Pop Quiz: What ancient art form’s popularity rose on Pinterest 400 percent in the past year?!
Answer: Batik! Pinterest broke the news on the resurgence of the centuries old art — “It’s like watercolors for your clothes!” — over the summer. But that hardly means that there isn’t room for Batik in your fall – winter wardrobe or your home decor, right now. Plus, the technique — which uses hot wax and dyes — to produce the beautiful painterly designs makes for a super fun and easy (just follow the steps below!) DIY project.
If you want to get inspired, UNICEF Market has an extensive collection of batik from Indonesia, featuring such home decor items as pillows and bedding as well as robes, sarongs and wraps that are great for lounging or midwinter resort getaways. To see how it’s done, watch this video of Batik designer Desak Nyoman Parwati as she Batiks fabric she uses to create one of her top-selling hand-sewn robes.
Today, you can buy handmade batik items from around the world, or you can try making your own with just a few tools:
- Fabric (Natural materials work best, and cotton is the easiest to use. If you’re up for the challenge, silk is also a good option.)
- Double boiler
- Beeswax or paraffin wax
- Paintbrush (or multiple brushes of different sizes)
- Rubber gloves
- Plastic basin/bucket
- Fabric dye
- Paper towels
- Optional: stencils (If you don’t want to freehand your design, you can use household items as stencils; potato mashers, children’s blocks, lace doilies, fishnet tights, and pieces of screen all work great.)
DIY Batik Fabric Preparations
Before you take on an ambitious batik project, it’s a good idea to try out the process on a small piece of test fabric.
- Pre-wash the fabric using hot water and laundry detergent. Dry it in the dryer or hang it to dry.
- Lay out the fabric on a large flat surface, and draw your design on the fabric with a pencil (you can also use stencils to create the design). Remember, it can be literally anything you want, from a landscape or still life scene to an intricate repeated pattern. You can skip this step if you’re confident in your painting skills!
- Melt the wax in a double boiler, and keep it over the heat so it stays melted.
- Use the paintbrush to “paint” the wax over your penciled design. Once you’re finished, let the wax harden completely.
- Wearing rubber gloves, follow the instructions on the package to mix the dye in a bucket or basin. Let it cool.
- Submerge the fabric in the dye, and let it sit. The longer it sits, the darker the color will be.
- Using the bucket, rinse the fabric several times in lukewarm water.
- Hang up the fabric, and let it dry completely.
- Cover a large flat surface with paper towels, and lay out the fabric on top of them. Use more paper towels to completely cover the fabric.
- Iron (without steam) the paper towels and fabric. This will melt the wax, which will absorb into the paper towels, removing it from the fabric.
How Do You Sew Using Batik Fabrics?
Now that you have some colorful fabric with a unique design, you can use it to make everything from napkins, wall hangings, bags, or clothes. Follow these tips for sewing with batik to get the best results:
- Before you try to cut your batik, lay it out on a large, flat surface.
- When cutting your batik, consider the design of the fabric with each cut you make. For repetitive designs, you might want to make sure that each piece contains one full pattern instead of two partial ones. For batik with a larger design motif, make sure the focal point of the design is centered on the main piece of fabric.
- Use very sharp fabric scissors to cut the batik.
- Choose a sewing machine needle with a fine, sharp point.
- Sew with light- to medium-weight silk, cotton, or polyester thread.
DIY Batik Robe Resources
Batik is commonly used to make robes, which are easy to sew because the patterns are forgiving, and they also make great gifts.
This extensive guide applies to dresses, robes, and other items. Read more about the benefits of making your own clothes, and you can’t help but be inspired to try.
Use your batik to make this kimono-style robe. It works equally well as a bathrobe at home, a cover-up on the beach, or even over a tank top for everyday wear.
You don’t need a robe pattern to make your own robe. This tutorial shows you exactly how to make a robe using any T-shirt pattern you already own.
Actually, you can make a robe without using any pattern at all, and this tutorial explains how.
Still not seeing anything that strikes you? This round-up has over 25 more robe designs for women and children.