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Tips to Make a Fabric Look Antique

Magically Wonderful Tips to Make a Fabric Look Antique

Fashion industry demands usage of different types of fabrics and textures. One of them is vintage fabrics. Here is how you can make fabrics look antique.
Anuja Marathe Kanhere
Last Updated: May 15, 2018
They say that 'Old is gold'. Antique fabrics have always been a rage in the fashion industry. But not all of us are lucky enough to find some treasured antique fabrics in our attics. There might be a lucky few who find some vintage fabrics in the market, but such fabrics are either too expensive because of their scarcity or these materials are too old and fragile to withstand being used as new materials. So what could be the best solution? Some dyeing tricks of course! Read more to get some brilliant ideas.
Ideas for Faking Fabric Antiquity
Before you start with the process for aging the fabrics, I need to caution you to use fabrics like cotton, linen and silk as much as possible. These fabrics are easy to age as they get dyed faster. One might be tempted to use synthetic fibers like polyester, but on a deeper thought you will realize that these fabrics never existed until a few decades back. Also, I recommend you to use dull shaded fabrics over bright ones to get the authentic antique look. Once you have settled on the fabric, the process gets simpler.
The Tea Bag Method
The most popular method for getting a vintage look on the fabric is by using tea bags.
  • You need to set a large pot filled with water on heat. Water should be sufficient to completely submerge the fabric.
  • Add 4 tea bags from your kitchen to the water.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of salt and bring the solution to boil. Salt is considered the best dye fastener.
  • When the water turns reddish-brown in color, put your fabric in the tea solution.
  • Boil the fabric for a good 10 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat once you are done.
For some extra aging of the fabric, hang the fabric for drying in direct solar heat. At the end of the process, you might pat yourself for creating the perfect antique look on the fabric.
The Coffee Method
Just like tea, coffee is a good dye material for making fabrics look really antique. However, coffee tends to leave behind its usual strong smell along with its stains. So, you might have to be careful with the quantity of coffee powder you use for dyeing.
  • You need to set a large pot of filled water on high heat. Water should be sufficient to completely submerge the fabric.
  • Add 2 heaped teaspoons of coffee powder to the water along with 2 tablespoons of salt.
  • Let the water boil till it turns jet black. Now turn off the heat and dip the fabric for about 10 minutes in the hot coffee solution.
  • Set the fabric for drying under the sun.
There is another method of drying this fabric. Dip the material in cold water for a minute and set it for spin drying in your washing machine.
The Walnut Shell Method
Walnuts don't just make for a healthy dietary supplement, they also help you get one of the best vintage look on fabrics.
  • You can start by getting hold of a couple of walnuts with their shells still intact.
  • Break the shells a little so that water will seep into the walnut during the boiling process.
  • Set a pot of water on high heat and put the broken walnuts into it. Allow time for the water to start boiling.
  • Now dip the entire fabric into the boiling water. Use a wooden spoon to stir.
  • Let the fabric boil for about 15 minutes and then turn off the heat.
  • Allow the fabric to float in the solution till it cools down.
Walnuts are highly effective in staining or yellowing the fabrics. Similarly, you will notice that the fabric gets a slight coarse or worn feel as it dries out.
The Bleach Method
Bleaches are effective in aging most of the materials, especially silks. They soften the fabrics to a great extent as if they were used for a long time. You may use bleaches as a prewash before you actually plan to stain and dye the fabrics.
  • Mix bleaches with cold water in a bucket.
  • Add the fabric to the bucket and let it remain for about 30 minutes.
  • Once done, let the fabric dry on a clothes line under direct sun. And your will get your vintage fabric!
Bleaches are effective only on dark-colored fabrics. If you are using any light-colored or off white fabrics, then bleaches will turn them into sparkling white, which will make them as good as new and therefore, not exactly serving our purpose.
And Some More Ideas
You can always rub a piece of unused sandpaper all over the fabric to make it look all the more vintage. Alternately, rub the fabric over some gravel in your driveway to wear the weave of the fabric.
Rub a fabric on freshly cut grass in your lawn. Leave it in the corner for drying. Now dip the fabric in cold water and set it to dry. The fabric will have discolored or yellowed considerably. Never use strong detergents when you wash these fabrics as they might get sparkling clean!
If you happen to stay in the countryside and have a river flowing close by, then you are lucky. Take along the fabric to the river banks and use the river water to make it wet. Now use the rocks along the river banks and beat the fabric on it with force for at least 10 to 15 minutes. This helps to age the fabrics considerably.
The sun is one of the best agents for making fabrics look old. If you are dealing with white or black cotton fabrics, then wash them in cold water and leave them to dry under direct solar rays. Do not remove the fabric from the clothes line for the next few days. You will notice that the white fabric starts yellowing and the black fabric starts turning gray!
For fabrics with Indian zardosi work, leave the fabrics in a bucket with hot water and a strong detergent. The zardosi work will lose its glittering new golden sheen and look like a perfect antique fabric.
It is at times considered difficult to keep our clothing looking as good as new forever. But, you will suddenly realize that making new clothes and fabrics look antique is much faster and easy. So as long as the fashion trend is on, this is one way to look cool in stained and vintage looking fabrics. And don't forget to complement them with some beautiful antique jewelry. The combination will definitely make you stand out from the rest.