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Batik Butterfly Pillow

Stitch and decorate a pillow with these step-by-step instructions.

Project by Carolann Tebbetts

Feeling creative? Here’s a project for making an artsy batik and bead pillow that will add a funky splash of color to a room.

Materials and Tools:

paper pattern
soda ash fixative
#2H pencil
staple gun and staples
four 9-by-12-inch stretcher bars or an old picture
100 percent cotton sheeting, organdy, muslin or similar lightweight woven cotton fabric
beeswax/paraffin mix (sold as batik wax or 50/50 mix)
small slow cooker for melting wax (do not use for cooking)
old bristle brushes for waxing
small and medium tjanting wax tools
cold-water dye in various colors
white plastic watercolor palette
watercolor brushes in various sizes
old steam iron
18-by-24-inch newspapers and clear newsprint
backing material to coordinate with batik design
fiberfill
beading thread
beading needle
embroidery needle
size-11 seed beads in various colors for tassels
size-6 or size-8 seed beads for border
4 large focal beads
various accent beads and charms
organza ribbon
organza wedding-favor pouch
potpourri

Batik Steps:

1. Choose an image with clear contour lines like a stained glass pattern or flash/tattoo art. Make sure there are no areas smaller than a raisin as the areas will be too small to wax. Copy or draw the image on white paper to the exact size of the 9" x 12" pillow.

2. Transfer the design to the cotton fabric by taping the drawing to a sunny window or a light box. Tape the fabric over the drawing and trace lightly with a pencil.

3. Stretch the fabric over the assembled stretcher bars or picture frame. Staple in place.

4. Cover the work surface with newspaper. Melt the wax in a slow cooker set on low. One pound of wax will take about two hours to melt.

5. Place the stretched fabric on the newspaper close to the wax pot. Holding the tjanting in one hand, dip into the melted wax. Initially the tjanting must be in the wax for 30 seconds to melt any solidified wax and to heat up the well. Hold the tjanting tilted up to prevent drips. Hold it over a paper towel in the other hand if drips are a problem. Place the tjanting’s tip on a drawn contour line, and without hesitating, draw the line until the well runs dry or the wax comes out translucent instead of transparent. The wax is then to cool to penetrate the fibers. Return the tjanting to the pot and refill the well. Repeat the process until all the contour lines are waxed.

Note: Make sure the wax is penetrating the fiber. The cloth will look darker and the wax will come through the other side. If it is not penetrating, the dye will bleed through the contour line into other sections. Remove wax that has not penetrated and re-wax those areas. Remove by picking off with your fingernail, or draw another line of wax alongside the line that did not penetrate.

6. Mix dye according to manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure to add the required fixative.

7. Fill the wells of a watercolor palette with the dyes to be used in the design. Fill in the spaces with desired colors with a watercolor brush. Work from the interior of the space out to the edges. If a wax contour is not fully sealed, the dye will bleed through slowly instead of soaking completely into the next space. If you discover a problem, stop that section and continue with another. Once the fabric dries, use more wax to seal the leak.

8. Once you’ve filled in all areas, let the dye dry completely.

9. Apply more wax to areas that you want to remain the current color. Apply more dye to deepen or change the color in the unwaxed areas.

10. Repeat steps 8 and 9 until the desired color and detail have been achieved.

Keep in mind:

  • Colors dry lighter than they appear when wet.
  • Multiple coats of dye will produce more vibrant or darker colors.
  • Colors can be mixed on the fabric for interesting effects. Test on scrap fabric for color and technique. Wet on wet will fully blend; wet onto dry will blend less and will leave a water line or stain at the intersection.


11. Cover the entire surface with a coat of wax using a bristle brush. This will ensure that the fabric is of a consistent texture. Remove the fabric from the stretchers.

12. Cover the ironing board with several sheets of newspaper and then at least two pieces of unprinted newsprint paper. Sandwich the waxed fabric under another sheet of newsprint.

13. Using an old iron set on “cotton,” iron over the fabric and the paper. Change the paper above and below the fabric as it becomes saturated with wax. Repeat until no more wax melts onto the paper.

14. Crop the work to the desired dimensions, allowing a quarter-inch for the seam.

Pillow Steps:

1. Cut fabric into two pieces, one 9-1/2" x 8-1/2" and the other 9-1/2" x 6-1/2".

2. Using a sewing machine and matching thread, finish one 9½-inch raw edge on each of the two backing pieces.

3. Place the batik face up on a table. Place the two backing pieces, face down, over the batik. Line up all edges to create a 2-inch overlap in the center of the pillow.

4. Pin together and sew all four sides.

5. Turn right sides out. Stuff with fiberfill, making sure to force stuffing into all four corners.

6. Tie a knot at one end of a 12-inch piece of organza ribbon. Using an embroidery needle, thread the ribbon through the backing fabric 3 inches down from the top of the pillow to the left of the opening in the back. Repeat to the left and 3 inches up from the bottom of the pillow. Add beads to the ribbons and tie knots on the ends to secure the beads.

7. String additional beads or charms onto another ribbon. At the midpoint of this ribbon, sew to the organza favor bag. Tie a decorative bow.

8. Fill the organza favor bag with a small amount of potpourri. Place the bag inside the pillow. Tie the ribbons together to close the back of the pillow.

Beading-Tassels Steps:

1. String a yard of beading thread onto a beading needle. Tie a knot at the end, leaving a tail of about 3 inches.

2. Pull the needle through the pillow fabric at one corner. String on the focal bead and then the desired number of seed beads (about 15 to 25). String on an accent bead or charm.

3. Weave the needle back through all the seed beads and the focal bead.

4. Bring the needle back through the corner of the pillow and pull tight to anchor the strand of beads. Hint: Hold the accent bead while pulling the thread.

5. Repeat steps 2 through 5, completing the desired number of strands.

6. Tie a finishing knot, and then bring the needle and thread halfway through one strand of beads. Bring the needle out of the strand and cut the thread.

7. Thread the original tail through the needle. Thread this through another strand of beads in the tassel and cut off to hide all the loose ends of the thread for a finished look.

Beaded-Embroidery Steps:

1. Choose beads to accent specific areas of the batik design. Thread a one-yard length of beading thread through a beading needle. Tie a knot at the end.

2. Single beads can be attached using the single stitch as follows:
A) Insert the needle into the pillow at the side seam closest to where you want the beads.
B) Make sure the knot is locked inside the pillow.
C) Bring the needle up where you want the first bead.
D) String on the bead.
E) Inset the needle back into the pillow and then to the next bead location.
F) Repeat this step until all single beads are attached.
G) Tie a finishing knot near the last bead, and then bring the needle back to the side seam and out.

3. Multiple beads that are graduated in size can be attached using the stacked single stitch. Follow the directions for step 2, except string on multiple beads (the largest bead first). Go back through all beads except for the last one strung on. Go back into the pillow and to the next location.

4. Larger beads can be couched or surrounded by a circle of seed beads. Sew on a large bead using a single stitch. Bring the needle up near the large bead and string on enough seed beads to surround the large bead. Bring the needle back into the pillow next to the first stitch. Come up on the opposite side of the large bead. Pull tight to close the circle. Bring the needle through one seed bead and back into the fabric to the next location.

5. Attach a border of seed beads around the perimeter to hide the seams. The border is attached using a backstitch. Thread a long length of beading thread or wire onto a beading needle and knot.

6. Go through the pillow at one seam near a tassel. String on six seed beads. Go into the fabric directly at the end of the line of six beads. Direct the needle back toward the line of beads. Come up between beads 3 and 4. Put the needle through the beads 4, 5, and 6. String on six more beads and repeat until you reach the corner.

7. Tie a finishing knot and bring the tail back into the line of beads. Cut excess thread.

8. Repeat for all four sides.

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