Many of my patterns have characters on them such as the children on this quilt. Because good skin tones are hard to find in fabric, I often have to dye my own. In this quilt, I've used fabric dyed by either coffee or tea. You will notice that each child has a different color skin. Coffee gives a more brown beige and tea gives a warmer beige.
In this tutorial, I'm going to show the easy process of tea or coffee dying.
1. Materials: You will need fabric (unbleached muslin, cream cotton, very light peach cotton, or light tan cotton are good choices) and very hot tea or coffee. Use about 2 tea bags to each 8 oz. of water. This should be a very strong tea. You will need enough to submerge your fabric. Keep in mind that you don't really need a large amount of fabric to make a face, hands and legs. A fat quarter will do at least a couple of figures. But be aware that it is very difficult to match a tea or coffee dyed color. Dye all you need for one quilt at one time. You need a container large enough to hold the liquid and the fabric. .You need 1/2 cup plain vinegar to set the dye. (Not pictured here.)
2. Add your unfolded fabric to the liquid and be sure it is completely submerged. Swish it around a little to be sure the liquid permeates the entire piece.
3. Let the fabric sit.The longer it sits, the darker it will become (up to a certain point.) At least an hour or more is needed. (In the photo I am leaving the spatula on top of the fabric to hold it under the surface of the water.) The fabric will look darker when wet thank it will when it is dry.. Rinse well under running water.( If you find that it isn't dark enough, put it back in the tea or coffee and leave it longer.)
4. Soak the fabric again, after rinsing, in 4 cups of water and 1/2 cup vinegar. This will help set the dye.
Let it sit about 15 minutes, then rinse again.
5.Roll it up in a towel to absorb excess water and then dry it either naturally or in your dryer.
6. Press well. If the fabric is not dark enough to suit you, repeat the process. (If it is too dark, you can bleach it out.)
That's all there is to it! You might want to get some unbleached muslin and experiment a little. See how many skin tones you can make. Human skin comes in hundreds of colors.
Have fun and save all your "experiments". You never know when you might need just a little bit of flesh color.