One of the key things on my wish list of play resources for my family day care was a full set of coloured play silks.
They are essentially a fancy version of basic coloured scarves in the dress up box. But there was something nice about having a uniform set of bright solid coloured fabrics for the children to explore and play with.
I had shopped around online for various options, and also checked out the option of buying some plain white silk squares and dyeing them myself.
Then one day as I was clearing out Grace’s closet, I came across my stash of flat cotton muslins which I had used some time back on her when she was a little baby. The size was perfect was perfect for a lot of versatile play. The drape and flowiness was not quite the same as silk, but not too bad.
So after some research and chatting with a few DIY-savvy friends, I picked up three packs of Dylon fabric dye, one in each of the primary colours. And on one bright, sunny morning, I gave the muslins a good, thorough wash and got to work transforming the plain white squares of cotton into these rainbow hues…
We’ve been having heaps of fun playing all sorts of games like peek-a-boo, Jack-in-the-box, dancing, dress-up play and superheroes with these play muslins. There is so much scope for imagination in them. I’m so pleased with these new additions in our play area.
These play muslins would be a fairly simple and more economical option to play silks. And if you have been toying with the idea of buying or making your own play silks, this might a possible alternative to consider.
I don’t really have a step-by-step tutorial for these play muslins, but I thought I’d compile a few tips and pointers on how to get started:
- You can find these muslin cotton squares in most baby sections of large departmental stores in Malaysia and Singapore. In Australia they might be known as Gerber or birdseye weave flat nappies. I’ve come across them before at a couple of baby specialty stores like Babyroad and Baby Bunting. But you can easily also find them online at very cheap prices.
- Choose a fabric dye that is suitable for the type of fabric you are using. In the case of these muslin squares, cotton. I used Dylon and I believe Rit dyes would also work as well. I’ve seen some DIY play silks tutorials which use Kool-aid or food colouring, but I don’t think these options would be suitable for dyeing cotton fabrics.
- Follow the instructions on the selected fabric dye closely, including weighing the fabric and using the correct proportions of water to the amount of dye.
- FYI, here are the Dylon shades I used for my project: Tulip Red, Bahamas Blue, Sunflower Yellow. I got the green shade from mixing equal parts of Bahamas Blue and Sunflower Yellow together.
- If you plan to use primary colours to mix and make other colours, mix the dye with the correct proportion of water first. Ensure everything is properly diluted, then measure out the appropriate proportions of each coloured water into a separate pot.
- The amount of leftover coloured water after dyeing the fabric might tempt you to dump in other fabrics and materials to soak up the remaining dye. There is no harm in this, but bear in mind that the intensity of colour will vary using the leftover water. I did this with the leftover red water with a couple of extra muslins squares as I figured red would be a very popular colour. You can see that two of the reds in the pictures above look a little more faded and a little uneven in colour compared to the other two. I didn’t really mind as these were just extra muslins. But if you’re planning to throw in a shirt or something to use up the colour, just bear this in mind.
P.S. Previous additions to our collection of loose parts for imaginative and free play.