Dyeing Playsilks and Making Streamer Wands


So, there is a lot of information out there on how to Kool-Aid dye, but I am going to repeat it anyway, and then tell you how I created the silk streamer wands with the results. They turned out great! It was very easy to do on my own, and I also made up a set of 20 “kits” for the kids to do as a craft project at the boys’ summer camp program (3-8yos). The teachers said the kids had a lot of fun making them, and then playing with them.

Supplies:
1) Silk scarves in either 6″x24″ or 8″x54″. I buy my silk scarf blanks at Dharma Trading. The 6×24 ones were good for the kids to do since they are very small and manageable. However, I prefer the 8×54 ones since they are nice and long, and “streamer-y”. The ones at Dharma already have rolled hems which makes things easier. You can also use this method to dye playsilks, which is a wonderful open-ended play item for young children. Most people use 8mm Habotai silk for playsilks. 35×35″ inches seems like a popular size. I think the 44×44″ ones are a bit more fun, personally, but it depends on the age of the child. 11×11″ can be nice for a small baby.

2) Kool-aid in various flavors. I used Berry Blue, Wild Cherry, Lemon-Lime, Lemonade, Strawberry, Cherry and Grape. I’ve heard that they make flavors for the Latin American market that turn out a brown color, but I’m not sure what flavors those might be. (Okay, I was very curious by what flavor ‘brown’ might be…so since Google is my friend…it’s Cola flavored! Only available in the Mexico market.)

3) White vinegar

4) 5/16″ wooden dowels. Definitely get at least 5/16″ dowels. The thinner dowels snap in half easily (I know this from experience). I bought a pack of 8 at Michael’s for less than $2.

5) “Hooks & Eyes” or screw-in eye hooks. Let’s see, the size #212 were nice and heavy duty, but I had to use pliers to get them fully screwed into the dowel. The size #216 1/2 were tiny and easy to screw in, but I’m a bit worried that they might fall out with some heavy use. I purchased these at our local hardware store.

6) Freezer weight Ziploc bags. Use a quart size for the 8×54 (or for 35×35 or larger playsilks), and a pint size for the 6×24 scarves. You can also skip these and do your dyeing right in a Pyrex dish, but that’s bit messier and will slow you down if you are doing many different colors.

7) Embroidery floss. Just one skein in a basic color like white.

8) Small Pyrex dish, measuring cup, fork to stir, water, hot pad, crochet hook, microwave, sewing machine.

Dyeing Procedure

1) Soak silk scarf in a bowl of hot water for 20 minutes.

2) Meanwhile, mix up your dye. For the small 6×24 inch scarves, you just need about 1/4 cup of liquid. For the 8×54 scarves, or for 35×35 playsilks, you’ll need about 1/2 cup of liquid. For the 6×24 inch scarves, mix in a measuring cup 1/8 cup vinegar, 1/8 cup warm water and 1 packet of Kool-Aid. (See end of tutorial for any color hints that I might have.) For the larger scarves, mix 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup warm water and 2 packets of Kool-Aid. The more Kool-Aid you use, the darker the color will be. So, if you want a really dark color, you could try 3 or 4 packets. I’ve not experimented to that extent with the color, so just have fun with it! If you are dyeing more than one silk at a time, increase the amount of liquid, but you probably don’t need to double it. You’ll just have to play around with things.

3) After the silk has soaked for 20 minutes, wring out any excess water and place silk in a Ziploc bag which you’ve set in a Pyrex dish (to catch any spills). Pour in your dye, seal the bag, and smoosh the silk around in the dye to get it evenly coated.

4) Repeat with more scarves/colors if you want. I was able to fit about 4 quart sized Ziploc bags comfortably in my 8×8 Pyrex dish.

5) IMPORTANT: Before placing in the microwave, open the Ziploc bags a little bit to vent them. The water will boil in the Ziploc and you want them vented.

6) Place in microwave, and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Let rest 2 more minutes. Using a towel or hot pad, smoosh the silk around in the dye again. (Caution! The bags are hot!) Microwave on high for another 2 minutes. If you are making the small 6×24 ones, you can probably take them out now. If you are making bigger ones, you will want to repeat this one more time: rest 2 minutes, microwave on high 2 more minutes. The key is that you don’t want all the liquid to evaporate. The silk can catch fire in the microwave if you don’t watch them and you ran out of liquid. (Thankfully, do NOT know this from experience.)


7) Take out of microwave, open up the bags and let them cool down slowly to room temperature (or just warm and easy to handle). This slow cool-down process helps set the dye.

8) Once they are cool enough, rinse in water of the same temperature as the silk. Continue to rinse out the dye with cool water until the water runs clear. Now, I sort of felt like the water never ran perfectly clear. So, when it seemed ‘good enough’ to me, I stopped.

9) Hang to dry. They will dry pretty quickly.


10) You can also decide to run them through a rinse cycle on your washing machine (no soap) to get out any remaining dye. This seemed to work well for me. I have a front-loader, so I had to put them in with a few old towels. (The spin cycle doesn’t work right with only a few tiny things in the washer.) None of them bled on the towels/rags, so I take that as a good sign. I sorted them by similar color and ran them through the washer in different loads, just in case. I didn’t want the red silk to bleed onto my yellow one! This will also fade the colors a bit, so it’s up to you if you decide to do this step at all.

11) I also suggest ironing them on a low heat / silk setting since they will be pretty wrinkly.

Making the Silk Streamer Wands

1) Once the silks are dry and ironed, you will need to do a bit of sewing. You can also decide to sew them before dyeing them. It’s up to you. Just fold over the short side of the scarf (the 6″ or 8″ side) about 1/2″. Sew a straight stitch making sure to backstitch at the beginning and end. You are just sewing a little pocket.

2) Screw your eye hooks into your wood dowels. I’ve seen people who decorate the dowels with either paint or by wrapping ribbon around them, which could look very pretty.

3) Cut a length of embroidery floss, about 8″. I tied one end around the tip of a crochet hook, and used the crochet hook to run the floss through the pocket I had sewn in the silk scarf. You can do this some other way, of course, but this seemed to work well for me.


4) Remove the crochet hook, and tie the embroidery floss together to gather the silk. Use the embroidery floss to tie the silk to the eye hook. Try to use a knot that will hold it securely. I used a square knot, I think it’s called, but whatever works for you.


Voila! Wonderful hand-dyed silk streamer wands!

Kool-Aid Color Tips and Other Random Ideas:

* The Lemonade (yellow) isn’t very bright. After running mine through my washing machine, it was really just cream. Maybe I needed more Kool-Aid. I decided to re-dye it, and not run it through the washing machine, and it’s brighter now, but still pretty light colored yellow.

* I made one with ‘Grape’ flavor, and I made another by mixing one ‘Cherry’ and one ‘Berry Blue’. They were almost the exact same shade of purple.

* This can make a fun lesson in color theory for your kids! “What will happen if we mix Berry Blue and Lemonade?”

* If you want to make a striped playsilk, you might try laying it in the Pyrex dish, and using squeeze bottles to apply the dye to specific areas. Not sure how this would turn out, but this is how I’ve heard that people do it.

* Another option instead of Kool-Aid is to use Wilton cake dyes. Just Google that and you’ll get plenty of info! The colors come out brighter and deeper, supposedly.

* Another fun idea would be to dye a silk a deep blue color and then use gold metallic paint to paint stars, comets, etc. on the silk. Wouldn’t that be cool??

Reversible Bird Seed Skirt GIVEAWAY!!!!


Reverisble Bird Seed Skirt GIVEAWAY!!!!

Grosgrain is having an awesome giveaway this week. How cute is this reversible skirt??? I have this Alexander Henry bird seed fabric in pink. I might have to try to make a similar skirt. I have no idea how to make a little girl’s skirt, and I don’t have any little girls myself to wear it, but I’ve got some nieces who would love it, I’m sure! I’ll just have to add it to my very long “crafty inspiration” list.

Felt Board + Kidlet


I love this idea that I found on JC handmade (via The Crafty Crow‘s mention). She has a tutorial for making a felt play board out of a stretched artist canvas. So easy! Then what I especially love is the idea to hand it on the wall with one of her Kidlet Wall Pocket’s underneath to hold the felt pieces (a little linen bag with a handle for hanging on the wall or doorknob). I think this would make the board very accessible and fun to play with by having it hanging on the wall like art work. You can swap out the felt pieces for new and fun play.

Tutorial Teaser


It’s been on my crafty to do list for a really long time: dyeing playsilks with Kool-Aid. I finally did it this weekend and made these awesome silk streamers. Just wanted to give you a teaser, and I’m planning on posting a full tutorial in the next few days.

Remember that idea I posted a few weeks ago from Soulemama? The Note Writing Ensemble. I’ve decided that I’m definitely making some of those. I think they will make wonderful teacher gifts at the holidays! I was perusing linen bias tape at Super Buzzy. Man, that store has cool stuff.

ETA: Just after I posted this, Soulemama posted a pattern and instructions for her Gratitude Wrap on her blog! Hooray! That will make things much easier. And SuperBuzzy just debuted their new blog today as well. They are giving away an awesome gift set to their 10,000th order.

Freezer paper stencils


We had a momentous occasion this past weekend – our boys’ first camping experience! Hopefully, the first of many more such memorable trips. We had a great time. The campground was awesome (a state park), the lake was perfect for swimming with young children, the mountain views were amazing, the weather was perfect, and we went camping with some good friends and their boys, so the company was also stellar.

Since I have been wanting to try freezer paper stencils for awhile, I used the occasion to make matching bear shirts for all of the boys. I picked up various navy blue shirts in the required sizes for about $2.75-$3 each from Target and Walmart. Per Laura’s recent, similar crafting endeavors (her freezer paper tutorial is here), I also picked up some Tulip “soft” paint and some of the round stencil painting brushes. And the Reynolds Freezer Paper was already in my cupboard!

First, I found a good stencil online, this one from Karen’s Whimsy.

I copied the digital image and just pasted it into a Word document and then enlarged it to the size that I wanted and printed that out. Then, I traced the image onto the dull side of the freezer paper. My image was kind of detailed, with the hair, etc., so it took a little while to cut out. I used my embroidery scissors, and it probably took about 10 minutes to cut out. I was hoping to use the stencil more than once, but they kept tearing when I removed them, so I had to cut out four separate stencils. I’m not sure if you could re-use the stencil if the image was simpler or not.


Make sure you place some newspaper or another piece of freezer paper on the inside of your shirt so the paint doesn’t bleed through onto the back of the shirt! I cut out the stencil, placed the freezer paper stencil onto my shirt with the wax side down, and pressed it with a warm iron for about 10-15 seconds. I made sure that all the little edges adhered well, and then it was ready to paint! I used white paint, and it took two coats to create a nice image.

ETA: Also make sure you pre-wash your shirts to ensure they don’t shrink significantly after you’ve completed your project. This is actually a great project for an old shirt with a stain on the front! What’s old is new again!

After one coat:

After two coats:

Once it dried (according to the paint directions, it said 4 hours), I peeled off the paper and voila! Very, cute t-shirts for all the boys!


I haven’t yet washed them, but the paint doesn’t say you need to do anything to set the image. I might dry them first in my dryer for 15 minutes, just to be safe. And I will wash them inside out, and by themselves the first time. The boys have already put in requests for some new designs!

ETA: Washed the bear shirts and they turned out great. No bleeding or running of paint. I just washed them inside out on cold with similar colored clothes.

Montessori aprons

J’s teacher asked me to make some things for his classroom over the summer. One of the things that I am doing is making new aprons for various themed practical life activities. She gave me an example of an apron that works well – it’s just full coverage front and back, slips over the head, no ties. Very simple. I’m just making them out of cotton and they can be washed (they have a washer/dryer at school). I asked her if she wanted me to use that iron-on vinyl to vinyl-ize them, but she assured me that cotton would work just fine. That’s fine by me!

So, I’ve started the apples apron. I just cut two pieces of fabric and then am sewing on extra wide double bias tape around the neckline and around the outside. I bought some cotton tote bag handle stuff to sew onto the shoulder area for the kids to hang up the aprons when they are done with the activity. The process is pretty easy, but I haven’t really had time to get into the project more. I think once I sit down with them though, that they will go pretty quickly. Too bad my craft room is just so hot in this heat wave that we are experiencing!

So, in the picture below, we have the apples in the back, half-finished. Then, from left to right, we have:

  • Carrots (this is Michael Miller fabric that I picked up for $2.99/yd, cute!) – for a carrot peeling activity
  • Bananas – for banana slicing
  • Pumpkins/leaves for fall-type activities
  • Strawberries – for some spring/summer type things
  • Oranges/lemons – for citrus juicer activities
  • Coffee beans – for the coffee bean grinder activity
    (the link is to a different grinder than we have in our classroom, ours is an old-fashioned wooden, drawer-type grinder)
  • Gingerbread boys/girls – for something around the holidays


Depending on the quantity of fabric that I purchased, I plan on backing the aprons in either the same fabric (as I am doing for the apples) or I also bought just some plain natural colored cotton. The Citrus was a bit spendy since I bought it at my local quilt shop, so that is definitely going to be a plain-backed one! But, it’s worth it, it’s so perfect and adorable. Thankfully, we have this cool, warehouse/overstock store here in Maine, and most of the fabric was only $2.99/yd!

I’m not sure J’s teacher knows what she is getting into by asking me to do this. I think she was thinking just apples and bananas, but then I found all these other *perfect* fabrics. She’s going to have to come up with activities for them all!!

Montessori aprons

J’s teacher asked me to make some things for his classroom over the summer. One of the things that I am doing is making new aprons for various themed practical life activities. She gave me an example of an apron that works well – it’s just full coverage front and back, slips over the head, no ties. Very simple. I’m just making them out of cotton and they can be washed (they have a washer/dryer at school). I asked her if she wanted me to use that iron-on vinyl to vinyl-ize them, but she assured me that cotton would work just fine. That’s fine by me!

So, I’ve started the apples apron. I just cut two pieces of fabric and then am sewing on extra wide double bias tape around the neckline and around the outside. I bought some cotton tote bag handle stuff to sew onto the shoulder area for the kids to hang up the aprons when they are done with the activity. The process is pretty easy, but I haven’t really had time to get into the project more. I think once I sit down with them though, that they will go pretty quickly. Too bad my craft room is just so hot in this heat wave that we are experiencing!

So, in the picture below, we have the apples in the back, half-finished. Then, from left to right, we have:

  • Carrots (this is Michael Miller fabric that I picked up for $2.99/yd, cute!) – for a carrot peeling activity
  • Bananas – for banana slicing
  • Pumpkins/leaves for fall-type activities
  • Strawberries – for some spring/summer type things
  • Oranges/lemons – for citrus juicer activities
  • Coffee beans – for the coffee bean grinder activity
    (the link is to a different grinder than we have in our classroom, ours is an old-fashioned wooden, drawer-type grinder)
  • Gingerbread boys/girls – for something around the holidays


Depending on the quantity of fabric that I purchased, I plan on backing the aprons in either the same fabric (as I am doing for the apples) or I also bought just some plain natural colored cotton. The Citrus was a bit spendy since I bought it at my local quilt shop, so that is definitely going to be a plain-backed one! But, it’s worth it, it’s so perfect and adorable. Thankfully, we have this cool, warehouse/overstock store here in Maine, and most of the fabric was only $2.99/yd!

I’m not sure J’s teacher knows what she is getting into by asking me to do this. I think she was thinking just apples and bananas, but then I found all these other *perfect* fabrics. She’s going to have to come up with activities for them all!!