Kids Craft : : Hand Dyed Play Silks

Jammie Craft struck again on Sunday. We were getting our day started and thinking about the upcoming birthday party. And we though, "Hmm… wrapping paper."

Since we've been crafting our birthday gifts out of totally free materials it has raised our wrapping paper budget a bit. So the kids and I decided to dye some white play silks we've had around and wrap our friend's gift in them.


Do your kids have play silks? They might be our favorite toy around. Simple and open-ended, they are  cornerstone of creative play and a Waldorf standard. We love them for costumes, doll slings, play bandages, capes, dresses, landscapes, and so much more. Truly. Their usefulness is endless. (Thinking ahead to Spring celebrations? Replace icky plastic Easter grass in your child's basket.)

You can buy beautiful dyed play silks or simply (and frugally) make your own. Sources are at the bottom of the post. 

There are dozens of different ways to dye play silks. We've dyed them with wild indigo and matter root, Easter egg dyes, and Kool Aid. This is the accessible-for-everyone Kool Aid Method. Your house will smell freakishly like fruit punch all day. Simultaneously awesome and disturbing.


Hand Dyed Play Silks Tutorial




Stainless steel and/or glass mixing bowls, one per color plus one more

Kool Aid (three packets per color)


Since I find it unlikely that you have a Kool Aid stash in your pantry, start this project at the grocery store. No, not the coop. The grocery. Choose your favorite colors or your most nostalgic scents. Blue, red, purple, orange, and green are all excellent choices and the colors take well. Purchase three packets of each color. 

Fill a large pot or bowl with a gallon of hot water. Add 2 C white vinegar. Submerge your white silks into the vinegar bath and allow to soak for 10 – 30 minutes.


Choose a large glass or stainless mixing bowl for each color. Add 1/2 C white vinegar and 5 C hot water to each bowl. Add all three packets of Kool Aid and enter childhood-memory flashback land. After your get off of your banana-seat bike and back out of your mama's kitchen, regroup. Stir.


Time to add your silks! You can add a whole silk to a single color or do some simple multicolor variations and tie-dyes. Since my first "business" was selling tie-dies at Dead Shows when I was 17 (embarrassing but true) we tied some up with string or rubber bands, but for everyday play I prefer the simplicity of single-color silks.


Allow the silks to thoroughly saturate with color, then remove from dye bath and rinse.


And rinse.

And rinse.

Keep rinsing until the water runs clear. It takes surprisingly long, but is good tactile work for kids and adults alike.


You can also rinse in a large bowl of water if that's easier for little hands.


 Then simply hang your silks to dry. (If not on your three year old then on a clothesline).


There you have it. A gorgeous plaything in under an hour. (Or at the least some sweet wrapping paper.) Let me know how your silks turn out and what your kids enjoy using them for.

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A note: If you found your way here through Whip Up, Crafty Crow, Progressive Pioneer, or other crafty wonderlands, welcome! Check back with us often – we get inspired and do magical kid crafting every week, plus I post about simplification, gentle parenting, and all manner of organic, joyful living.



Pre-Dyed Play silks are available from plenty of lovely family-owned stores like the ones found here and here.

Blank Play silks of all sizes (as well as fancy dyes) are available here. (Worth mentioning is that silks are made in China. Because they are silk. As in China silk. This is the exception to my Made in China rule. If you find any domestic silks please let me know.)