Shopping For Fun

Brilliant Batiks: A Beginning Sewers Guide To Understanding Batiks And How To Use Them

by Brittany Washington

As a beginning sewer, you already know that shopping for fabrics can easily be described as the most exciting part of any sewing project. One of the most intriguing parts of any fabric store, whether local or online, is the section that showcases the colorful display of batik fabrics. Since you will want to add several of these beautiful fabrics to your fabric collection, you should know how to work with them and how to protect their vibrant hues.

Basics about Batiks

The gorgeous and brilliant colors that make batiks stand out from other fabrics is made possible by the unique dying process they undergo. Batiks are designed by wax being applied to certain parts of the fabric before it's dyed. The wax keeps the dye from penetrating specific areas of the fabric and is removed once the dying process is complete.

Unlike most fabrics, the front and back side of batik fabrics often appears similar with only minor differences in the mottled or swirled designs. Since the color is so rich and vibrant on both sides, due to the dying process, you can choose the side you like best for your project.

The rich colors of Batik fabrics make them more susceptible to fading. Always store Batik fabrics away from direct sunlight. Prewash in cold water before sewing your projects and avoid hanging finished projects in direct sunlight to dry after laundering to protect their beautiful colors.

Read the label on the fabric bolt when purchasing batiks. Some batiks may require hand washing and drying flat, but most can be machine washed and dried. Always follow the manufacturers recommendations for laundering for best results.

Sewing with Batiks

The tight weave in batik fabrics means you will need to use a finer and sharper needle than you would use for other fabrics. This will allow the needle to penetrate the fabric well without leaving holes. You should also use a finer thread.

Batiks do not fray easily, which makes them a great choice when doing appliques in clothing or quilting. However, since the dying process means batiks are preshrunk, you should always prewash other fabrics you are using along with batiks. This will prevent unsightly puckering or stretching when combining fabrics.

The beauty of batiks makes them a favorite among seamstresses and quilters. Whether you are making a simple tote bag, an heirloom quilt, or a sundress, understanding batiks and how to use them will open up a world of new possibilities for beginning sewers. For more information, contact companies like The Quilt Jeannie.