Cotton — Batik Production

Do you use batiks in your quilts? Their beautifully illuminated colors and organic designs work well for many quilt patterns. The firm, smooth texture makes applique easy with little fraying. Their potential for bleeding in the wash scares me a bit, though, and I don’t use them a lot.

But they do work well in some projects. When I use them, I mix them with solids, traditional florals and geometrics, and more contemporary prints. For me, batiks are just one more way to obtain the colors I want.

Below are two different videos. One is a short video by Hoffman showcasing the creation of batiks in Bali. The other is about Moda batiks and takes about 17 minutes. I do not know if it is officially a Moda video. It shows the process in Indonesia. Neither video includes narration, so if you don’t like the music, you can mute the sound.

Both videos show how incredibly labor intensive batiks are, with multiple hand applications of dyes and resists. If you have time, you may find both very interesting. I won’t make any claims about the safety of conditions for workers, but it did give me pause.

[The second video no long is available, as of this March 20, 2018 update.]

If you’d like to read my posts on quilting as a business, you can find them here:

Cotton — Where Does Your Fabric Come From?
Cotton — What Happens After Harvest?
Cotton — Weaving Fabric
Cotton — Batik Production
Cotton — Printing Designs

Quilting for Pay — The Longarm
Conversations with Artists
Price vs. Value of a Quilt, Part 1
Price vs. Value of a Quilt, Part 2
You Should Write Patterns
“It Feels Weird Asking for Pay”
Pay for Quilters (And other Crafters and Artists)
You Should Sell Those: A Play in Three Short Scenes, With Commentary


8 thoughts on “Cotton — Batik Production

  1. Bluebird Annie

    Batik! A friend brought me some from Malaysia …. decades ago ….. in my youth when I still spent time sewing. I made a blouse from it which made my Malaysian friend happy. A few years later I wore that batik blouse to work at a new job where a Filipino co-worker instantly recognized the fabric as being one she did not expect to see me wearing in suburban Chicago. It made her smile. Her eyes brightened up learning how I came to have the fabric.

    It’s interesting that something as mundane as a piece of fabric has the power to join people through a common love and appreciation for the touch, the color, the design, the meaning, and the use of it.

  2. snarkyquilter

    I do love batiks, especially for paper piecing, as both sides are the same. No problems with cutting a piece the wrong way. I’ve never had a bleeding problem with the Indonesian batiks. But I always prewash my fabric. There are batiks made in India that seem to be a lower quality of fabric. Or at least it’s thicker with less crisp images. If you address commercial fabric dyeing in your series you may come across the environmental issues associated with that process. Some dye components are toxic. I don’t know how this waste is handled in countries that supply the fabrics quilters use.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I don’t have much confidence in the environmental or safety friendliness of any of it. It does make me uncomfortable when I stop to think of it. I’ve started to look into “green” quilting, but haven’t gotten very far with that. Thanks.

  3. KerryCan

    I’ve never used batik–I don’t think it was widely available when I was in my full-blown quilting phase. I do love some of the colors I’ve seen, though!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      In the shops I use, batiks use almost as much shelf space as “conventionally” printed fabrics. As mentioned, I don’t use them a lot, but more than I used to.


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