Batik fabric is one of the most unusual dyed textiles (usually cotton) available and is great in all kinds of sewing projects – especially for patchwork and quilting but also for dressmaking and for crafting items such as bags. The whole process of creating batik fabric is unique, originating in Indonesia 2000 years ago, and is done completely by hand to create multi-coloured designs and patterns.
To make the design, areas of the fabric are blocked out by applying hot wax over them, and then covered in dye. The parts covered in wax resist the dye and retain the original colour, leaving a gorgeous, unique design after repeat waxing and dyeing. Here are our top tips for sewing with batik fabric.
When to use batik fabrics
As we have already mentioned, there are lots of different ways to use batik fabric in your sewing projects. When creating batik fabric, the wax and dye process can may be applied on any natural fabrics, such as cotton and silk. The textured look of batiks means they are incredibly versatile and prove very popular with quilters and dressmakers alike.
Quilting with batik
Batiks have a great textured look and feel, so they are often an excellent choice for quilting projects. Choose a subtle design as a background colour or a bright vibrant batik print as a feature fabric. Certain batik designs are so rich in colour and so unique, that you really have the ability to create a beautiful and unusual looking quilt that can look good for years to come.
Feel inspired to make this gorgeous batik quilt over at Inspired Quilting by Lea Louise.
Dressmaking with batik
Batiks can really enhance your dressmaking garments, and the fabric is popular for skirts, dresses and tops. Batiks have a depth of colour that is rare in other fabrics, so you have the ability to design some bright and colourful pieces that will work especially well during the warmer months or choose browns and earthy colours for autumn garments.
Bags and Purses with Batik
If you are looking to make a bold new bag as a statement fashion accessory, batik fabric is a great material to use. With so many different designs out there, you can really put your heart and soul into designing an accessory that represents your personality. Or make something small with your batik leftovers like a purse as a beautiful gift for a friend or relative.
To help you when working with batik fabrics, we have put together these tips for you.
Use a sharp, fine needle
Compared to other fabrics, batiks have a much tighter weave. This is to help them through the dyeing process, so they can be quite stiff to work with sometimes and don’t tend to drape softly like traditional cotton quilting fabric. Therefore, when sewing with batik fabrics, it is important to use a sharper and finer needle, which may also be used to sew denim. This not only reduces the risk of damaging the material but also makes the whole process a lot easier for yourself.
Pre-wash the fabric
Before sewing with batik fabrics, it is important to pre-wash the material. This is because the fabric has already been through a dyeing process, so you need to test the fabric for dye fastness and pre-wash to remove any remaining excess dye. Many batik fabrics do have a tendency to bleed more than traditional quilting fabrics, and you want to prevent your creation from bleeding after its completed. Hand washing is also advisable or a cool hand-wash machine cycle.
What is the right side to batik?
In the batik-making process, the wax that creates the design sinks into the fabric - so you may find that both sides look pretty similar. Every batik fabric is different, but there is no specific side which is the ‘right’ side to use in your project. If you look closely at the material, you may find one side has less blurring around the edge of the design, which is often the side that most people use - but it’s entirely up to you, just pick the side which you think is the nicest!
Discover batik fabrics from Fabrics Galore
At Fabrics Galore we re-stock our range of stunning high quality cotton batik fabrics every year from the same supplier in India so that you can bring vibrant colours and unique designs to all your creations. To have a conversation with Paul, or another member of our team about our batik range, you are more than welcome to telephone us on 020 7738 9589.