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How to Dye Silks Naturally

How to Dye Silks Naturally

We love playsilks – they’re wonderful for all kinds of imaginative play including dress up, small world play, and tents. For years I’ve been too intimidated to dry dyeing my own but thanks to a gentle push from the curriculum we’ve been using this year – The Peaceful Press (if you didn’t see our posts from weeks one or two, you can check them out here and here), I finally tried it (and loved it!)! To see just how easy it is to dye your own silks with natural spices and foods, please continue reading below.

dye your own silk natural dyes food homemade playdough recipe how to make 5

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You can find several suggestions for natural dyes in our beloved Farm Anatomy.

To start, I picked up two packages of undyed silks and raided the pantry and fridge to see what I could use as natural dyes.

For the first batch, I started out easy and decided on turmeric.

To Dye Silks Using Turmeric:

  1. In a saucepan, combine 3 cups water and 1 tablespoon turmeric.
  2. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add your wet silk to the pan and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the silk and rinse under hot water several times. I was hoping to rinse the silk until the water ran clear but even after 10 minutes, it never did so I eventually gave up and hung it up to dry.
  5. After rinsing the silk, squeeze the excess water from it and hang it up to dry.
  6. Once dry, iron it on the highest heat setting allowed for the material (your iron should tell you which level is appropriate to use).

After dyeing a silk with turmeric, I realized it wasn’t any more difficult than cooking vegetables for dinner! Next, I decided to try my hand at cabbage dyed silks.

To Dye Silks Using Cabbage and Baking Soda:

  1. In a saucepan, combine 5-6 cups water, 2 cups chopped red cabbage, and 1 tsp baking soda.
  2. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes (I didn’t strain the cabbage before adding the silk but if I were to do it again, I would probably strain it).
  3. Add your wet silk to the pan and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Remove the silk and rinse under hot water several times.
  5. After rinsing the silk, squeeze the excess water from it and hang it up to dry.
  6. Once dry, iron it on the highest heat setting allowed for the material (your iron should tell you which level is appropriate to use).

To Dye Silks Using Cabbage and Apple Cider Vinegar:

  1. In a saucepan, combine 5-6 cups water, 2 cups chopped red cabbage, and 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar.
  2. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes (I didn’t strain the cabbage before adding the silk but if I were to do it again, I would probably strain it).
  3. Add your wet silk to the pan and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Remove the silk and rinse under hot water several times.
  5. After rinsing the silk, squeeze the excess water from it and hang it up to dry.
  6. Once dry, iron it on the highest heat setting allowed for the material (your iron should tell you which level is appropriate to use).

I expected the baking soda version to give me a blue silk and the vinegar version to give me a dark purple silk because those were the colors of the water after simmering but instead, after soaking/rinsing the silks, I was surprised to see that the baking soda version gave me a light, creamy colored silk, while the vinegar gave me a light lavender silk.

Even with the surprising color outcomes, the kids and I had so much fun dyeing silks with natural ingredients. Next, I think I might try some of the recipes given in our Farm Anatomy book. I also found a lot of really neat resources – books, natural dye powders , and more here.

We’ve been playing with the hand-dyed silks for about two months now and they haven’t faded or run at all. Yay!

dye your own silk natural dyes food homemade playdough recipe how to make 2

We even used the leftover colored water to make homemade playdough.

dye your own silk natural dyes food homemade playdough recipe how to make 5

The playdough shown below was dyed with turmeric and red cabbage/vinegar.

dye your own silk natural dyes food homemade playdough recipe how to make 2

If you try dyeing your own silks, leave a comment below and let me know what you used and how it turned out!

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