Toy making: dyed playsilks

Written by Kara Fleck, Simple Kids editor and Rockin’ Granola mama.

Making toys for our children is a favorite hobby of my husband and I.  Over the years we”ve made quite a few of our children”s playthings and given some of our homemade toys away as gifts to other favorite young people in our lives.

It occurred to me that Toy Making might be a good fit as a regular column for Simple Kids.  Christopher and I would love to share with you tutorials for some of the toys that we make for our family. 

Some of the most played with and most versatile toys at our house are also the simplest:  playsilks.  Beautiful, open-ended, gender-neutral, and creativity nurturing, these toys are also very easy (and fun) to make yourself.

Over the weekend my ten year old daughter Jillian, four year old daughter Lucy, and I dyed up some playsilks for baby Amelia.

I took a few photos so that I could share with you how we did it in case some of you want to try your hand at dying your own playsilks, too.

Toymaking: how to dye playsilks

You”ll need:

  • dye (we used Easter egg dye)
  • hot water
  • vinegar
  • playsilks

We used Easter egg dye to dye our playsilks (head over to The Artful Parent to learn how to ).  I purchased a large quantity of egg dye on clearance after Easter this year to use for dying yarn and playsilks.

Source for silk blanks:

These smaller silks are great for peek-a-boo, baby doll blankets, tying into simple dolls, and more.  The ladies handkerchief size is what we used for this tutorial.

Step by step

Step 1:  In a non-reactive container (we used glass mason jars), place 3 Tablespoons of vinegar.

Step 2:  Add your egg dye tablet and 1 Cup of hot water.  Watch it fizz!

The Basic Recipe is 1 egg dye tablet 3 Tbs. vinegar 1 C hot water for each silk hankie.

Step 3:   When the tablet is completely dissolved, place the silk in the jar. We used the egg holders that came with the dye kit to push the silk down until it was completely submerged.

Step 4:   Set it in a sunny place and let the sunshine help dye your silks.  We set ours on the picnic table and left them there for a few hours.

Step 5:   Once the dye appears to be completely soaked into the silk, and there”s not much left in the water, rinse the silks in cold water until the water runs clear.  Hang them up to dry.

That”s it!  You”re done and now you have a pile of pretty silk hankies for peek-a-book, dolly blankets, play scenery, puppet shows, or stuffed animal super hero capes.

Note:  even though the eggs dyes use vinegar as a mordant and are heat set (we used the sunshine, you could also microwave for a few minutes) I”m not 100% sure about their colorfastness, so to be on the safe side, keep these playsilks out of baby”s mouth and don”t let them get wet, okay?

I plan to dye two larger silks as capes (the 44 inch size) to go with Max and Lucy”s super hero masks as part of their Christmas presents this year.  These small handkerchiefs that we dyed over the weekend will go in baby Amelia”s stocking.

Don”t forget that August”s Holiday Kids” Gift Craft-along link-up with be this Saturday, the 25th. How are your homemade holiday kids” gifts coming along?

About Kara

Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She is a small town mama, writer, knitter, bookworm, and hooligan. Kara lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Amelia. You can find more of her writing at

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  1. awesome idea that i’d love to try out. i just don’t find it practical that they’re not supposed to get wet. that would never happen around here i’m afraid. if they are played with regularly i’d really like to wash them from time to time…

    • I totally understand!

      We have many silks (both purchased and that we have dyed ourselves with kool aid and egg dye) and they do, from time to time, get wet and we’ve not personally had any issues with them bleeding. But, I would certainly hate for someone to try an idea they saw here and then have a playsilk accidentally bleed dye onto clothing or furniture or into baby’s mouth. Better safe than sorry if that is a concern for you, for sure! :-)

      Playing with fabric scraps, cotton cloths, and un-dyed muslin can be very fun and creative, too :-)
      Kara´s latest post: Toy making: dyed playsilks

    • Also wanted to add, in case anyone is curious, that you could probably use a chemical to set the dye, like the kits they offer here at Knit Picks for dying yarn:

      However, I was more comfortable using vinegar for children’s things. That is certainly an option that would be more colorfast, tho’ I don’t know about machine washable.

      Hope this helps someone!
      Kara´s latest post: Toy making: dyed playsilks

  2. What a fantastic post. I think we will definitely be doing this! Thanks so much for sharing. And I am totally loving the idea of a regular toy-making column. Can’t wait to see all your ideas!

  3. Thanks, this is perfect. Reminded me of the lovely toys my mum made for me. I believe it was the fish with every scale of different colour that I liked the best. Looking forward to make some toys for my own kids, now :)

  4. These are on my ‘to-do’ list for my youngest for Christmas! I love the idea of doing small hankie sized ones!
    Ashlee´s latest post: Food Friday – Homemade Pickles!

  5. Thanks so much for posting this — my son is a big fan of play silks. I am looking forward to future toymaking posts!

  6. We have been using and dying playsilks in our family for 2 years now. We dye ours with Kool aid which seems to have a great result. Also these silks make great inexpensive birthday gifts.

  7. These are lovely! I will be doing this for sure!!
    Debbye´s latest post: Why Baby Nap Sleep Is Different Than Night Sleep

  8. Cassie Webster says:

    Thank you so much for this post and for including where you bought them! I just ordered and now I am so excited for my girls and I to dye and play with our play silks! I am just now collecting materials for a Waldorf inspired environment at home for my toddler., and this just made my day! 😀

  9. Beautiful! You can simply press them with a hot iron to set the dye colorfast! Then they can be washed. Enjoy! OXO Laura


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