Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dyeing playsilks - Part 1

Playsilks are one of the best toys you can give your child. They are completely open-ended, beautiful and natural. There are so many things they can be used for, in any age: peekaboo, costumes, bird's wings, sack, blanket for a doll, props for imaginative play such as river, lake, meadow, mountains (cover a box with a grey silk), walls and roof of a house, Kitten also loves to use blue silk as water in a play bath for dolls to wash in, etc. etc. etc.
They are not prohibitively expensive but I liked the challenge of dying my own and also to try and get some colors that are not widely available, such as brown and grey.

First I decided to try Wilton's Icing Colors because it is completely non-toxic and there is a wide variety of colors. Here is what I did:
1. Make sure that you silk's edge is finished with silk thread, cotton or polyester will not take up the dye. I get my silks from here, they have the best price as far as I am aware. Usually I use 35" square but they have a variety of sizes, even handkerchiefs.
2. I boiled a (metal) pot of water, about 0.5 gallon for each silk, but basically so that it can swim freely. Add a couple of tablespoons of vinegar and dye. The amount of dye will depend on the color, I just kept adding until the color of water seemed intense enough. The more the better as these come out pretty light. I think on yellow I spent almost an entire tub and it still came out as very very light. Mix very well.
3. Wet your silk in water and submerge into dye. Leave for 30 minutes or longer, stirring frequently.
4. Rinse under cold water until water runs clear. Cover your iron board to prevent any leftover dye to come through. Iron while still slightly dump or you won't be able to get rid of tiny creases. But do not iron while soaking wet or you will have permanent lines as the water evaporates.

I was somewhat disappointed with the colors, they are pretty but very unpredictable, light and I was not able to get some colors that I needed. From top clockwise these are the Wilton colors I used: lemon yellow, leaf green (came out more like aqua), sky blue, violet, Christmas red (or may be it is pink, they are so disappointingly similar I can't tell the difference), brown (I know, completely lilac!), pink, and orange.
I also left one white. They do have a lot of variations in dye intensity, even though I was stirring them frequently. I guess this is just the downside of doing it at home in a somewhat small pot.

Next I decided to try dying with special silk dyes. Check out Dying playsilks - Part 2!


  1. Hi, Thanks for commenting at my blog!

    I love the way the colors came out! I used egg dye and they were similarly a little unpredictable but came out beautifully. Thanks for the link to the silks. It is the cheapest I've seen.


  2. I love the colours you got, very pretty