Fabriholics like me love quilt fabric shops. We love to smell the sizing, finger the fabric, savor their feel, and delight in the glory of the colors and patterns that are available. But most of all, we absolutely salivate over batik fabrics. We even enjoy prints that mimic batiks, but at least my pocketbook doesn’t permit any but the most unusual of those.
Batiks come in many varieties. Perhaps the most familiar to all are the rather formal Dutch ones. But there are wonderful ethnic ones, such as those made in traditional patterns in Indonesia (where the batik process was begun) and Malaysia. And finally, there are modern fabrics made with the batik technique. The latter come in blended splashes of colors as well as in patterned designs. Many of these batiks are made by several fabric companies in the United States, on the island of St. Kitts, and in other countries.
Batiks are made by the lost wax process or by another dye-resist method. A negative pattern is produced, and the cotton fabric is dipped into a single color of dye. The dye resist is then removed, one or more applications of the resist are applied and removed, and new colors are added until the final design is created. No two resulting fabrics are identical, since they are handmade with “chops” (a metal or wooden stamp) or painted by hand.
In addition, there are many artists who use batik fabrics as the canvas for their paintings, with designs ranging from folk art to traditional ethnic figures or other designs, to fine art. Many examples of all of these kinds of batiks may be found on the web, which lists places where they may be purchased. Batiks are also readily available in most quilt fabric shops.
I love to use batiks in my quilts, as do many other quilters. However, in the U.S. in recent years, batiks have also become popular for use in many items of clothing, purses, tote bags, decorator pillows, and other fabric items. Most batiks found in quilt fabric stores are competitively priced with more traditional quilting (100%) cotton fabric. However, the Dutch batiks tend to cost a little more, and the ones which are painted by artists are priced in part by size as well as by the quality of the art and can be quite expensive.