DiY Playsilks - Dyeing with Kool Aid for Vibrant Colors

DiY Playsilks :: Dyeing with Kool Aid

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How to Dye Playsilks with Kool Aid

I finally worked my way into a friend’s house with a microwave to make a set of playsilks. We did our dyeing with Kool Aid which resulted in lovely, vibrant colors.

Aren’t they beautiful?! 

I just want to eat them up.

I mentioned wanting to do this Kool-Aid dyeing in my post about dressing up and playing pretend. It’s one that I found on Kristen*Can, with the original tutorial here.

Playsilk Dyeing with Kool Aid

This post contains affiliate links. What you’ll need:

Rachel and I split my order of 12 undyed Habotai 30″ silk scarves from Dharma Trading Co.

Kool Aid for Dye

I bought about 20 packets of Kool-Aid and felt a little funny taking them up to the register. Kool-Aid was not a part of my childhood. We frequented the “health nut” coop before it was remotely popular and ate things like carob chips and home-ground flour. I always wanted to be “normal,” but alas, it turns out that buying Kool-Aid does not a normal person make you.

We thought we’d dye two scarves at a time in each color, but it turned out that there was just room for one at a time. And the color from the Kool-Aid was gone from the water after one silk was dyed so we couldn’t reuse it. I had to make another run to the grocery store and repeat my Kool-Aid buying experience.

Dyeing with Kool Aid :: The How To

Preparing White Silks for the Kool Aid Dye

First soak all undyed silks in hot water with a dash of vinegar (we used distilled white vinegar) for half an hour.

Dye Playsilks with Kool-Aid

Then, for each silk, mix the following in a glass bowl ::

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 3 packets of Kool-Aid

The kids loved helping with this part.

Then add the playsilk, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for three minutes.

You’re supposed to let it sit for three minutes, stir, then repeat the microwaving and sitting three times total for each silk. Others had commented on how dark the silks get and I wanted to try for a lighter playsilk, so I just did the whole process once for my silks. Rachel wanted to try two rounds of microwaving for hers, although I don’t think the color was appreciably different.

How to Dye Playsilks with Kool Aid

After the microwaving process, the silks are supposed to be hung to dry. Then washed in cold water (I put them in the sink with dish soap one at a time–the red bled a little bit) and dried again. For the second drying, I put them in the dryer with a couple of towels for a very short short, cool cycle.

The tutorial also calls for ironing them, which I haven’t done yet. I like the wrinkled look (and don’t like to iron). However, I wonder if it’s part of the color-setting process.

Update: Our kool aid dyed playsilks have lasted 6 years now with little fading.

How to Dye Playsilks with Kool Aid

Kool Aid Dye Colors

Here are the flavors of my playsilks from left to right (if I remember correctly):

  • Lemonade Kool Aid = Yellow
  • Orange Kool Aid = Orange
  • Pink Lemonade Kool Aid = Pink
  • Cherry Kool Aid = Red
  • Lemon Lime Kool Aid = Apple Green
  • Grape Kool Aid = Purple

We tried for a blue playsilk with a blue Kool Aid packet of tropical punch but ended up with another red. And black cherry looked like it might be purple but turned out to be a dark red with a purple tinge. (I owe Rachel a trade for one of her three reds)

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DiY Playsilks - Dyeing with Kool Aid for Vibrant Colors

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40 Comments

  • Reply
    Melissa A
    March 25, 2008 at 5:04 am

    We made playsilks before Christmas, and it is lots of fun. We boiled ours on the stove, so it was a slightly different method. I also felt strange buying so much kool-aid. Although I grew up drinking kool-aid, I do not let O drink it!

  • Reply
    molly
    March 25, 2008 at 5:09 am

    I was just thinking about a project like this but wasn’t sure where to get the scarves. What fun! Thanks.

  • Reply
    Rachel
    March 25, 2008 at 5:38 am

    i second that they are very beautiful! for those of you considering making these, make sure you map out a good chunk of time! it was helpful to have 2 mommies present so one of us could be on child duty and one with the scarves. they were fun to make and the kids loved the bright colors in the bowls.
    so far, my boys and i have hid under them, spread them out, and made them small. i anticipate some forts, hiding them, peek-a-boo games, toting them around in our newly borrowed wagon :), and much more. i’ll keep you posted!

  • Reply
    Kristen
    March 25, 2008 at 6:17 am

    Oh these are great! I have plans to kool-aid dye some yarn this summer with my kids. Maybe we will do scarves too.

  • Reply
    Kim
    March 25, 2008 at 6:39 am

    We did Kool-Aid yarn dyeing last year. We also dyed cheap silk that I bought by the yard and then cut up on the bias. Makes nice hair ribbons for girls!

  • Reply
    melissa s.
    March 25, 2008 at 7:24 am

    beautiful colors! can’t wait to try this!

  • Reply
    Playsilks Daisyeyes
    March 25, 2008 at 9:29 am

    […] Both of mine love to dress up and even the baby is getting into the act of pretend play. The Artful Parent posted a how-to about dyeing your own playsilks. Apparently you can buy them very cheaply and then use Kool-Aid to dye them. Check it out, […]

  • Reply
    Montessori Mama
    March 25, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    SO funny you mention carob chips I remember (fondly) the first time I ate chocolate, or what I have from then to now referred to as “REAL chocolate”! Carob being from then on known only as (obviously) “FAKE chocolate”
    (sorry carob fans)
    My mom was a nurse and “REAL chocolate” was reserved for birthdays.
    About the scarves…
    THANK YOU for posting both the process and where to purchase them! I can’t wait to do this for my toddler class this fall.
    In PEACE
    Jennifer

  • Reply
    Sara
    March 25, 2008 at 10:57 am

    What a great idea! Thanks for the info. I didn’t drink Kool Aid either. It was off limits in our household. Until now I didn’t think anyone else knew what carob chips were. :)
    -Sara

  • Reply
    MamaBird
    March 25, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Love this idea! And they turned out so beautifully- xo a carob lover ;)

  • Reply
    Susan
    March 25, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    Can I just tell you that this blog is totally awesome?!? You are doing an amazing job with it. Thanks for taking the time to share all these wonderful ideas!

  • Reply
    threesneakybugs
    March 25, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    Nice job! I’ve been wanting to do this ever since you mentioned it the first time. Thanks for the link on where to buy some scarves. Looks like a good resource.

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    March 25, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Ha! Yes to the carob chips vs real chocolate. Thank goodness for real chocolate!

  • Reply
    Jody
    March 25, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    This is on my to-do list. I’ve been waiting for the weather to warm up so we can make them outdoors. Seeing yours make me want to make them sooner. They look beautiful.

  • Reply
    jo ebisujima
    March 26, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    This looks like a great idea but I have no idea what kool-aid is! In my head I think it is some kind of powder you mix with water to make a drink but I have never seen the real stuff, I don’t suppose anyone knows if there is a japanese equivalent?

  • Reply
    My to do list This Place
    March 26, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    […] Dye Play Silks with Kool-Aid this one would be great to do with my sisters next time we get together […]

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    March 26, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    You’re right about what it is. I wonder if you could order it? Although, if you look at the original tutorial that I mention, they list another way to dye playsilks. You could look into the non-Kool-Aid version. Jean

  • Reply
    mjm
    March 27, 2008 at 4:53 am

    why kool aid?

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    March 27, 2008 at 7:41 am

    I suppose any dye might work, even cabbages and turmeric, especially if you add the vinegar to help set it. Kool-Aid comes in a variety of bright, fun colors. Maybe that’s why. Anyone else know?

  • Reply
    tif
    March 30, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    beautiful silks jean! we’ve been camping for 10 days and I’ve missed your blog.
    I dyed silks a few years ago – we still use them almost daily. We made a really pretty blue with kool-aid – and I can’t remember which flavor. It may have been a blue raspberry? It turned a light icy blue.

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    March 31, 2008 at 3:41 am

    I wish we had picked out a blue kool-aid color! Maybe next time…

  • Reply
    molly
    April 7, 2008 at 6:03 am

    We’ve been working on dying some playsilks this morning and my 2 year old is having a ball. I must say though, the smell of the Kool Aid/cling wrap is almost making me sick — anyone else feel this way? I was looking around for something less pungent and found this site with an extensive list of natural dyes: http://www.pioneerthinking.com/naturaldyes.html. We might give it a try next time. And, we would also like to make a blue — it is my girl’s favorite color and we couldn’t find anything that would make a blue in the Kool Aid aisle!

  • Reply
    caly
    April 9, 2008 at 9:03 am

    where can i get the silks? for some reason the link you posted isn’t working for the white silks. :( TIA! I so want to do this project

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    April 9, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Hmm. I just tried a few different ways to get to their site, but can’t so think that maybe it’s just their site which isn’t working right now. It’s the Dharma Trading Company and their website is http://www.dharmatrading.com. I bought the 8mm white playsilks that are 30″ square. They were about $2.50 each I think.

  • Reply
    Play Silks Three Sneaky Bugs
    August 10, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    […] remember where I saw it first but I basically followed this how-to, while incorporating from what a couple others had done. And Im happy to report I even found the elusive blue color! Heres […]

  • Reply
    Dyed silks | mommaTy
    August 17, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    […] ago at my parents. Ive been wanting to do this since I saw them here (and then more here). My mom ordered the silks (some 30, some 12) and then I purchased the million […]

  • Reply
    Muses of Megret Mondays List o Links
    September 29, 2008 at 4:18 am

    […] – We have yet to buy playsilks for the kids I want to, I just always forget. The Artful Parent shows an easy way to dye them with Kool-Aid. […]

  • Reply
    Having Fun at Home
    October 7, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Love these scarves- and what a fun way to use kool-aid ! This post would be a perfect one to link up to “Twice the Fun Tuesday” at my site havingfunathomeblog.blogspot.com.
    Twice the Fun is a weekly mr. linky about creative repurposing that will start next Tuesday (Oct 14.) It would be great to see your post there!

  • Reply
    Homeschool Week 5 | A Simple Kind of Life
    October 12, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    […] helped me create a Nature Table We had lunch and the kids played. I also took the time at home to die some playsilks. They really turned out well! Im happy with the results and they make a […]

  • Reply
    By Hand. www.lusaorganics.com
    October 30, 2008 at 8:25 am

    […] baby bedding. You can purchase blanks from Dharma Trading Company and dye them yourself, even with Kool Aid if you are up for surprise […]

  • Reply
    Easter Eggs and Playsilks Cygnet Small
    April 10, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    […] dye to color a couple of white playsilks that we had not dyed the last time when we tried the Kool Aid method. I mixed the colors together so there was enough (blue + purple, red + orange, and green + […]

  • Reply
    Balancing Everything A blustery day
    May 20, 2009 at 10:29 am

    […] we dyed some playsilks with Kool-Aid using this method. With all of the construction going on in the house, I didnt have any place to air dry them, […]

  • Reply
    Jessica
    July 25, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Thanks for the tutorial. I too wanted lighter yet vibrant play silks that were similar to Sarah’s Silks. I experimented and think I have found the answer. The key is not the amount of microwaving, but the amount of kool-aid. Use one to one and a half packages and the silks come out just right. Also the lemon-lime (green) and orange kool-aid colors are too harsh. Use one package of either and mix half a yellow package the result is much softer and is just beautiful! The trick to the purple is not buying grape! But Strawberry (red) and Ice Blue Raspberry lemonade (blue)= purple. Depending on the shade of purple you want mix more of blue or red. A little goes a long way 1/4 -1/2 a packet total is just right. Hope that helps!

  • Reply
    Patricia
    August 23, 2011 at 11:02 am

    do you know if you could dye cotton t-shirts using this method? I have a Daisy Girl Scout Troop and we are making troop shirts this year.
    Thanks

  • Reply
    molly
    August 23, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Jean, we have the same batch of colors (with a couple of reds, for the same reasons)! Did you find that the smell of the microwaving koolaid was unbearable? I almost couldn’t stand it! But we loved the playsilks so much that it didn’t matter. We also tried dying one with onion skins, and it gave a sort of brownish yellow (very pale). I’d like to try it again with some other natural dyes, but we’d have to give them as gifts because we already have a nice bunch of silks!

  • Reply
    MaryAnn F. Kohl, art book author
    August 23, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Makes you wonder about drinking Koolaid, doesn’t it?

  • Reply
    molly
    August 23, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    Jean, I just realized that I commented on this post when you originally posted it. I thought you had done this before! Anyway, must be in need of sleep. Turning the computer off now. :)

  • Reply
    Raymona T
    July 20, 2012 at 1:55 am

    I Kool -aid tie dyed white cotton shirts. The coloring did not hold. However, I did not think of boiling /cooking them. When my kids were little and I had a day care I used the kool -aid to dye homemade play dough. I did let my kids drink Kool -aid, but with the unsweetened packets, I controlled the amount of sugar as well as flavors, which controlled which dye was in the drink. Before I get blasted it was the run in run out drink. Milk with meals juice or water with snacks.

  • Reply
    Mike
    October 16, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    You can actually dye cloths with kool-aid? That’s really cool.

  • Reply
    the monko
    March 12, 2013 at 3:27 am

    Thanks for such a great tutorial. I just made my first kool aid playsilk and it turned out really well. Kool aid is quite expensive here in the UK so I think I’ll probably revert back to regular silk dyes but I’m really glad I tried it and I was shrouded how vibrant the colours are.

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