Back in the game with kool-aid playsilks

Things are settling down a bit here. I’ve managed to set aside three nights to work on V’s play silks, a project that has been on my to-do list for months.

Play silks are simply pieces of silk fabrics, usually square or rectangular, that are dyed in various colors. They are extremely versatile for imaginative play, as they can be used as capes, skirts, scarves, doll slings, doll blankets, tents and fort material, and anything else a child can think of.

For inspiration, Nova Natural sells gorgeous playsilks and tiny peekaboo play silks for babies. You can also find plant-dyed play silks on Etsy. For a cheaper handmade alternative, I turned to the all-knowing internet which has many tutorials on how to dye plain silks with kool-aid.

Here are the results of my labor. My scarves came from Dharma Trading Company. The larger scarves are 30″x30″ silk habotai scarves. I also got a package of 12″X12″ silk handkerchiefs to make the peekaboo baby silks for baby #2.

I followed the kool-aid/microwave dying method here with a few modifications to accommodate dying two sizes of scarves.

My modified microwave method:

  1. Soak scarves (large and small together) in a bowl of hot water with a splash of vinegar for about half an hour.
  2. For the dye, mix 2 cups water, 1/2 cup vinegar and 4 packets of unsweetened Kool-Aid in a large glass bowl.
  3. Add the scarves and cover with plastic wrap. I tried to swirl the scarves a little to get the color a little more even, but the end result is still a bit variegated.
  4. Microwave on high for three minutes, then let cool for three minutes. Mix the scarves a little more with the dye, being careful not to burn yourself with steam. Repeat 2 more times.
  5. After the third heating and resting, let the scarves cool, wring it out and hang to dry.
  6. After they dry, wash in cold water, hang dry again and iron.

Here were my recipes for the colors:

  • Red: 4 packets of Black Cherry
  • Orange: 4 packets of Orange
  • Yellow: 4 packets of Lemonade – this came out very pale. If I were to do it again, I might add an additional packet of Lemonade and then add pinches of Orange until I achieved a more golden yellow.
  • Light Green: 6 packets of Lemonade plus pinches of Ice Blue Raspberry until I got the desired color. The end result looks like a light lime/honeydew color.
  • Blue: 4 packets of Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade. The result is a light, slightly fluorescent blue
  • Purple: 4 packets of Grape. I only heated it twice in the microwave. This came out pretty dark, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it redder (note: adding Black Cherry does not work, it only makes it turn a brownish purple). Purple also gave me the streakiest result, so that the scarf looks a bit like tie dye.

I discovered that mixing Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade with a bit of Grape can give you a darker indigo blue dye. I was just experimenting in a bowl with teaspoons of color and didn’t actually dye a silk with it. But if I had time, I might go back and try to make a darker blue play silk.

This set of scarves will be put aside for V’s second birthday.

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One Reply to “Back in the game with kool-aid playsilks”

  1. They are gorgeous!! Made me want to try it. Haven’t even thought of Dharma Trading since I stopped getting Mothering!

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