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Making Batik Fabric

Learn how to create batik fabric from scratch.

Here’s a wonderful opportunity to create your own batik fabric on a small scale. I’ll lead you through the process—just read all the way through to be sure you have the necessary supplies before you start.

Materials and Tools:

fat quarters of cotton muslin, prepared for dyeing (PFD)
*other fabrics - assorted hand dyed fabric, solid color commercial fabric, Bali hand painted fabric—even a fabric you don’t really like anymore.
resist solution – several brands are available, including Presist and Inkodye. Be sure not to use "silk resist", which is formulated for use on thinner fabric.
Procion dyes in your choice of colors
soda ash or dye activator
dye thickener
measuring cup and spoons - not ever to be used for food again
small containers for mixing dyes - disposable containers are great.
wood block, foam stamp, rubber stamp, oven coil, something to use to get the resist pattern you want to put on your fabric
foam paintbrushes
plastic to protect your work surface - An inexpensive flannel backed vinyl tablecloth offers great protection and is reusable.
apron and protective gloves for your hands – disposable ones are fine
sheet of plastic or large trash bags

* Prewash fabrics to remove any sizing or fabric finish that may affect the dye’s ability to form a permanent bond with the fabric.

Important - Read all the safety information on your dye products. Arrange a workspace away from food preparation areas, where the fabric can remain undisturbed for at least 24 hours. Protect your work surface with plastic.

Applying the Design

1. Using the foam brush, apply the resist to the item you are using (stamp, oven coil, etc). Repeat to create a design in regular or irregular patterns.

2. Allow the resist to dry completely. Depending on humidity and temperature, this may take two to three hours. Be sure the solution is completely dry before proceeding.

Adding Fabric Dyes

Immediately prior to use, prepare your dye solution for painting on the color—this quantity is more than adequate for 1/2 yard of fabric. Adjust the quantities as needed for your project.

1. With gloves on, in a non-food area, dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of soda ash in a small amount of very warm water.

2. Add 1/2 teaspoon of dye powder and stir gently to dissolve the powder. Keep the total volume of solution at less than 1/2 cup. Add more or less dye powder to create lighter or darker value fabrics.

3. Add four to five tablespoons of dye thickener and stir gently until completely mixed.

4. Brush this solution all over the fabric.

5. Optional: Gently blot the resisted areas, using a paper towel, to remove any excess dye solution. Remember, the resist is water soluble, so if it is exposed to excessive moisture for a long period of time, it will start to break down and allow the dye to saturate your fabric under the resist.

6. Cover the fabric with plastic, and keep it warm (70 degrees) for at least 24 hours to let the dye "cure" and bond with the fabric. Longer is fine, shorter is not.

7. After the curing period, with gloves on, carefully move the fabric to a sink or bucket filled with warm water. Gently swish the fabric around to rinse out the excess dye. Because the resist is water soluble, it is also being rinsed out during this step. You might need to change the water a couple of times until the rinse water is fairly clear.

8. After several rinses, wash the fabric with Synthrapol, following the manufacturer’s instructions, until the rinse water is clear.

9. Let your fabric air-dry. Iron it dry if you are in a hurry. Your new fabric is now ready to cut and sew in to your quilt.

Note: If you have leftover dye solution after painting your fabrics, don’t waste it. Put some (a half-yard is usually a good amount) muslin or an old fabric you don’t like anymore into a plastic re-sealable bag. Pour the leftover dye solution into the bag. Seal the top and massage the fabric until it is completely saturated with dye solution. You can add a little warm water if you need more moisture. Leave this fabric in the bag for 24 hours and follow steps 8-9 above. You now have another unique fabric that will compliment your personal batik collection.

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