Monday, May 27, 2013

Broadcloth, Coffee and Elbow Grease

A few weeks ago Christine Mauersberger opened an online shop, Hank and Spool and is offering luxurious silk sewing thread and a heavy wool and silk broadcloth from Beautiful Silks Australia.  I believe she has a discount coupon for the holiday weekend so if you're interested you might check it out today.

The broadcloth is 85% wool and 15% silk and has a beautiful weave structure which you can see in the following photograph.

Other than dying a few scarves I have never worked with silk but I have dyed many skeins of wool yarn and know how beautifully it takes color.  The fabric itself has a nice hand, very dense with a bit of shine due to the weave structure.  I toyed with several ideas using MX-procion dyes but decided to stay with my current interest in staining fabric with coffee, tea or ink.

I began by consulting India Flint's fabulous book on natural dye, Eco Color, but in all honesty I wanted to get the ball rolling quickly and opted to try something I had read about on the web but never tried.

I began with about a cup of very high quality coffee beans.  These beans were roasted for espresso and had a high oil content.  I have a nice bean grinder so I ground them very fine and mixed in enough  tap- water to make a slurry.

Due to the way coffee behaves, I opted to soak the fabric in a mordant made of water and alum.  I mixed 4 cups of water with 2 1/2 tsp. of alum and then pressed the broadcloth into the bowl along with 2 fat quarter of my regular cotton muslin and allowed to soak for about 45 minutes.  The fabric was then removed from the mordant solution and hung outside to drip dry.

After pinning the fabric to my print boards I spooned the coffee mixture onto the fabric and used a large glass pestle to grind the coffee into the fabric.  This process spreads the grinds and also distresses the fabric.

Once the mixture was spread out I allowed it to dry a little, removed the major part of the grinds and made marks on the surface with a plastic spreader.  I repeated this process with the muslin  and then sprinkled just a few drops of water over all three processing fabrics.  I'm thinking these droplets will create marks.

I'll post the results in a couple of days as my plan is to allow the coffee to completely dry before removing the fabric to wash.  Keep you fingers crossed.  I'm hoping for a beautiful deep brown color.


Happy Memorial Day!
Thank you for spending time
at Studio 24-7 where
waking up and smelling the coffee
has a fun new meaning.


  1. This looks yummy. I'll bet the coffee smells good on the silk.
    Can't wait to see the results.
    Thank you for sharing your trial. x C

    1. My entire studio smells like a coffee shop. I may have to go find a doughnut ;-) The fabric is beautiful and I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

  2. you've got me craving donuts and coffee too! Can't wait to see how the piece turns out. Good luck!

    1. Hi Jennifer. I had lunch with my sister today at Panera Bread Company. I never partake of their pastries but today I had to buy one. I'll share it tonight with Tom in honor of this experiment. ;-)

  3. I like how the fabric looks so far. Looking forward to seeing the results.

    1. Thanks Mia! I added more coffee to the fabric yesterday and plan to rinse this morning. Very fun.

  4. I am so looking forward to viewing your results - I have used tea on fabric but never coffee.

    1. It turned out very nice. I'll be post the results on Monday. Thanks, Ayana!