I am a huge fan of open ended toys for kids, and these Waldorf inspired DIY play silks are my absolute favorite. They are so simple, yet they are the first things my kids reach for when they play. They are used as capes, skirts, dresses, scarves, necklaces, wings, crowns, baby carriers, hammocks, slings, leashes, flags, sails, ropes, trains, boats, tents and more. I am constantly surprised by their creativity, which is exactly why I love toys like these.
We started out with only 6 DIY play silks, and after nonstop arguing over them, I gave up and made 6 more. 12 seems to be the magic number for us, enough that there aren’t (as many) fights, but not too many that they don’t all get used.
Dyed play silks can be pricey to buy, but plain silk scarves are relatively inexpensive. Unfortunately my kids don’t share my love of all things white, so they wouldn’t have been fans of the silks the way I bought them. But with a little food coloring and some white vinegar, they are now bright and fun and colorful.
How to make DIY Play Silks
You will need:
- 8mm silk scarves in the size of your choice (ours are 30″ x 30″)
- liquid food color
- distilled white vinegar
- a large pot & spoon
- Pre-wash your silks by hand in warm soapy water. Use a gentle laundry detergent or baby shampoo. Rinse well.
- Soak the cleaned silks in hot water with vinegar for at least an hour.
- Fill a large pot with about 4 liters of water. Bring to a simmer, then add 2 cups of distilled white vinegar.
- Add food coloring and mix well. The amount of food coloring I used for each color is listed below.
- Place one silk into the pot and stir constantly until the silk has absorbed much of the dye from the water. The time this takes will vary by color.
- Remove the silk from the dye, and rinse with cold water until the water runs clear.
- Wring out the excess water and hang to dry.
- Dump the water from the pot and repeat with your next color.
- When the silks are dry, iron on the silk setting. This is not necessary, but they get pretty crinkly, and ironing them makes them nice and silky again.
How to clean and care for your play silks:
If your silks get played with as much as ours do, they will need to be cleaned from time to time. Soak silks in a large bowl or pot of warm water with gentle laundry detergent or baby shampoo. Swish with your hands. Rinse with cold water and hang to dry, then iron. It is best to wash colors separately as some color will bleed each time you wash them. If after multiple washes they fade too much, you can simply dye them again using the same colors as the first time. (Write down your color combinations so you can match them exactly.)
Hand Dyed Play Silk Colors:
Getting the right combination of colors is trickier than it seems! A lot of my colors didn’t come out exactly how I wanted. But all together I think they look good. And my kids love the rainbow so they are happy.
These are the combinations of colors that I used, from left to right:
fuchsia | 50 drops red, 3 drops blue
red/orange | 50 red, 10 yellow, 3 blue
orange | 25 yellow 5 red
yellow | 30 yellow 1 red
lime | 15 yellow, 3 green
mint green | 14 green, 6 yellow, 2 blue
green | 25 green, 25 blue
light blue | 6 blue, 9 neon blue, 2 neon purple, 3 neon green
dark blue | 18 neon blue, 9 neon purple, 2 neon green
purple | 15 blue, 3 neon purple
dark purple | 18 neon purple, 6 neon blue
pink | 12 neon pink, 2 neon blue
It is normal for the color to be a bit uneven and imperfect. That is the beauty of handmade!
The best part about these play silks?
They make the best travel toys! I made a simple drawstring bag to keep them in, so they are easy to throw in a backpack or carry on. They don’t take up much room and weigh next to nothing. And they keep the kids entertained for hours, no matter where we are.
Rather buy than DIY?