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How to Use Batiks in Quilts

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

Batik quilt in warm colors

Batik quilt in warm colors

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, batiks 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-Seam 2, 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.
  • Batiks are also more difficult but not impossible to hand quilt, so machine quilting is recommended.
Batik quilt used as a table cover

Batik quilt used as a table cover

Can You Combine Batiks With Other Fabrics?

Some quilters refuse to combine batik fabric with other fabric, but I combine them all the time. It is best to pre-wash all the fabric to keep it 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.

This quilt combines traditional and batik fabrics.

This quilt combines traditional and batik fabrics.

Washing Batik Fabrics

Since batiks have been washed several times during the batiking process, they do not need to be washed to avoid shrinking. However, some batiks may bleed, especially the first time they are 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.

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 the 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 wax will "resist" (prevent dye from adhering to) 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.

Batik's Origins and Etymology

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 on the island of Java in Indonesia, and the process is used in many parts of the world, including Egypt, Africa, China and India.

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 use. For larger pieces, wash the fabric in very hot or boiling water.

Of course, anytime you are handling hot wax, a 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 that can handle this kind of treatment.

Here are instructions for making your own batik 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

ManufacturerFabric CollectionImported 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

Fat quarters of batik fabric

Fat quarters of batik fabric

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 for lively additions, particularly to art quilts.

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

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on December 09, 2012:

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 Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on December 08, 2012:

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.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on December 08, 2012:

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

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on December 05, 2012:

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.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on December 04, 2012:

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.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on December 03, 2012:

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.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on December 02, 2012:

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.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on December 01, 2012:

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

Claudia Porter on December 01, 2012:

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!

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on November 29, 2012:

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!

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on November 29, 2012:

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.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on November 29, 2012:

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.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on November 29, 2012:

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.

Dianna Mendez on November 28, 2012:

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

myawn from Florida on November 28, 2012:

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

Michelle Liew from Singapore on November 28, 2012:

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!

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 28, 2012:

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

carol stanley from Arizona on November 28, 2012:

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 from America on November 27, 2012:

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

Kimberly Schimmel from North Carolina, USA on November 27, 2012:

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.

Hawaiian Odysseus from Southeast Washington state on November 27, 2012:

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

gingerka from Colorado on November 27, 2012:

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

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on November 27, 2012:

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 on November 27, 2012:

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.