Friday DIY: Learn Batik


Whether in your hair, on your nails or on clothing: Batik – or “dip dye” – is back big time. Anything goes in the anarchical word of Batik. Today Amelie from explains the principles behind batik and how to achieve stunning batik effects. Batik involves applying a wax technique and is therefore referred to as “Shibori” in some fields. Whether you use wax or a tying technique – We hope you enjoy this ancient art form.


The home of batik is Asia – the island of Java to be precise. It’s estimated to have been around since 1000 AD. The term “batik” is derived from the Javanese word “amatik” which means to draw, paint or write.

Batik techniques from Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka are particularly popular. Compared to the early days, advancements in technology have made the production process far easier and a lot more efficient. Batik is not, as you might think, fabric painting. The artful process of dyeing fabric is an ancient technique with a long tradition, and a batik garment is considered to be a true treasure by the Javanese.

Batik was brought to Europe by Dutch merchants at end of the 19th century in the form of garments. However, it wasn’t until the 1970’s that batik peaked in popularity when it became the garb of choice for peace-loving hippies. Today batik is back and the art of “blending colours” is experiencing a welcome renaissance.

You will need:

  • Various buckets (one for each colour plus one for clean water)
  • Light coloured fabric
  • Batik dye
  • Boiling water
  • Salt and vinegar
  • String or wax (for wax batik)
  • An old wooden spoon (for stirring)




Fabric dye can be bought in a multitude of colours for only a few euros. Don‘t limit yourselves to just dyeing t-shirts or tops – try batiking pants, cloth bags, towels, bedding or whatever else takes your fancy. The only thing to keep in mind is the material; ordinary fabric dye doesn‘t take to synthetic fibres, so make sure your material is either cotton, linen or silk.


Instructions on how to mix the dye are normally written on the back of the packet. Basically, all you have to do is boil several litres of water, add one tablespoon of salt per litre of water and then the packet of dye. Stir the mixture until the dye is completely dissolved; otherwise, the dye won’t take properly to your material.


For different effects, you can either tie the fabric with string or drizzle with wax before hanging the material in a bucket of dye. It‘s really important to tie and knot your material firmly to prevent any dye from coming into contact with areas you don’t want dyed. A nice technique is to hang your garment from above in one colour and then from below into a different colour. The colours can either meet in the middle or tie the fabric in the middle to keep them separated.


My favourite effect, however, is colour gradient. Dip the fabric quickly in the lightest colour, remove and then leave to rest for a few minutes. Re-dip the fabric so it takes on a bit more dye. The more you repeat this process, the smoother the gradient. You can repeat this process with a slightly darker or more vivid colour, or even add a third colour.


My colour suggestions are pink-violet-turquoise, pretty shades of a colour family or, of course, a single colour look. The hotter the water and the longer you leave the fabric in the dye, the more intense the colour will become. For a really stunning result, I recommend leaving the fabric for a half up to a full hour in the dye, always pouring some more boiling water into the bucket. So you don‘t end up with a watery soup, reduce the amount of water you start with.


To prevent the colours from blending while dyeing, you should rinse the fabric well after each colouring with clean water. When creating colour gradients, it‘s enough to just wring out the fabric well, as a light mixture of colours is what we’re after.


When you‘ve finished tie-dyeing your fabric, repeatedly rinse the fabric in clean water until no more colour washes out. The final step is to fix the colour by placing the batik in a bucket of cold water and vinegar. Your batik can either be hung out to dry or put (no hotter than 30 °) in the washing machine. Washing is really only necessary if you use so much vinegar that your batik smells of it.

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Post from Catherine

write at 17.05.2013 - 11:46.

About Catherine

Catherine responds to all your queries, no matter how strange. She comes from Ireland and enjoys making homemade giftcards and drinking tea. » more from Catherine