Hand-dyed Playsilks

Playsilks are just what they sound like. Big pieces of silk for play. They can be capes. Fort-building materials. Tents. Canopies. Costumes. Landmarks. Anything you can dream up for them, they can pretty much fulfill. “A staple of imaginary play,” says a website that sells them. They’re a staple of Waldorf learning and I’ve had them on our “want” list for Emmett for a long time but haven’t purchased them because they run a steep $15-17 per silk. A full set of silks (12) would cost you a pretty penny. So, when I stumbled up on this lovely tutorial on Pinterest I was pretty excited. Not only were the silks a fraction of the cost, but I’d been wanting to try hand-dying lately so it seemed like a perfect project.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 6 8mm SilksΒ (30″ x 30)”- I only bought six since I wasn’t sure how they’d go over and I’ll wait and see how much they get used before I make more.
  • Food Coloring- Assorted and neon are what I used.
  • 1 jug Distilled White Vinegar
  • Stainless pot + non-wood spoon

Here’s what you do:

  • Just like the tutorial said, I washed the silks with a little dish soap by hand and rinsed them out super well.
  • Next, I soaked the silks in hot water and vinegar for about an hour. Rinsed them with cold water and squeezed all the liquid out that I could.
  • Then I filled a large stainless stockpot (7.5 qts) halfway with water, added two cups vinegar and some combination of food coloring for each silk. Here are the combos I used:
    • Red: 50 red, 10 yellow, 3 blue
    • Yellow: 30 yellow, 1 red
    • Green: 25 green, 25 blue
    • Blue: 18 neon blue, 9 neon purple, 2 neon green
    • Purple:Β 18 neon purple, 6 neon blue
    • Pink: 14 neon pink, 2 neon blue
  • You leave each silk in their respective color mixes until it looks like the silk has soaked up most of the color in the pot. Then rinse each silk in cold water until the water is mostly clear and hang the silk to dry. I recommend putting a towel you aren’t super attached to underneath the silks as they dry, a few of mine dropped a little color on the floor.
  • Repeat the last two steps with each color mix until you have dyed all your silks! Wait for them to dry and then live it up!

As the tutorial mentions, the dye tends to soak in to each silk a little differently and you end up with some color variation. I think it adds to the beauty, but keep in mind your silks most likely won’t be perfect. If you are looking for a little more perfection though, you can iron the silks to make them look even nicer. I’m not an iron type of girl so I just left mine all crinkly.

I dyed most of the silks Sunday afternoon and then finished this morning, so while I finished up the last two I gave them to Emmett to see what he’d think. I’m not exaggerating when I say he played with them all morning. We wore them as capes, even Cash! We used them as fields for his tractors, we pretended we were ghosts and we ran laps around the house twirling them through the air. He’s been really into whipping towels around lately which doesn’t feel very good if you happen to get caught in the crossfire, so the lightweight silks are a welcome outlet for his desire to throw. He’s loving them! And I’m so pumped to give him the final two after he wakes up from his nap.

This was one of my favorite projects I’ve done for Emmett yet, and I can’t wait to see how much he plays with them. They make even make perfect Christmas gifts for all his little buddies. Then I’ll have a good excuse to make more! Ha! Give this one a try and let me know what you think.

Happy dye-ing!


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