paper towel and wipe it off!...This also makes dolly stiff ! If you're planning on painting dolly's shoes or stripes, use the stain after your paint dries to give it a more subdued look! If you use a stain I DO NOT recommend putting dolly in the oven!!! Let her air dry!!....I like to use fine grain sandpaper to sand her a bit to give her a more "worn" look!!
I like to use the water based stain and modge podge on other creations...At Halloween I make pumpkins from Muslin...I paint them orange, sand them and then apply the water based stain mixed with modge podge...it ages them and makes them stiff!
Another idea is to apply paste wax-use a soft cloth and rub over your project (this looks great on black dolls too)...let it dry and then buff a bit...It looks like old aged leather when you apply it over a dark coffee stain!
If things aren't coming out as dark as you'd like it may take a few times of applying the mixtures and baking before they achieve a truly "prim & grubby" look...heating things in the oven helps to darken and age your creations!!....
If you want your projects to smell yummy try this: I add about 1 oz of scented oil to 3 oz of water (For home use I just use distilled water) Put it in a spray bottle and spritz your projects!
Alot of folks also ask about the "mammy dolls" and all I do is use some watered down "burnt umber" acrylic paint and apply 2 coats with a sponge brush. I let her air dry and use some fine grain sand paper to sand her down to give her a more worn look. Then I use a water-based stain or paste wax.
*use a pot that you don't cook in! No one likes spaghetti noodles that have a coffee after taste! BLECH!
*If you use your dryer-put a damp old towel through when you're done to clean your dryer!
*I also recommend you buy a separate iron for all your craft needs-honey really hates when he irons his pants and winds up smelling like tea/coffee/cinnamon-or worse- looking like his pants have been tea dyed!! HEE HEE!! At the least make sure you cover your ironing board and clean your iron!)
*When you coffee stain projects make sure you lay them FACE DOWN...the coffee will seep to the top and give a VERY SPLOTCHY look-sometimes not the look you want for a dolly's face!!
*Coffee dye/cook your dollies BEFORE adding hair and eyes...the coffee mixture will make dollies hair stiff and ucky and the buttons and such may not take too well to a hot oven!
*I save my coffee mix in the fridge in a large jar-I usually only save it for no more than a week-but of course it's usually gone in a week too!
EXPIREMENT EXPIREMENT EXPERIMENT!!! I will sew up muslin circles...stuff them and then try out different techniques! See how things look with just coffee or tea, how it looks in the dryer, with the iron etc....


Donna said...

Great directions :) Thank you!

mamajudt said...

Thank you so much for the nice site. Still having tried the pain and then oven dry tecnique. Any hints??? Thanks. I am a newbee. Judy