When school’s out for summer, the parents of primary and pre-school children are always on the lookout for fun but educational activities to keep them busy. So, we’ve decided to share some tips with you for an activity that the youngest members of your family will love: dyeing a t-shirt with coffee.
The high educational value of dyeing a t-shirt with natural products
Natural dyes are ideal for using with children: they guarantee maximum safety, considering that they are free from chemical agents that could irritate the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes.
Dyeing fabrics using natural substances – which can easily be found in your store cupboard at home – is a fun activity often proposed in nursery schools, and in educational workshops held for primary and middle school pupils.
It is a very interesting educational activity, based mainly on elementary notions of chemistry and physics. But that’s not all: dyeing fabrics with natural products such as coffee is also an opportunity to raise children’s awareness on ecological matters from a very young age, by teaching them the importance of favouring products and fabrics treated with natural methods, to protect our own health and that of the Planet.
That said, let’s take a closer look at how to teach your children to dye a t-shirt with coffee!
Dyeing a t-shirt with coffee: using cold water in a basin
What you need
– A white or very light-coloured t-shirt, washed and ironed.
– A medium to large basin.
– Two cups of coffee grounds.
– Two small coffee cups of espresso ristretto.
– A small cup of salt.
What to do
The procedure itself is really very simple. It’s up to you to take your time and make the most of the activity as a starting point for conversing with your children and teaching them about the issues mentioned above.
If you want, you can use the large quantity of coffee we recommend to show and explain to your children how to obtain a light, almost pastel shade of dye, using the basic method below. Then, another time, you might want to repeat the process using much more coffee, illustrating how and why this makes for a more saturated, darker colour.
The quantity of coffee and the times are obviously the two variable elements that determine the end result: the more coffee you use, and the longer you leave the fabric in contact with it, the darker the colour will be.
- Fill the basin with cold water. You don’t need a large amount: just enough to cover the garment you want to dye.
- Pour in the small cup of salt and mix into the water until it has completely dissolved.
- Place the t-shirt in the basin.
- Pour in your preferred quantity of coffee grounds and only some of the espresso coffee.
- The children can have fun rubbing the coffee powder onto the fabric.
- Leave the t-shirt to soak for half an hour.
- Then, remove from the water, lay out in a sink or on a stainproof surface and let your children’s imagination run riot as they stain the t-shirt with the remaining espresso coffee.
- Using a brush, you can also try letting them draw whatever they want.
- When the design phase is over, leave the t-shirt to dry. When still slightly damp, place on an ironing board and cover with a thin piece of cotton fabric. Iron the t-shirt to fix the natural coffee dye onto the garment.
You can use the same method to dye other garments too, as long as they are made of cotton and light-coloured. You can also dye paper objects and cooking utensils. For example, find out how to dye paper straws using coffee.