If you’re a sewer, you likely already know what batik fabric is, but do you also know what it’s used for? If you’ve ever wondered, what is batik fabric used for, the answer is quite simple because this fabric is truly a versatile type of fabric that can be used in multiple articles of clothing, quilts, and so much more.
If you’ve ever asked yourself, what is batik fabric used for, you might be surprised by the answer. In addition to quilts, batik fabric can be used for everything from scarves to home furnishings and even clothing and handicrafts.
What Is Batik Fabric?
Before answering the question, what is batik fabric used for, we need to first answer the question, what exactly is batik fabric? It has a very interesting tradition for sure.
Essentially, batik fabric is a dyed fabric that originated in Southeast Asia; more specifically, in Java in Indonesia. It is so common and important to the Indonesians, in fact, that it is worn in many rituals and celebrations. Batik fabric is intricately designed and is available in dozens of beautiful colors, and it is designed using both foreign and native cultural traditions.
One of the things that really stands out about batik fabric is that the process to make it is a very tedious one. After it is dyed, hot wax is applied to certain areas of the fabric, then the cloth is dyed using only natural dyes. These steps are repeated until the cloth has the look that the designer intended it to have.
All batik fabric designs start the same way, with the designer drawing lines or dots, and once the wax is applied, those sections will resist the dye and therefore turn out a different color. Batik fabric also has a mottled or “cracked” look, making it very unique in terms of both the designs used and the texture of the fabric itself.
After the fabric has the look that the designer wants it to have, solvents are used to remove the wax that is on it – usually through boiling the fabric. Once it’s dried, it is ready to use, and it indeed has a number of uses.
What Is Batik Fabric Used for?
Batik fabric is frequently used in quilting, where its many designs lend a lot of ambiance to the quilt once it’s finished. Typically, batik fabrics have designs on them such as mystic creatures, motifs, animals, or some type of flowering plant. They are also usually made in colors that include light yellow, brown, and blue.
That being said, you’ll find batik fabric in other colors as well, making it a great material for scarves and ready-to-wear clothing of all types. Today, more contemporary fabrics can have tribal motifs or even abstract designs, giving you even more options for using the fabric creatively.
Other designs you might see on batik fabric include:
- Floral bouquets
As you can see, the variety of designs means the number of items you can make with this fabric makes this a very exciting art form when you’re interested in making quilts, articles of clothing, scarves, and so much more.
Batik fabric is also used for sarongs, which are dresses made with one piece of fabric that is essentially wrapped around the body. You’ll find the fabric used for shirts, blouses, and dresses as well, and they can be either casual or formal clothing pieces.
Batik fabric usually comes in two basic types – 100% cotton or 100% rayon. Much of it has to be hand-washed or washed on a gentle cycle, and it is usually recommended that you air-dry it because it is so delicate.
How to Work with Batik Fabric
If you’re going to make something out of batik fabric, you’ll find that working with it is a little different than working with other types of fabric, including other rayon and cotton fabric. When you first get your fabric, you’ll want to wash it a few times so that the excess dye is removed. This can include either hand-washing or washing on a delicate cycle.
Batik fabric is often stiffer than other types of fabric. Why? Because to withstand the dyeing process, it has to have a thread count that is denser than most other types of fabric. It may also be weaved much tighter.
It is a little stiffer than other fabrics, so batik fabric is great for appliques. It also frays a lot less than many other fabrics do, which is one of the upsides to this characteristic.
Yet another thing that many sewers notice about batik fabric is the difficulty of choosing which side of the fabric is the “right” side and which one isn’t. If you are uncertain about the fabric you’ve chosen, just remember that the side with less blurriness on the edge should be used as the “right” side.
Finally, using a needle that is very sharp (such as a 70/10 needle) is important when using batik fabric. This is because the design and dyeing process can affect the texture of the fabric and make it difficult to work with when you have a dull needle.
Now that we’ve answered the question, what is batik fabric used for, there are a few other things to consider when you’ve chosen this type of fabric for your next sewing project. When you start your project with batik fabric, here are some things to remember:
- In addition to a sharp needle, you should choose thread that is finer, such as 50- or 60-weight thread.
- When you’re using batik fabric with other types of fabric, you may have to pre-wash the other fabric first. While it’s suggested that you pre-wash batik fabric to remove excess dye, you won’t be doing it to shrink the fabric because batik doesn’t shrink a whole lot.
- Batik fabric is versatile. Always pay attention to the print when you lay the pattern. Do this to make the most out of the style of the fabric. For instance, if you cut in different spots on a piece of batik fabric, you’ll get many different looks in the end.
It shouldn’t take you long to learn to work with this type of fabric. It is just like other fabrics in many ways, meaning you have to get used to the things that make it a little different.
While batik fabric involves a very intense design and dye process, the result is beautiful fabric that is indeed very versatile. No need to wonder, what is batik fabric used for, because there are few things that type of fabric cannot be used for.
Of course, it isn’t just the design process that makes this fabric unique, or the versatility. It is also the unique texture and the gorgeous designs and colors used when making the fabric. This is also not a type of fabric that is mass-produced and looks just like the fabric next to it.
If you want to celebrate cultures and you have a unique flair for fashion but prefer unique one-of-a-kind designs, batik fabric will never disappoint. It is a fabric that is easy to work with once you learn a few tricks, and you can easily make items out of it that no one else will likely own.