Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dye a Rainbow silk...revisited!

Rainbow silks (and rainbows in general!) are a very popular plaything here at The Rosebud Playschool...
How could they not be? They are so lovely to look at.

Last year, I set out to create my own rainbow silks....the high prices at Nova and other natural toy suppliers were kind of out of control to me.
This tutorial I created was alright, but the colors never seemed to flow into one another in a most beautiful way.
During my time at Sunbridge this past Summer, one of the teachers mentioned that her birthday gift to each student was always a rainbow silk. Ahh! My ears perked and I shot my hand up into the air....
"How do you dye them?", I asked...
"Easy", she replied.....

Gather your supplies:
-Red dye  (I use a RIT dye, for lack of any other easily attainable plant dye)
-Blue dye (I use indigo)
-Yellow dye (I use Turmeric)
-purchase silks here (the best prices I have found)

Begin with the red dye; prepare the dye in a large pot where the silk can move freely. Submerge 1/3 of the silk into the red dye bath. I leave the silk in for about 10 minutes. Rinse.
Next, prepare the blue dye bath. Submerge the other 1/3 (the opposite end) int o the blue dye bath. The middle section of your silk should still be blank. Rinse.
Lastly, prepare the yellow dye bath. Submerge the middle section *and* half of the red and half of the blue. The yellow will create the orange and green section of the rainbow, of course! I leave this section in the dye bath the longest. (about an hour)
Rinse...and enjoy!

Another technique to try is painting the silk with watercolors. I used Stockmar paints, stretched the silk onto a large piece of cardboard, and used a thick brush to paint each section. Let the silk dry overnight...rinse well. Simple and very fool proof. I made one this weekend and loved the results.

...I even decided to stain one of our handwashing step stools...

I'm beginning preparation for our local Waldorf school's Holiday shopping bazaar...I'll have a table featuring gifts for young children, including rainbow silk blankies. I'll be needing some help with the sewing machine (...I don't sew, folks. At least with a machine. But I am ready to learn!!!), but I am thinking they will turn out nicely and hopefully sell. All proceeds will help with travel costs for next Summer's EC Waldorf teacher looks like it's a go for me!!
Happy creating!


  1. hi there ! just for info sake -- did you know that you could do this with spray bottles as well ? that's how i do mine -- i have a tutorial on my blog as well if you ever want to see ... lovely silks -- don't you just love them -- cottons are lovely too and sewing is a breeze -- you'll be doing it in no time !! much light and love to you

  2. Do you use a fixer or soak your silk in vinegar beforehand or any other tips? I find that my colours kind of wash out afterwards? Perhaps I don't soak them for long enough? How long do you soak the yellow colour?
    Thanks, Daisy x

  3. beautiful and oh so fun! wondering where you buy your silk? Thanks!

  4. Oh you had me with the word rainbow Rebecca! LOVE rainbow silks so I must try this!!!
    Please post your answers to the questions here as I would love to know the answers too!
    Once again I wish we were neighbours we'd have so much fun sewing up those blankies!
    ~ joey ~

  5. Beet juice can create a nice deep red dye. :) Thank you so much for sharing the rainbow technique!

  6. I dye Easter eggs using onion skins....which come out a beautiful red color. Wonder if that would work with silk. Probably. Just collect onion skins and boil them until the water is a deep red.

  7. Just beautiful! Thank you for another great post.Love the colors.

  8. The silks look beautiful. Silk is a wonderful material I love it. But I struggle with the fact that all caterpillars die in the silk industrie. How do you think about that?
    Greetings from Severine

  9. This is perfect. Exactly what I've been looking for! Many thanks.

  10. Thanks for the tip! I tried it out and it works like a charm. I dipped a small piece of the second end in the red as well - got a dark violet out of it when I dipped it in the blue. . . Lovely silks! They will soon appear in my Etsy shop. Thanks for broadening my horizon!

  11. Hi there, is there no need to use soda ash to help set the dye? Thx, Tania :-)

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