Play Silks

10 08 2008

I was able to get one birthday gift made for Seth. I dyed a pile of various size silk scarves with kool-aid. This was a really fun inexpensive project and I plan on doing it again. I bought a pile of cheap scarves in various sizes, none over three bucks and found kool-aid on sale for ten cents a pack. Bargain! I got so carried away that I dyed the scarves I had intended for felting on to. But that’s ok, since I need to buy more scarves anyway. This is a fabulous project to do with or for a child. I’ve seen this so many times online that I can’t remember where I saw it first but I basically followed this how-to, while incorporating from what a couple others had done. And I’m happy to report I even found the elusive blue color! Here’s what worked best for me:

1. Soak 2 scarves in a bowl of hot water and a bit of vinegar, making sure the water completely covers the scarves. Note – I like the 30″ square scarves the best but think a variety can be fun. I dyed a couple sizes of squares and a couple sizes of rectangles.

2. Mix up 2 bowls of dye, one for each scarf. Add 3 packets of kool-aid to 2 cups of water and a 1/2 a cup of vinegar (the cheap stuff of course) in a microwaveable bowl. I recommend a taller, skinnier bowl rather than a wider bowl.

3. Add scarves. Stir to coat. Your goal here is to have as much of the scarves under the liquid as possible. Anything sticking out will be lighter than the rest. This is not necessarily bad as it gives the scarves a bit of a mottled look, which I like.

4. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave each for 3 minutes 3 times. Alternate the bowls so that each gets to rest for the 3 minutes the other is in the microwave. After each rest but before placing back in the microwave carefully peel back the plastic wrap, avoiding the steam that may escape, and give the scarves a stir. Make sure any parts of the scarf that were left on top the first go round are now on the bottom. I see no reason why this couldn’t be done on the stove top. For that matter, I imagine you may be able to get a more even coloring this way.

Now this is the cool part. By the time you’re done microwaving there will be no color left in the bowl! I’m serious. This was pretty wild and the part I think kids would get a kick out of. The water is left completely colorless or a cloudy white in the case of any labeled with lemonade in the flavor. The only exception to this is if you use a pretty small scarf. One I did was more like a hanky and didn’t soak up all the color. I could have added one or two more little scarves to that batch.

5. After the last 3 minute rest period carefully peel the plastic wrap off and discard. The scarves cool quickly but the water does not. So either walk away from the bowl for an hour or even over night to let the water cool or take outside a pluck the scarf out of the water, quickly throwing it into the grass. The water is really, really hot so just grab a little of the scarf that is sticking up out of the water. I don’t want to hear of any burns here. I didn’t wring them out, simply plopped them on the ground until they cooled for a minute and then laid out flat to dry. I also did not wear gloves because I like to live life dangerously. My thumbs did get a little purple but that went away after a day or two. No biggy.

6. Once dry, hand wash separately as colors may bleed a bit the first time round, though most do not. Dry on low in the dryer and then iron smooth. Enjoy.

Flavors from top to bottom: orange, pink lemonade, blue ice lemonade, lime, lemonade, grape, cherry, non-dyed white – can’t forget white.

So far Eleanor has taken to the silks much more than Seth but they’ve both played with them. What have they done with them?

  • Sensory experience – touching and running with them flying behind
  • Super hero cape
  • Simply wearing something pretty. Eleanor loves to wrap them around her neck and shoulders.
  • Peek-a-boo
  • Dressing up as a ghost
  • I’m pretty sure Eleanor thinks she’s invisible when she wears one over her head. She can still somewhat see through them since they’re so thin and she just giggles with delight as she walks by a person.
  • Dance accessories

What else can I imagine they will be used for?

  • Fort building
  • Table cloth for a tea party
  • Dressing up dolls and stuffed animals
  • Magic tricks
  • Gift wrap – Seth loves to make things for me and wrap them up himself
  • Puppet show paraphernalia
  • I could go on, but I think you get the picture

I now think play silks are a must for 1st and 2nd birthday presents, possibly 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th depending on the child. Next time I do this I’ll have Seth help me. I’ll also buy a smallish extra scarf to sew into a little drawstring bag for storing the play silks. I always think of those things after the fact.