Thursday, January 17, 2013


Before Christmas, I managed to make a few small gifts for Scout.  I didn't finish the sweater I had wanted to knit her or the hat or the mittens, but I did have some fun with Kool Aid.

Finished Playsilks 02

I had never heard of playsilks until I started reading mommy blogs.  A playsilk is an open-ended toy.  It requires kids and parents to use their imagination to find new uses for the simple piece of fabric: play peekaboo, dress-up, dolly blanket, to build a fort, and on.  You can see lots of ideas here.  They are also great for sensory development.  After watching how Scout plays, I knew they'd be well-received.

You can buy playsilks in tons of colors from lots of great companies online and from etsy sellers.  Do a search and you'll find tons.  But you can also make them yourself.  Years ago, I did a huge experiment dying wool yarn with lots of different colors of Kool Aid.  I have not had a drink of Kool Aid since.  While I'm skeptical of ingesting the dyes found in Kool Aid, I knew that they would work well for this project and a little Googling confirmed this.  I bought all the stuff for this project months and months ago, and honestly it would have been a much better warm weather project done outdoors.  

To complete this project, you need to find blank playsilks.  After some online shopping, I found what I needed at Dharma Trading Company, and purchased the Habotai 8mm Scarves.  They come in a variety of sizes.  I settled on the 30" size and I also purchased a stack of Ladies Silk Handkerchiefs because they are the perfect size for Scout's small dolls.  

Blank Playsilks.  
Kool Aid,  various flavors/ colors
Microwave Safe Bowl(s)

Kool Aid

Give your fabric a nice bath in your washing machine (hot) or your sink.  Add a splash (or two) of vinegar to the bath to prep the fabric.  (This is the same way that I dyed yarn in my only attempt.)

Mixed Dye

In a microwave safe bowl mix approximately 2 cups boiling water, 1/2 cup vinegar, and 3 packs of Kool Aid.  Remove your silk from the prep bath and wring out most of the water.  Place your wet silk into the dye bowl.  A lot of the dye will be absorbed pretty quickly.  I actually used this amount of liquid and Kool Aid for one 30" and two 12" silks.  I wouldn't recommend adding any more fabric without increasing your liquid and dyes, but don't worry: if you add too much Kool Aid, the dye will rinse out in the final stage.

I couldn't find any green Kool Aid at my grocery store, so I used gel food coloring instead.  I completely over-did it, and had trouble getting all the excess dye to rinse out.  But the good news is that the dye took.  To rinse all of the excess I ran it through the washing machine separately.  I also added a bit of yellow food coloring to the Lemonade Kool Aid because I was worried the dye would be too pale.

Food Coloring
A little goes a long way.
Place plastic wrap tightly over the bowl and microwave for 3 minutes.  Remove from microwave, stir, and let rest for 3 minutes.  Warning: When you remove the plastic wrap steam will escape and can cause burns.  My fingers were singed a couple of times, so be careful. It probably goes without saying, but I'm saying it, because I burned myself.  And then repeat 2 more times re-sealing with plastic wrap before each 3 minutes in the microwave.  I had 2 bowls going at once, so I could run the second color while the first was resting.

Dye Bath 02
See how all the dye has been sucked into the fabric leaving nearly clear water?
When you are finished with the heating phase, rinse under cold water to remove any excess dye.  Just run cold water over it until the water rinses clear.  Hang to dry.  Fluff in the dryer for a few minutes.  You can also iron them if you don't like a very wrinkled appearance.

Note: When washing the first few times, wash separately as the dye may bleed.

The final results were very pretty.  Although a true red alluded me.  And surprisingly, it wasn't that messy.

Finished Playsilk Colors

I stuffed them into Scout's stocking, and she thoroughly enjoyed pulling them out one by one.  And since Christmas, they have seen regular use as dolly blankets, to play peekaboo, and for dress up.

Play Silk 01

I won't have any reservations throwing these into the washing machine by themselves, and I'm already perusing the Kool Aid selection to make some more.  It really was easy, and it could easily be completed on the stove top too.  

3 comment(s). Tell me what you think!:

Megan said...

Thanks for posting that! I've been wanting to make/get my daughter play silks for ages!

Aleta said...

I have never heard of play silks before! Being a first time mom (soon to be), I am out of the loop for many things, but I like this idea and how fun that it can be colored by Kool Aid!

jean wilson said...

in the olden days (1980) we bought cotton crinkle gauze by the yard and cut it into squares and hemmed the raw edges. ellen had a set of pastel squares. the boys needed some manly squares for building tents and forts so i bought black and army green for the boys. silk seems nice for costumes, but the cotton was very nice about clinging to things and is less slippery than, you might want a few cotton ones, too. voile works well as crinkle gauze.

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