Hand Dyed Play Silks

posted on April 3, 2013 by  |  posted under Boys, Crafting, Fun With Kids, Girls  |  11 Comments

DIY Hand Dyed Play silks

For those of you who know what play silks are, you know what a great imaginative toy they can be for kids! For those of you who don’t know I am about to tell you all about how amazing they are.

First off I have a confession to make. When I first heard about play silks I thought.. yeah right…. like my kids would ever play with those. Especially my almost 5 year old boy! They are colorful pieces of fabric that my kids are supposed to play pretend with?

Let me tell you, I was completely wrong in my thinking. Our box of play silks is always out and always being played with. It is the first thing my son and his friends run for when they come over to play. Kids know just what to do with those brightly colored pieces of fabric! They provide hours of entertainment and are perfect for sparking a child’s imagination!

lara fabric dyeing post (8)

Play Silks sell for 10-15$ per scarf! Dying them yourself is a great way to save money on these fun toys. It will cut your cost in half! This is a great project to do with friends! You save money on the  silk scarves when you buy in bulk! You can order 1/2 oz of dye and split it easily between friends as well! It is a fun project to do together or divide between friends for a smaller work load! You can dye several scarves in one batch!

Supplies you will need:

Habotai 8mm Silk Scarves – Machine Hemmed or Hand Rolled and Hemmed // the machine hemmed are a bit sturdier, and both type of scarves cost the same amount. I ordered the 35″ x 35″ scarves and they are the perfect size!

Jacquard Acid Dyes // I ordered the 1/2 oz containers for each color of dye and it was more than enough to do 6-8 scarves in any given color.

White Vinegar, as a fixative for the dye

A pot big enough for the fabric to swim freely in


I prefer to use the stove top immersion method for this dye. It is fast and easy to do multiple batches at the same time if you have a few pots available.

Step 1.  Fill a stainless steel or enamel pot with just enough hot water for the fabric to move in freely.

Step 2.  Add the dye powder to the pot and stir. For one play silk I used 1/8 tsp of dye, for 3 you would add 1/4-1/2 tsp. If you are using a dark rich color you can use more dye to really saturate the silk. For more pastel and light/bright colors you can use the normal amount of dye.

lara fabric dyeing post (10)

Dissolve the dye completely in the water. Stir or whisk until there are no big clumps of dye floating.

lara fabric dyeing post (11)

Step 3.   Wet the play silk in the sink and wring out excess water. Unfold the silk and add it to the dyepot.

lara fabric dyeing post (12)

lara fabric dyeing post (14)

Step 4.  Place the pot on the stove top and raise the temperature of the water to 185 to 200 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer this temperature is just below boiling. Stir the fabric frequently while the temperature is raising.

lara fabric dyeing post (15)

When the water begins to steam, and bubble on the bottom of the pan, it is the right temperature. Turn the heat down enough to maintain the water temperature just below boiling. Scoop the fabric to one side of the pot

lara fabric dyeing post (16)

Step 5.  Add ¼ cup of vinegar per pound of fabric. For 1 play silk I use about 1/8 of a cup of vinegar, when doing 3 play silks I use 1/4 cup. Try not to pour the vinegar directly onto the fabric.

lara fabric dyeing post (17)

Maintain the temperature, just below boiling, and stir the fabric frequently for 30 minutes. You will see the fabric absorb most of the dye from the water.

lara fabric dyeing post (1)

When the 30 minutes is up, dump the water and silk into a clean sink.

lara fabric dyeing post (2)

Rinse the fabric with cool water, until it runs clear. Toss it in the washing machine with a very small amount of mild detergent on a cold cycle. Air dry or low heat dry in the dryer. Then they are ready for play!

If you are doing multiple colors of silk at the same time, I would recommend washing warm colors together and cool colors together, or washing each color separately.

lara fabric dyeing post (3)

We started with 10 great basic colors for our set. There were so many color options that it was hard to choose!  The colors in the picture below are listed from left to right:

White (not dyed) // Jet Black // Sky Blue // Brilliant Kelly Green // Burnt Orange // Navy Blue // Russet Red // Yellow Sun // Purple// Hot Fuchsia

lara fabric dyeing post (4)

My boy, who has a deep love for all things super powered and ninja turtle-esque, loves to transform into a super ninja hero every waking moment. He has trained his little sissy well and she loves to be his little ninja princess sidekick.

lara fabric dyeing post (5)

lara fabric dyeing post (6)

Look at this and tell me that play silks are not the most awesome thing a little boy could play with 😉

lara fabric dyeing post (7)

My personal favorite play silk dress up has to the “goggle guy” super hero!

lara fabric dyeing post (9)

Some fun ideas for ways to play with play silks: fairy skirts, veils, belts for a pirate or knight, dog leashes, baby blankets, ninja head dress, princess dress, dancing scarves, blindfolds and THE best super hero capes!

One fun thing we do with these in the back yard: place a small ball in the center of the scarf, pull the silk over the ball, tie a rubber band around the silk and throw it for a colorful commit across the yard!

There are so many possibilities!

What are some fun ideas you have for play silks?

DIY Hand Dyed Play silks


    1. April 3rd, 2013 at 7:10 am
      Heather Lynne says:
      Way too hilarious- I'm in love with the pictures of the kids playing! :)
    2. April 3rd, 2013 at 7:33 am
      Britney Mills says:
      This is so awesome! Your kids are adorable too. I have never even thought about silks and stuff for dress up. Consider this pinned :)
    3. April 3rd, 2013 at 10:54 am
      Shelley says:
      These pictures are fabulous! I want to run out to by silks!! Such and adorable idea. THanks for sharing.
    4. April 3rd, 2013 at 12:08 pm
      Cristi Dame says:
      When I was little I used to grab my mom's silk slips and wear them over my legs and one for my hair like I was a mermaid. I love having them in the toy box!! I am adding these to our playroom!! Thanks for sharing!
    5. April 4th, 2013 at 9:36 pm
      Alison says:
      Oh my gosh! This is awesome. Your little guy makes me laugh:)
    6. April 8th, 2013 at 10:34 am
      Nicolette says:
      The pictures say it all! These kiddos had so much fun! I will definitely have to try this, thanks.
    7. April 8th, 2013 at 11:25 am
      Ashley says:
      Such a cool idea. My girls love dressing up. I'm totally adding this to their dress up bin. Thank u.
    8. February 4th, 2014 at 7:21 am
      Lacy says:
      What is the difference between dharma acid dyes (what their site suggests) and jacquard acid dyes (what you used)? I want to dye some play silks but I'm not sure which to buy. Thanks!
    9. February 16th, 2015 at 4:45 am
      Lauren says:
      These are the most beautiful playsilks I've ever seen, thank you so much for sharing. Would you mind sharing which colours you used? Thank you! Lauren
    100k Fan Giveaway #40 Royal Spice
    100k Fan Giveaway #41 – noVae Clothing
    • Popular Round Ups