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Dyeing Playsilks with Kool-Aid

February 1, 2010

I’ve been meaning to write this post for just under forever, but things kept coming up. The playsilks were one of the biggest hits of Christmas gifts and so easy that I needed to share. I will definitely be making more! If you don’t feel like dyeing, but love the idea of playsilks, you can always buy some Sarah’s Silks or already made on etsy. They’re at least $10+ each. depending on the size, and I made 6(and a scarf) for what I would have paid for 1 or 2 without shipping. So this just made more sense.

So, what is a playsilk, you ask? It’s literally a large piece of silk dyed in different fun colors.

And why on earth would your kids need or want them? After watching my kids play with them at even their young ages, playsilks go right up there on the list of absolute must-have toys for all kids. They’re fun, creative, imagination-sparking toys that are so open-ended and let KIDS do the play and imagining!

I’m just sharing the method of dyeing that worked best (and easiest!) for me. There are many out there, so feel free to check the links below to many others who have also dyed playsilks with Kool-Aid in different ways.


-Silk Scarves. I bought them at Dharma Trading, I have also read good things about Thai Silks.

-A large glass or stainless bowl or large pot – something that won’t get stained when you put the Kool-Aid in.

-Distilled White Vinegar


-Unsweetened Kool-Aid powder packets

-Some form of rubber/latex gloves if you don’t want to dye your hands, too

A few notes:

  • I love pastels, so I only used one packet of Kool-Aid per 2 scarves. If you want the colors to be darker/brighter/more vibrant/saturated/etc. you might want to use at least two at a time, possibly even more if you plan to dye more than two silks at a time like I did. I used strawberry, lemon-lime and blue raspberry for our colors.
  • I got the 30″ x 30″ scarves thinking the 35″  x 35″ might be too much for the kids right now. They’re definitely great, but as they grows I know they will like the bigger size more, so if I get more I’ll definitely just do the 35″x 35″ size when I dye more.
  • These color charts were amazingly helpful to get an idea of what the kool-aid colors would actually be.


1. Boil a large pot of water. I used a big stock pot and filled it up so that the water was ready when I needed it. You could easily microwave the water to get it super hot, I just didn’t want to do a ton of batches. Basically, you need enough water with each batch to cover all of the scarves you’re dyeing and still have extra water to swish around.

2. Once the water is boiling and/or super hot, add some vinegar. I added a cup-ish to my whole pot, if you’re doing smaller batches I’d add a Tablespoon or two to each batch. The vinegar helps the dye to set in the fabric.

3. Add hot water with vinegar to your bowl – enough to more than cover all of your scarves for that batch.

4. Add in the packet(s) of Kool-Aid.

5. Stir the Kool-Aid so that it’s evenly mixed into the water.

6. Add your scarves to the water and stir them. (WEAR GLOVES IF YOU’RE DOING THIS WITH YOUR HANDS!)

7. Stir the scarves well until you can see the water beginning to get clear. It’s crazy how you can see the scarves just soak up all of the color from the water!

8. Once the water is clear, you can hang the scarves to dry. A note here – make sure the scarves aren’t touching while they dry. Mine hung on each other a bit and the colors bled onto the other scarves. It isn’t a huge deal at all, but I can see how it might be an even bigger mess with darker or more saturated colors.

9. Once they’re dry, they’re ready to be used!

The finished product:

Some other great tutorials that helped me(thanks!):

On another note – I know I comitted to having their room done this weekend. BUT, I just keep finding more that I want to add!! I feel like we’ll never finish. We finally got the furniture all arranged and about 75% of things hung on the walls. I’m finishing up a few projects, we need to move their chalkboard in, finish the sink and faucet on the play kitchen renovation and do some finishing touches and then it’ll be done for real. In the interim, here’s a messy not-yet-arranged-bookshelf peek because I just  can’t wait to share!

12 Comments leave one →
  1. February 3, 2010 10:33 am

    I always wish I had known about these sooner…I think my daughter would have LOVED these! Great post!

  2. February 3, 2010 10:47 am

    Thank you for sharing this. It is definitely something I plan to do as I have been using the Acid dyes (they are non toxic), but it would be nice to use the Kool Aid with my next batch of silks and yarn.
    Warm wishes,

  3. February 6, 2010 2:28 pm

    How cool!
    And I can’t wait to see their room!!

  4. Melissa Q-M permalink
    June 28, 2010 12:08 am

    I tried this out and the scarves look fantastic! But they smell really strongly, like kool-aid. I didn’t specifically look for sugarless, is that the problem? I hand washed them today but they still stink! Any suggestions?? They are a gift and I have to fix them, or re-do, I can’t give them like this. Any advice is most welcome!

  5. Liz permalink
    October 31, 2012 12:25 pm

    These scarves are Austin’s going to be Christmas present this year.

    Q for you – When you order from Dharma, are you buying individual scarves? So they are about $5 each?

  6. Katie T. permalink
    December 2, 2012 10:37 am

    Wondering about the washability of these scarves? Does the kool-aid dye come out? Because they’re silk, can they be washed?

    • Lillian permalink*
      December 2, 2012 11:07 am

      We’ve definitely washed, no problem! I’ve always been careful to wash with a dark load in case of dye issues.


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