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How to Use Batiks in Quilts

Updated on August 29, 2017
Millionaire Tips profile image

A lover of arts and crafts, Shasta Matova enjoys making artistic, applique, pieced, traditional, miniature, modern, and crazy quilts.

Batik quilt used as a table cover.
Batik quilt used as a table cover. | Source

Quilting With Batiks

What is Batik?

Batik is an artfully decorated cloth that is created by using wax and dye. The word batik is normally used for both to cloth, and the process of creating the cloth.

Wax is generally applied by using a wax pen or patterned stamps, and the cotton or silk fabric is dyed. The dye will resist (not color) the parts of the fabric that have wax on them, resulting in patterns in the fabric. The process can be used for several layers of color, and then the wax is then melted off, leaving a soft beautiful piece of art.

Batik fabrics can have a variety of designs and colors. The 17 minute video below shows the step by step process of making batik fabric. Although the process is simple and can be done by school children, the video shows the complicated art of making a complex design on cloth. You can mute the video if you don't care for the background music, since there is no voice narration. Words on the screen explain the process.

Because it is a labor intensive process, batiks tend to be more expensive than normally printed fabric.

The Batik Process

Wax resist dyeing is an ancient art form. According to Wikipedia, "Discoveries show it already existed in Egypt in the 4th century BCE, where it was used to wrap mummies; linen was soaked in wax, and scratched using a sharp tool."

The word batik is thought to originate from Javanese amba ('to write') and titik ('dot' or 'point'). The technique was perfected in island of Java in Indonesia, and the process is used in many parts of the world, including Egypt, Africa, China and India.

Batik Supplies from Amazon

Create Your Own Hand-Printed Cloth: Stamp, Screen & Stencil with Everyday Objects
Create Your Own Hand-Printed Cloth: Stamp, Screen & Stencil with Everyday Objects

This book teaches you how to make cloth using soy wax batik, but it also includes a variety of other techniques including paint, dye, gel, stamp, screen batik, rubbings and stencil. We are no longer limited to the fabrics we can buy in the store.


Make Your Own Batiks

Most quilters will choose to purchase batik fabric, but some do create their own batik pieces. Start with cotton or silk fabric that will easily absorb a dye and a high thread count so the design will remain intact throughout the process. A plain white fabric like muslin will work. Wash it to remove any sizing or chemicals, but do not use fabric softener which may hinder the absorption of the dye.

Dye the fabric with the background color, and wring thoroughly. Apply the melted wax with a pen, stamp, paintbrush, or stencil, and wait for it to dry. Then dye again. The second dye will not color the part that has the wax on it. Repeat the process as you wish.

Then, melt off the wax. For smaller pieces, place the fabric between two sheets of absorbable paper and iron. The paper can then absorb the wax and protect your ironing board. Carefully clean off your iron after using. For larger pieces, wash the fabric in very hot or boiling water.

Of course, anytime you are handling the hot wax, the hot iron or hot water, you want to be very careful to avoid burning yourself or others. You also will want to avoid getting dye on furniture, clothing and belongings. People who do these kinds of processes take extra precautions to cover things they want to protect, or do them outside or in a studio which can handle this kind of treatment.

There is a batik guild for people who make their own fabric. Contemporary batik uses a variety of modern techniques including stenciling and discharge dyeing, and uses the wax process on items besides cloth.

Batik Fabric Manufacturers

(click column header to sort results)
Fabric Collection  
Imported From  
Anthology Fabrics
Lunn Studios by Robert Kaufman
Artisan Batiks
Princess Mirah
Batik by Mirah
Wilmington Prints
Bavarian Batiks
Batik Textiles
Key West Contempo, Sedonia Serenade, Caribbean Calypso, Malibu Medley, Barcelona Rhapsody from 2012, and others from previous years
Benartex Batik
Basically Batik, Southwest Batik, Mystic Batik, Bali Basics, Elements II, DragonFly Garden
Blank Quilting
Sumatra Batiks
Andover Fabrics
Cantik Batiks
Choice Fabrics
Komo Batiks
Exclusively Quilters
Paradise Batiks
Fabrics that Care
Bella Batik
Hoffman Fabrics
Galaxy, Bali Pops, Handyed Bali Watercolors, Seasonal Bali Handpaints and Batiks, Mariposa Grove, Bali Woodprint Batiks, McKenna Ryan Signature Batiks
Indonesian Batiks
Island Batik
Batik Cotton
Moda Batiks
Laundry Basket Quilts - Over the Rainbow, Tidepool Batiks
Bavarian Batiks
Timeless Treasures
Tonga Batiks
In the Beginning Fabrics
FloraGraphix Batiks

How to Use Batik Fabric in Quilts

Batiks can be used in quilts just like any other fabric. They can make simple quilt patterns stunning. Let the fabric do the work. The complex designs in batik fabric blur some of the seam lines and create a watercolor look to quilts.

Although it is an ancient art form, they were not traditionally used in quilts. As a result, they add a modern feel to traditional quilt patterns.

The fabric does not stretch as much as plain cotton or silk, making it an ideal fabric for use by beginners who can afford the price of batiks.

Because they don't fray, batiks work wonderfully for raw edge appliqué. Simply press a two-sided fusible web, such as Steam-a-Seam2, to the fabric, cut out the shape, and apply to the background. The variety of shading in each piece of fabric allows them to make more interesting designs and realistic landscapes.

Since the fabric is so complex, it will not showcase complex quilting designs. A simple quilting pattern is all that is necessary to complete a batik quilt. They are also more difficult but not impossible to hand quilt, so machine quilting is recommended.

Batik quilt in warm colors
Batik quilt in warm colors | Source
This quilt combines traditional and batik fabrics.
This quilt combines traditional and batik fabrics. | Source

Combining Batiks with Other Fabrics

Some quilters refuse to combine batik fabric with other fabric. I combine them all the time. Since they have already been washed and shrunk, it is best to pre-wash all the fabric to keep them from shrinking at a disproportionate rate.

Combining fabric saves money, since the relatively cheaper traditional fabric can be used as a background, and the more expensive batik fabric can be used as the focus fabric. In addition, combining them provides more choices of combinations and more variety. I am more likely to find the right fabric to add to my quilt when I don't limit myself to a particular type of fabric. I feel that the combinations create more complex and beautiful quilts.

Examples of Batik Quilts

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Batik art quilt called Turning over a new leaf Batik quilt named Squishy Fishy QuiltThis quilt made with batik and fabric paint was created by 1st and 2nd grade schoolchildren.Batik strip quilt in cool colorsThis unfinished quilt uses a combination of batik fabrics with a solid white fabric.
Batik art quilt called Turning over a new leaf
Batik art quilt called Turning over a new leaf | Source
Batik quilt named Squishy Fishy Quilt
Batik quilt named Squishy Fishy Quilt | Source
This quilt made with batik and fabric paint was created by 1st and 2nd grade schoolchildren.
This quilt made with batik and fabric paint was created by 1st and 2nd grade schoolchildren. | Source
Batik strip quilt in cool colors
Batik strip quilt in cool colors | Source
This unfinished quilt uses a combination of batik fabrics with a solid white fabric.
This unfinished quilt uses a combination of batik fabrics with a solid white fabric. | Source
Fat quarters of batik fabric.
Fat quarters of batik fabric. | Source

Washing Batik Fabrics

Since batiks have been washed several times through the batiking process, they do not need to be washed to avoid shrinking. However, some batiks may bleed, especially the first time it is washed, so pre-washing is recommended. I have used batiks without prewashing, specifically Bali pops which are cut into small strips, and have not had any bleeding issues. Since they have a variety of shadings, I don't think bleeding would be very obvious, unless you were using red fabrics or bright fabrics with light fabrics. Cotton batiks can be washed as you would normally wash any other quilting fabric in the washing machine and dried in the dryer.

Batik Quilts

The strong colors in batiks and the complex patterns and designs add richness to a quilt, and can make even the simplest of quilts more interesting. They can be used in any quilt in place of traditional printed fabric, and make lively additions particularly to art quilts.

Comments: "What are Batiks? What is a Batik Quilt?"

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    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      7 years ago from USA

      Rajan, that would be wonderful to live somewhere where batiks were available everywhere. I bet they are a lot cheaper there than they are here in the US.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      We have a lot of batik work being done here. Batik bedsheets, quilts, curtains, wall paintings etc are widely available here. It was nice learning about the process of making batiks.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      7 years ago from USA

      Thanks Dolores. I enjoy batiks in landscapes also. The shadings make them more realistic than solids or patterned fabric.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      7 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Voted up and awesome! I love batik fabrics and using them in quilts is a great idea. The pictures are beautiful, especially the one at the top. I particularly love batiks when used in landscape quilts.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      7 years ago from USA

      Thanks Aurelio, that's true, the method of making them will certainly affect the price. Thank you for pointing that out.

      Thank you Vespawoolf, I didn't make the autumn leaves quilt, but I agree that it is quite beautiful. Making your own fabric helps you be more involved in the process and lets you make fabric that exactly meets your needs.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      Vespa Woolf 

      7 years ago from Peru, South America

      I've never seen a quilt of batiks. They're quite beautiful! I love your autumn leaves quilt with the fall colors. I have to agree, they're really special. I'm sure the imported fabrics are gorgeous, but how nice to be able to make your own. Very interesting! Voted up and shared.

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      7 years ago from Orange County, CA

      My partner and I buy a selection of batiks whenever we're in Malaysia and they're quite beautiful. You also have to make the distinction between machine-made batiks and the hand-made ones, which of course, are more expensive. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      7 years ago from USA

      Thanks GTF, that's true they are harder to hand quilt. I will include that fact in the hub, thanks!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      7 years ago

      Voted up and beautiful millionaire. I love my batiks and making pieces with their incredible colors. I do find they are harder to hand quilt throgh, but they really are glorious. Great hub!

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      7 years ago from USA

      Thanks myawn, I really enjoy the coloration of batiks as well.

      Thanks Dianna. I've thought of several other quilt posts to write as I was creating this one. There is more to come!

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      7 years ago from USA

      Thanks carol7777, thanks. Batiks make beautiful quilts, but they also work wonderfully in anything else - pillowcases, clothes, bags, whatever you can think of.

      Thanks randomcreative, they are a beautiful component to quilts. When I read that, I visualized a batik quilt with lots of beads and other embellishments.

      Thanks midget38. How wonderful it must be to live in an area that creates batiks. I can just imagine all the gorgeous designs you see regularly.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      7 years ago from USA

      Thanks hawaiianodysseus. There are so many beautiful quilts made out of batiks that I had a hard time limiting myself to these!

      Thanks kschimmel. I see a new batik dress in your future.

      Thanks moonlake. I am sure your friend's quilts are gorgeous with the batiks.

    • Millionaire Tips profile imageAUTHOR

      Shasta Matova 

      7 years ago from USA

      Thanks cdmwriter, batiks make such lovely quilts. Most of my stash isn't batiks, but I try to work on whatever project I'm in the mood for, so I can get maximum enjoyment out of it.

      Thanks ChitrangadaSharan, I am sure that your batik art is beautiful indeed. They do make beautiful clothes and sarees. I found some Youtube videos about batikmaking in India when I was doing research for this hub and the results were beautiful indeed.

      Thanks gingerka. I am happy to know there are so many sewing fanatics on the site.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      7 years ago

      Love your quilting ideas. Always enjoy looking in on your posts -- delightful read.

    • myawn profile image


      7 years ago from Florida

      Batiks are a nice colorful fabric I like them very much Nice hub interesting.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      I love Batiks like our friends here too!! Especially since I come from an area that creates a lot of them. Thanks for the description nd evaluation of the batik craft, and am passing it on!

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      7 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      What a great topic for an article! I love batiks. They are such a beautiful fabric component for quilts.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      7 years ago from Arizona

      Though I don't quilt I always admire batiks... You have some lovely photos here. And a most interesting topic..Always enjoy learning new things. Voted UP.++

    • moonlake profile image


      7 years ago from America

      Batiks are beautiful. My friend likes them and makes lots of her quilts out of them. Voted up

    • kschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel 

      7 years ago from North Carolina, USA

      I love batik prints. I once had a batik dress that I wore till it was unwearable. I should replace it by making a new batik dress for spring, I think.

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 

      7 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Great hub with wonderful, complementary pictures! Voted up and more!

    • gingerka profile image


      7 years ago from Colorado

      I love fabric, especially batiks. Thank you for all the great information that is very interesting to an avid sewing fanatic!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      7 years ago from New Delhi, India

      A very nice hub to make people familiar with Batik art. I was drawn to your hub, because I myself do Batik art. And I must say, you have done a wonderful job.

      Batik art is very popular art form in India and is used in dress materials, sarees etc.

      Thanks for sharing a nicely explained and illustrated hub.

    • cdmwriter profile image


      7 years ago

      Batiks are my favorite fabrics to quilt with. I'm trying to clean up my sewing room by using up the rest of my stash so I can get back to my batiks with a clear conscience.


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