Monday, January 5, 2015

Aging Fabrics

There have been some questions on how I age my fabric with coffee, so I would love to share my process with you.  It's pretty easy! 
Preheat the oven to 250*.  Boil about 8-12 cups of water in a large soup pot on the stovetop.  While that is getting hot, heat about1 cup of water in the microwave and add 2-3 spoonfulls of instant caffeinated coffee.  Mix well until the crystals are dissolved.  This solution will be milky brown colored. 
After the crystals are dissolved, pour the thick coffee into the boiling water and stir.  Then add your fabric and cook it on low to medium heat for 15-20 minutes.  Use tongs to rearrange or stir occasionally.  The largest cut of fabric I use is about 1/2 yard.  You can "cook" several pieces at a time, but keep the cuts small so they will fit in the cookie sheet for baking.
Next set aside a cooking sheet that has about 3/4" raised sides.  I believe the official term is a rolled cake pan?  I am not much of a cook, so I am not sure exactly!  Anyway, use tongs to remove your fabric from the hot coffee and hold it in the air over the pan to drain most of the liquid out.  Then use a strainer in the sink.  Do not squeeze out the coffee.  Reorganize the fabric a few times to let more coffee drain out.  When most of the dripping has stopped, put the fabric into the cookie sheet pan.  Let the fabric cool until you can touch it without getting burned.  Drain any water that has pooled.  Try to lay it out sort of flat.  Then begin to wrinkle up the fabric creating dips and peaks.  I try not to make the wrinkles all even.  Instead I try to wrinkle it all mixed up so the aged marks will not have any organization to them. 
When you have the wrinkles like you want them, put the pan into the oven and bake until the fabric is mostly dry.  I must INSIST that you stay in the kitchen while it is cooking for safety!  Please check it every 15 minutes to make sure it s not burning a hole into the peaks of the fabric.  Set your timer!  As the fabric begins to get drier, check more often.  Once the spots get to a look you like and the fabric is still damp in the valleys, take it out and lay it flat on a towel or hang it over a drying rack until dry.  After the fabric is completely dry, iron it flat with firm pressure to get most of the wrinkles out.  (some may be baked in!)
That's about all there is to it ladies!!  It's pretty easy to age your fabric for the prim look!  Here's a few more tips below...
You will smell the coffee in the dried fabric.  If the smell bothers you, you can rinse the fabric with water.  Some of the coffee stain will wash away, so rinse quickly!  If you use soap, most of the stain will wash away.  The picture below shows how much coffee stain washed out with soapy water.  The staining is much softer and barely there, which might be perfect for some projects!
When I first did this aging, I thought the aged marks were created from the dips or valleys of the fabric where it sits on the pan.  After watching it bake in the oven, I realized the aged marks come from the peaks created when wrinkling and they are from the burning of the fabric!  As you arrange the wrinkles, keep this in mind.  Peaks that are shorter and spaced closer together will have aged marks that are closer together.  A large area of fabric that is flat on the cookie sheet will be an area without much coloring. 

The picture above shows the right side of the fabric that was facing up as it cooked.  You can see the streaky look of the dark tones going from very dark at the top of the wrinkle and fading as it gets further from the peak of the wrinkle.

The picture above shows the other side of the fabric which was facing down toward the cookie sheet.  The aged marks are not blended out from the peaks as much on this side.  It's just as pretty...just a different look!  Most often, I use the side that has more color...the side that was facing up while baking.
In this particular fabric, the darkest spots are burned stiff!  So much so that I needed to use a #10 or #11 Milliner needle to sew through it by hand.  This is a brushed flannel fabric.  I don't mind that the dark spots are so burned because I know I use these fabrics for small projects that are not necessarily heirlooms.  I'd never use an aged fabric for something with lots of hard work!  I have no idea what will happen to these burned spots over the years.  This is just for fun!
The project you see above will be called My Granny's Flowers and the pattern will be ready in a few weeks.  Check back for updates as I add wool flowers around the Grandmothers Flower Garden blocks in the center of the runner. 

I have another pattern using aged fabric.  The design above is called Aged Glory.  You can find it HERE on my website if you are interested!  It is a small wool applique wall hanging that is very simple to make...also very quick!
A few more notes for today's post...Be sure to look for a new Punchneedle and Wool Applique Mini Quilt from me in the next issue of Primitive Quilts and Projects Magazine!  You can buy these magazines at your local quilt store or subscribe from their website HERE.  I'll post more about it as soon as I am allowed to show pictures!  Yay!  So exciting!
Do you think one of your local stores would like to offer my patterns?  If so, please share my information with them and ask that they contact me.  My goal as a designer is to be able to sell my patterns to stores, but it is so difficult to find the right stores with a similar look as I try to grow my business.  If a store you recommend purchases patterns from me, I may give you a little surprise so be sure to email me if you recommend my designs to a quilt shop! 
Be sure to follow my blog from gadgets on the right sidebar to get updates as I make posts.  You can also find me on Pinterest as Traditional Primitives from Missie Carpenter.  I have also just started a Facebook Page and Instagram under the name Traditional Primitives if you'd like to follow me there! 
Thank you So much for stopping by today!
As always, Take Care,



  1. Great tutorial - I may have to try it some time!!

    Blessings and hugs!

  2. That really looks nice and i like when the stain spots like that.
    I usually do that when it is warm out and let it sit in the sun, that way it dries, and gets a nice staining, plus heat set at the same time. In the winter I use my front loader for smaller pieces.


  3. Very interesting, I am going to have at least try this technique!

  4. Thank you for generously sharing your technique.

  5. Great info Missie! I think I'll try tea first since the smell of coffee is not my favorite......