best thing about the things that I made for Luka is that he's quite
aware that they were handmade, and whenever playing with or wearing said
item, likes to say "Mama made it." This is adorable, and makes the
making worth it, if that makes any sense.
took a lot of time but not a particular lot of work, and I'm very happy
with the results. I found 35" square plain white china silks online,
and used some Procion dye that I've had around for ages, and created a
rainbow selection for the kid.
The process is simple,
and sort of meditative, and only smelly during those last ten minutes. I
used some stuff that I had in my stash from ages ago, but would be up
for experimenting with more natural dyes, too, just need to read more
about non-poisonous fixatives for them. These steps will work well for
any fiber reactive dye, for wool or for silk (though you'll want to
agitate at a minimum for the wool, so as to prevent felting).
Put anywhere from 1 to 5 teaspoons of dye in a 1 quart Pyrex (or other
glass) cup. I achieved a very rich dye color, but also probably could
have dyed a LOT of more fabric, by using just over 5 teaspoons. A silk
can probably end up with a lovely but less bombastic color by using only
2. Mix in a small amount of cold water
with your dye powder, and blend with a spoon (stainless steel or plastic
are just fine) until smooth. Add one cup of hot, not boiling, water, to
your dye paste. Stir well to dissolve the dye, and then pour into your
dye bath container (a large stainless steel or glass pot would be best -
but make sure that it's not copper or aluminum).
Using the same Pyrex dish (will probably have a bit of dye liquid left
in it - don't rinse that out), measure 2 cups of very warm water and add
at least 5 tablespoons of uniodized salt. (If you used a much lighter
concentration of dye to water, then you can likely use less salt - the
salt's purpose is to make the dye particles leave their solution and
"drive" themselves into your fabric, so if you want a more lightly dyed
piece, less salt will do. However, the salt also helps the end product
dye more evenly - something that I'd definitely corroborate, as I played
with the salt concentration some in each batch, and certainly came out
with more a slightly more streaky silk when I used less salt.) Stir the
salt until it dissolves (a good reason for using fine crystals, but even
large kosher salt flakes will eventually dissolve) and pour into your
4. Add your silk(s). If you plan on making
these for more than one child, or want to make more than one silk the
same color, this recipe should have enough power for several silks. The
general directions are for a pound of fabric, and one 35" square silk at
8mm weighs approximately 1/15 of a pound.
enough water so that the silk(s) is(are) covered, and can still move
around a bit, too. Take tongs (not aluminum; the kind either made out of
or covered with silicon are great for this) and stir the fabric in the
dye bath, making sure that all of the water gets mixed with the dye
solution. Completely cover the silk with the dye liquid.
Place your container on the stove, and heat it gradually to a simmer
(this will be a different heat setting depending on your stove - you
don't want to boil the dye bath all at once, so being a bit conservative
is just fine, too). Once your liquid is simmering, set a timer for 10
minutes. Hold it at the simmer for that time, and stir frequently.
As your timer goes off, measure out 2/3 of a cup of white vinegar. Pour
this into your dye bath. I moved the scarf to the side and then poured
the vinegar onto the bath itself, but that was probably not particularly
necessary. Stir your dye bath (this is the stinky part), and let it
simmer for another 10 minutes. Stir only infrequently.
Remove your container from the stove, and rinse your silk(s) in hot
water. If you have it, something like Synthrapol works really well, but I
didn't use this and my scarves haven't seemed to bleed any dye. Rinse,
rinse, rinse - first with hot water, then with medium-hot water, then
with warm water, and finally with cold. This takes a while - if you
progress too quickly to cold, your water will run clean but there will
likely still be excess dye particles in the silk, leading to bleeding
down the line. I used the tongs when rinsing in hot water, and sort of
swirled the silk back and forth around the tongs - seemed to do the
trick and avoid burned fingers.
9. Air dry.
10. Play. We're still learning how to play with them; currently, his favorite use
is putting them directly over his head and walking around. Capes are
still a no-go.
I wish that I could credit myself with coming up with this wonderful idea, but nope: I got it from here
(which is, incidentally, an awesome repository of great ideas). I made
one of these for my niece (her brother seemed to like it more), two for
the daughters of friends, and a couple for L*, too. He calls them
"flags" and (so far) refrains from any bonking with them.
don't have any necessary points to add to the tutorial, since she does a
great job showing you how. I found some reasonably priced 100% wool
felt sheets at Hobby Lobby in really great colors, but also made some of
my embellishments out of felted sweaters that I've been using for other
projects. The thicker the felt, the more substantial the wand (and I
wanted these to be able to withstand some vigorous play). I was able to
find virgin wool for a reasonable price through Local Harvest, which feels luxurious and seems to fill better than the old polyester or cotton batting stuff I was otherwise used to.
Baby scarves and hats
Kangaroo + joey "ornament"