(Crafts) Dying Play Silks with Kool-Aid

I must have drooled over the idea of play silks for several years. I love the concept and the endless creative play possibilities that they offer. But the standard size silks (35″x35″) sell for $10-12/each, making a small set cost a small fortune. That didn’t even account for my dream of a bigger play silk collection that included multiple sizes.

I began to toy with the idea of dying my own silks after learning that a friend successfully did it, but she used real dye and I was intimidated by that. I like to keep my creative ventures simple….and clean. And then I discovered that you can dye silks with Kool-Aid! Not only was it cheaper, but it sounded fun! I mean, how many people can say that they have hand-dyed toys with Kool-Aid!? So, I ordered my silks and made some for Kaelynn’s Christmas present. It took a little bit of work (it took time more than anything) and mine have some imperfections, but my kids love them and I’m really pleased with the finished product. Here’s how I did it:

1. Order play silks in the sizes you want. I chose a half dozen 35″x35″ silks this time, but I have plans to expand our collection someday with various sizes. I bought mine from Dharma Trading Company for $3.75/each.

2. Bring a pot of water to boiling. Add a cup of vinegar and remove from heat. Soak all the silks for about an hour before dying.

3. Put on a pair of plastic gloves. Mix 3 cups of hot water, 1/2 c vinegar, and 2-3 packets of Kool-Aid (see the note at the bottom of post for a Kool-Aid color guide). Immerse a silk in the colored water and stir slightly until fully immersed. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 3 minutes. Remove and stir again. Cover and microwave for 3 more minutes. Repeat the cycle a third time.

(Note: If you increased the amount of water and vinegar and did the dying on a stove top instead of the microwave, stirring continually, you would probably end up with more solidly colored silks. Mine are slightly blotchy, but I kind of like them that way.)

4. Remove silk from the bowl and rinse with soap and water until the water runs clear.

Keep dyed, wet silks separate until they are dry. They can bleed onto each other (voice of experience speaking).

5. Dry on low in the dryer. Iron.


Kool-Aid Flavor/Color Guide:

Red – Strawberry, Cherry, or Black Cherry (Note: I wanted more of a salmon/dark pink color, so I just used two packages of Strawberry. A combination of Cherry and Black Cherry will get you the truest red.
Orange - Orange
Yellow - Lemonade (Note: I used two packets of Lemonade plus a few drops of yellow food coloring to achieve a slightly darker yellow.)
Green – Lemon-Lime
Blue – Blue Raspberry
Purple – Grape (Note – I only used two packets.)
Pink – Pink Lemonade (not pictured)

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