What is batik (pronounced ba-TEAK) fabric? Batik fabric is unique, hand-dyed, beautiful, exotic, and slightly addictive once you start buying it.  Technically speaking, it is hand-dyed by applying wax to certain areas of the fabric and then once the wax hardens, the fabric is submerged into beautiful dye.  The wax actually prevents the fibers from absorbing the dye. After being properly submerged, the batik fabric print is then boiled to remove the wax. This fabric-dyeing method gives the fabric a unique look.  Most batiks have a tie-dyed look or may look faded in some areas but then vibrant in other areas.  This is what makes batik quilt fabric so stunning! However, this is just one way batik fabric prints are made. The four other ways batiks can be made are through hand-drawing, digital printing, metal blocks, and screen printing. 

Batik quilt fabrics can actually be made from different weights of fabrics. Most cotton weights work well with the waxing and dyeing processes, so long as the wax is able to penetrate through the material. But finer weaves typically work best for batiks. 

Santorini Batiks Stamps by Claudia Pfeil for Island Batik

Since batik fabric prints are made through such an elaborate process, you may wonder if they bleed when you wash them. The answer is YES. Batik quilt fabrics do indeed bleed, but the best way to avoid a tie-dye batik quilts disaster is to pre-wash your batik fabrics with some water and Retayne. If you’re unfamiliar with Retayne, it’s simply a color fixative that helps “lock” fabric dye in to prevent excessive bleeding. All you need to do is soak your batiks in enough water to completely cover them, add about a teaspoon of Retayne and let it all soak for approximately 20 minutes. Then, give your batiks a rinse with cool water, toss them in the dryer, and voila—tie-dye disaster avoided!

Can batik quilts be washed? Of course! You already know to pre-wash your batiks, but all regular washes of batik quilts afterward should either be by hand or on a very gentle cycle in your machine. And since most batik fabrics are cotton, ironing—preferably on a low or medium setting—is completely safe. 

Check out how batiks make this gorgeous pattern pop! This is the Sew Fine Batiks Happy Little Spools Quilt Kit. Just gorgeous!

Now, when it comes to working with batik fabric prints, most actually don’t have a right or wrong side. Because batiks are dyed all the way through, both sides are typically just as vivid as the other, so there is no right or wrong side. 

One of the best things about batik quilt fabric is how versatile it is–it’s not limited to specific colors or a particular look.  Batiks are great for quilts but make beautiful bags, coats, accessories, and more.  

So, now that you know all about Batiks, what will you make? We can’t wait to see your projects here at Nancy’s Notions! Email us a picture of what you’ve made to inspiration@nancysnotions.com. We may feature your project on our inspiration page! Happy sewing!

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9 months ago

Thank you for this information article! Nice job!

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