In pursuit of a simple, fabulous, imperfect life at home.

Tie Dye Play Silks

As part of our journey to simplify our lives, we are deliberately choosing good open-ended toys for our kids, things that can be used a million different ways and encourage imaginative play.  Also, I'm choosing crafts and activities for the kids that result in real items they can use, play with, or give away.  No more paper plate crafts hanging out on my kitchen counter! (Truth be told, I never liked paper plate crafts anyways.)

So tie dying play silks was two birds with one stone.  A fun activity for a sunny afternoon, and a simple open-ended toy for imaginative play!

We used 35" square silk scarves from Dharma Trading Company and a Jacquard tie dye kit.  I picked this kit because it included the soda ash dye fixer, which helps fabrics to absorb and retain the dye.  Any kit you get will come with instructions....but I'll take you through a little photo tutorial of our project.

You start by soaking the scarves in water.

Then you wrap and twist and fold the scarves to your liking, and bind them with elastics.


You dissolve the soda ash in a bucket of hot water.

And soak the scarves in it for 20 minutes.

While the scarves are soaking, mix up the dye. If you are like me you will think that there is no possible way you could get dye on your hands just mixing it up, and you'll be wrong.  And then you'll have to take the kids to their scheduled check-up at the doctors office with tie dyed hands.

So don't be like me.  Wear gloves, silly! 

Let your kids spray dye all over themselves, the deck, and the backyard in general.  Ummm, I mean, the scarves.

Wrap up the scarves in something so that they don't come in contact with anything you ever want to use again.  I reused the bags that the scarves came in for this purpose.  Let sit for 24 hours.

The next day, rinse the scarves and then wash and dry them.  If our neighbours weren't already pretty sure they lived next door to hippies, they are now.

So far our play silks have been used as doll blankies, teddy bear diapers, super hero capes, nativity costumes (look mom,I'm just like Mary from the bible!), picnic blankets, fort walls and props for a 5 year olds impromptu theatrical dances. And we've only had them for a day and a half!

Thanks so much for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking!


  1. we have a smaller set of these I dyed using Kool aid. They get so much play from our 15 month and three year old.

  2. We just made a few ourselves using fabric markers! The scarves are such a versatile toy. Yours came out beautifully and they are a great size. I wish I had made ours a bit bigger. We may just have to try again. :)

  3. I'm going to try this with my kids. My oldest is really into being creative and my youngest just wants to be like her big brother.

    Awesome idea. :)

  4. Thank you for showing off your beautiful scarves. They are great for play, dress-up, and make-believe. I love dying fabric. Dharma Trading Company also sells (or used to sell) "color cords," which are long pieces of string that have the dye embedded in them. Each package had a variety of colors included. You use the dye-embedded strings to tie your fabric. Bundle it as desired, put the fabric into a plastic bag, add warm salt water and seal/tie. Then boil the fabric, still in the bag, in a pot of water on the stove for about 30 minutes, before removing it, cooling it, and removing the strings. I have also laid the strings across the fabric and folded it to get a sort of barbed-wire look. We add salt to the wash water in the washing machine to set the dye on the first wash (separately, of course). I have a whole package of white T-shirts just waiting for a good day to dye.

    We have done this as a birthday party activity, since there are no liquid dyes to get spilled by kids. We did it in the backyard and used the camp stove to do the boiling, so no wet dye entered the house. I'd never heard of this kind of tie-dying until someone else showed me.

  5. This is SO AWESOME!!! You must be the most fun Mom EVER!!

  6. Berenstein Bears ge the gimmies! I love it. It's a well worn book at my house and Im constantly reminding them about it. Seems to work too.

    Thanks for the tutorial. It's been ages since I've tie dyed and believe it or not I just picked some up but haven't been brave enough to get it started. So thanks for the step by step instructions. :)

  7. Hi, just found your blog via Pinterest. I have to say I am in total love with your blog and in awe of you. I have a 3 bed English (small) house with only 3 children a stay at home mum , one income and completely harrassed overcome and forever keeping up, never on top of everything. I don't know how you do it but I will keep watching to hope some of you rubs of on me:)

  8. lol the line about the neighbours thinking you're hippies totally cracked me up!

    Also: fun project! We did tie-dye with the girls in our Kingdom Seekers girls' club at church last season to make our club shirts for the big year-end rally, and the girls had a lot of fun with it and they turned out great!

    I like how you did an activity where the results give your kids lots of future imaginative play time! Ohh, how I heart your blog. I like the way you write and the things you post about. So great - thank-you :)

  9. They turned out great! And I definitely agree with you about making crafts that will actually turn into something useful!

  10. Oh, you're an artistic, imaginative mommy! I love your pictures. It's a great idea.

  11. Thank you so much for this awesome idea. Just finished making some play silks for my 14 month old. They turned out great!!

  12. This is such an adorable idea!! I love your work!! thank you for this! ! :)

  13. Hi there! I found you over the weekend via pinterest (cleaning microfiber couches) and have been pouring over your archives ever since. Your posts (on both blogs) have been the motivation and inspiration I have been praying for! Something about the way you write and what you write about just speaks to me. I am so grateful for the work you have put into this blog. Thank you :)

  14. What a fun idea for using tie dye with kids. I love it! And I love your blog. So need the inspiration for my own home. Thanks for writing and sharing!


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