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Bread Bag Dyeing

Kids love bright colors and things they can use for imaginative and open ended play. Play silks are a great item to make for your kids (or kids you know) that will give them hours of fun. You can make them in all shapes and sizes. In this tutorial we will show you a way to quickly dye up a rainbow of scarves all at once with just the primary colors of dye.

Let's Get Started!

Pre-wash all the scarves! Then put all your scarves in a tub with warm water and a drop of detergent to soak while you get everything else ready.

Fill up your pot with enough water so that when the jars are placed in the pot, the water rises at least halfway up the outside of the jars, but not more than ¾ of the way up. Put the pot on the stove (without the jars!) over medium to maximum heat to let the water heat up.

Weigh out one gram of each color; this is about ½ teaspoon (but weighing using a scale is more accurate). To each color of dye powder add one cup hot tap water and stir to dissolve the dye.
Pro-tip: always add liquid to powder! Not the other way around.

Set out your mason jars and add dye solution you made above to them as follows:

  • Jar 1: 4 TB (tablespoon) of #407 Caribbean Blue
  • Jar 2: 4 TB of #414 Sunflower Yellow
  • Jar 3: 4 TB of #411 Deep Magenta
  • Jar 4: 2 TB of #407 Caribbean Blue and 2 tblsp of #411 Deep Magenta
  • Jar 5: 1 TB of #407 Caribbean Blue and 3 tblsp of #414 Sunflower Yellow
  • Jar 6: 1 TB of #411 Deep Magenta and 3 tblsp of #414 Sunflower Yellow
Fill each jar a little more than half way with more hot tap water. Add one scarf to each jar and then top it up with more water to cover the scarf. Stir each jar with a chopstick or skewer to help the dye penetrate the scarf.

Place the jars in the pot on the stove. Adjust the water in the pot if needed to make sure it comes up at least half way around the jars, or take water out if it comes up more than 3/4 of the way. Too much water in the pot and jars will move around too much, which is not safe.

Let the jars simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Don’t let the water in the pot boil as bubbles may form under the jars and “bump” them, which can result in broken jars and a mess to clean up. Stir each scarf every few minutes to help the color penetrate as much as possible.

Now add one tablespoon of vinegar or citric acid solution to each jar. Stir well after you add it in.

Let the scarves simmer for another 15-20 min. or until the water in the jars has turned mostly clear. Keep stirring now and then.

Once the water in the jars is mostly clear, turn the heat off under the pot and let everything cool. This may take an hour or two. The jars are way too hot to pull out and the last bit of color will exhaust as the water cools.

When everything is cool enough to touch without oven mitts, pull the jars out and take out the scarves. Rinse the scarves in cool running water until the water runs clear. If desired you can soak scarves in a fabric softener rinse, or just hang them to dry.

Now you have a 6 color rainbow of scarves ready to play with! What will your scarves be turned into? Pirate bandanas? A princess's sash? Grab 5 friends and have a rainbow race! Children will only be limited by their imaginations!

Shopping list:

Dharma Acid Dyes - we used colors: #414 Sunflower Yellow, #411 Deep Magenta and #407 Caribbean Blue

Citric Acid or Vinegar

6 silk scarves - we used these

6 Quart size Mason jars

Measuring cups and spoons

Large pot(s) that will fit 3 - 6 quart jars at a time

Chopsticks or skewers

Measuring scale - optional


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