How Is Batik Fabric Made? Definition, Process, and Tips [FAQs]

Batik fabric is a type of fabric that is created through a resist printing process in which wax is applied to the fabric in specific areas. These areas are then covered in dye, while the wax prevents the dye from reaching the fibers. The fabric is then boiled to remove the wax and produce a unique, nearly patternless appearance.

What is batik fabric?

This fabric-dyeing method originated in Indonesia 2000 years ago and is still popular due to its intricate and labor-intensive design process.

Batik is typically used in dresses and household décor, and its intricate designs have made it an essential part of Indonesian culture and heritage.

What are the different processes of making batik fabric?

1. Dyeing process

The dyeing process for making batik fabric is a multi-step process that involves melting wax, carving a design onto a sponge block, printing the design onto 100% cotton cloth, and then dyeing it in various colors.

The first step is to melt the wax inside a large basin.

Next, carve the desired design onto a sponge block using a knife. Then, dip the sponge block into the hot, melted wax and print it on the cotton cloth (‘stamping’).

After the cloth is stamped, it is submerged in the first dye bath to create the primary background color (usually the lightest). The fabric is then dried outside.

Vat dyes (water-insoluble dyes such as indigo) or reactive dyes (chemical reactions) are typically used for dyeing. Standard dye colors for batik include green, blue, yellow, brown, purple, and indigo.

2. Batik Fabric Creation

The steps involved in making batik fabric are relatively simple but require patience and precision.

Begin by preparing the fabric. This plain cotton fabric should be tightly woven to resist the dye.

Create the design. This is traditionally done by drawing it on the fabric with a pencil, but it can also be done with a hot wax pen.

Heat the wax. This can be done using a wax pen or a tool such as a tjanting.

Apply the wax.

Dye the fabric.

Remove the wax.

Wash the fabric. This should be done in cold water to ensure the dye has been thoroughly set.

Dry the fabric. This should be done by air drying or using a low heat setting on a clothes dryer.

By following these steps, you can create a beautiful piece of batik fabric that will be admired.

3. Waxing Process

The artist then draws the design or pattern with a tjanting needle or stamp onto the fabric. Wax is applied over the penciled-in outline of the pattern, with a higher quality of wax used for finer details.

Areas of the cloth where the wax has been applied will remain white. The wax is boiled off and often reused.

Finally, all the reused wax was applied and reused by heating it, scraping it off, using hot water, and sponging off the remaining wax.

4. Washing Process

It is advisable to hand wash the fabric or at the very least, use a cool hand-wash machine cycle. This will remove some of the wax, but not all.

Once the washing process is complete, the fabric should be dried outside to ensure that all of the wax has been removed.

5. Ironing Process

To begin, place the dyed and dried fabric between two pieces of blank newsprint. Iron the material on the correct setting for the fabric; for cotton, that’s usually medium.

It’s usually best to use an old iron for this step, just in case there’s any transfer of dye. Replace the top layer of newsprint as needed if it gets saturated.

Once you have removed as much wax as possible through ironing, take your fabric outside to boil the rest. You’ll want to bring your old pot of water, your small travel stove to get it to a boil, and a bowl or bucket of cold water.

Place the fabric directly into the boiling water for three minutes to remove any lingering wax, then remove it and transfer it immediately into a bucket of cold water. This will solidify any wax that is remaining, which you’ll then see floating in the water.

Repeat the boiling and cold water process, let your fabric dry, and admire your beautiful work!

6. Batik Art Design

Batik art has been an ancient technique for centuries to create intricate and beautiful fabric designs.

After the dye is applied, the wax is removed by boiling, resulting in a crinkled design with varied, vivid colors.

Batik originated in Java as part of a long tradition of Indonesian textile designs, and it is now widely used around the globe.

In Africa, it was introduced by English and Dutch merchants in the 19th century. African tribes such as the Yoruba, Wolof, Soninke, and Bamana developed their designs using mud, cassava starch, and rice paste instead of wax.

Today, batik is widely used for clothing, accessories, and home décor. In addition, batik art is also used to create more intricate and detailed works with unique patterns and designs steeped in cultural and spiritual significance.

7. Drying process

The fabric should be dried outside in a well-ventilated area. This can be done by laying it flat or hanging it up. In case of bad weather, the fabric can be dried indoors.

Once the fabric is completely dry, it should be ironed or steamed to remove any remaining wax residue. This will also help set the dye and make the fabric look more vibrant.

Batik fabric is an excellent way to add unique, eye-catching designs to any project. With a few simple steps and patience, you can create beautiful art pieces with this traditional and enduring technique.

8. Final Step

This bath will be the color of the desired end product. Areas of the fabric not covered with wax will absorb the dye and give it its unique pattern. Finally, remove the wax by rinsing it in warm water or using a scraper.

Tips on how to choose and use batik fabrics

1. Understand the Batik Fabric-Making Process

The batik fabric-making process is an incredibly intricate and labor-intensive design process many have celebrated and admired for centuries. It involves melting wax in a basin, carving a design onto a sponge block using a knife, and then imprinting it onto 100% cotton fabric.

The batik fabric-making process provides a unique, beautiful, sustainable, and eco-friendly design, as the wax can be recycled and reused for other designs. Various dyes are used, such as vat dyes, reactive dyes, and standard colors like green, blue, yellow, brown, purple, and indigo.

This process can help people make well-informed decisions when choosing and using batik fabrics.

Knowing the labor-intensive design process and the selection of dyes helps ensure you choose the suitable fabric for your project.

2. Investigate the Different Batik Fabrics Available

Batik fabric is a unique and intricate fabric hand-crafted with wax and dye. It is popular in quilting, dressmaking, and crafting items like bags. Several different types of batik fabric are available, each with unique characteristics.

It has a smoother finish and can be more challenging to work with.

Batik fabric should be washed with care on a gentle cycle or by hand and not tumble-dried.

Many batiks are created in Indonesia and have a rich history and culture. Visiting museums or exploring online can be a great way to learn more about the history of batik fabric.

3. Consider Your Style and Needs

First, decide what fabric you want, such as cotton, rayon, or a combination.

Then look through the various colors and patterns available. Early tones, such as brown, blue, and black, are traditional.

However, some designers may use a white background with symbolic color patterns. Once you have decided on a design, you can look at the different types of fabrics available.

For instance, you may want to combine cotton and rayon clothing and accessories for the greatest discounts.

Additionally, if you are creating something small, like a purse, you may want to use your batik fabric leftovers to create a unique and beautiful gift for someone special.

Utilizing the latest trends and craft innovations will help you reach your full potential and create a piece you are proud of.

4. Research Batik Fabrics Made from Different Materials

Step 1: Start by researching the history behind batik fabric, particularly the process of how it is made.

Step 2: Cotton is typically the most accessible fabric, while 100% rayon is also standard. Also, learn about either 100% natural or primarily natural fabrics.

Step 3: Research other fabrics that can be used in batik production. For example, linen, ramie, and hemp can be used, as well as polyester and acrylic.

Step 4: Consider the drawbacks of using certain fabrics in batik production. For example, silk cannot be used in batik fabric production because of its wicking properties.

Step 5: Once you understand the different fabrics used in batik production, look for suppliers that offer these fabrics in the desired style and quality. Doing some research on the quality and durability of each material is essential.

Step 6: Finally, compare your findings and decide on the suitable fabric.

5. Look for Batik Fabrics with Specific Design Elements

Remember a few essential tips if you are looking for specific design elements in batik fabrics. Knowing where the fabric comes from is critical, as certain countries have distinct styles.

For example, Indonesian batik is known for its intricate animal and plant-based designs, while Indian and Bali’s are known for their vibrant colors and unique patterns.

You can find various colors and styles to match your style and make a bold statement with your fashion accessory. And, if you’re looking for a quilting project, a subtle design can often be the perfect background for your creation.

Finally, when selecting a batik fabric, it’s important to remember that both sides may look similar due to the wax sinking into the material during the production process.

However, one side may have less blurring around the edges of the design – this is often the side people use for their projects.

For the best selection of batik fabrics, check out Fabrics Galore! We have many Bali and Indian batik designs to inspire your next project.

6. Read Reviews and Read Articles on Batik Fabrics

Reading reviews and articles about batik fabrics can help you become more knowledgeable about this unique and intricate fabric, allowing you to choose and use them more accurately.

By understanding the history and origin of batik fabrics, you can learn how to use them in quilting, dressmaking, and accessory-making projects.

7. Compare Batik Fabrics Based on Quality and Cost

When comparing batik fabrics based on quality and cost, there are several factors to consider. Cotton is generally a higher quality fabric than rayon, so if you are looking for a more luxurious material, you should opt for batik made from cotton.

Secondly, the difficulty of the pattern will also influence the price. It would likely be more expensive if the pattern were hand-made with a tjanting or a more complex copper stamp.

Some inks are more vibrant and of higher quality than others, and this will increase the cost accordingly.

With this in mind, prices for batik fabrics can vary widely, with some starting from 35,000 IDR/meter and rising in cost depending on the quality of the material, pattern, and ink used.

8. Find Batik Fabrics That Suit Your Budget

Finding batik fabrics that work for your budget is not as complicated as it may seem. Here are some tips to get you started:

Look for fabrics with lower quality material, such as cotton, as they are usually cheaper.

Consider the difficulty of the pattern and if it was done by hand using tjanting or by a copper stamp and by whom.

Opt for fabrics with a lower ink quality, as this can help reduce the cost.

Prices can vary based on location, so check out different stores and compare the prices.

If you are in Indonesia, head to Jalan Sulawesi in Denpasar or Double Six street in Seminyak for a wide selection of batik fabrics.

Look online for online stores that sell batik fabrics, as they may offer discounts or deals.

9. Know How to Clean and Maintain Your Batik Fabric

Cleaning and maintaining batik fabric is pretty straightforward. Follow these steps to make sure your fabric is well taken care of:

Pre-wash: Before sewing with batik fabrics, pre-wash the material to test for dye fastness and remove any excess dye. Hand washing is generally recommended, but you can also use a cool hand-wash machine cycle.

Wear Gloves: Wear rubber gloves to avoid getting any dye on your hands.

Choose Color: Select the color you want to use for your batik project and make a dye bath following the instructions on the dye packaging.

Soak: Dip your waxed fabric into your dye bath and allow it to soak for 30 minutes, using more or less time depending on how dark you want the color to be. Make sure your fabric remains completely submerged.

Press and Stir: Use a wooden spoon to press the fabric into the dye bath and stir it occasionally.

Air-Dry: Don’t machine dry your batik fabric—honestly, it’s not a good idea to machine dry any fabric, so it’s always a safer bet to air-dry. Let it air-dry in a place where it’s subject to direct sunlight.

Pressing Tips: Batiks have a tighter weave than many other fabrics, so use a fair amount of steam to press out the wrinkles.

Sharper Needles: Use a sharper and finer needle when sewing with batik fabrics since they have a tighter weave.

By following these steps, you’ll be able to keep your batik fabric looking beautiful for years to come!

10. Try Batik Fabrics in Different Settings to See How They Suit

Batiks are also ideal for adding a bold and vibrant print to garments like skirts and tops.

So many different designs and colors are available that it’s easy to find a batik that suits your style. But how can you try out batik fabrics in various settings to see how they suit?

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you decide which batik fabrics to use for your sewing projects:

Step 1: Begin by browsing our selection of Bali and Indian batik designs from Fabrics Galore. Narrow your selection by color and style to find pieces matching your wardrobe.

Step 2: Once you’ve chosen your batik, cut out a piece of the fabric and set it against a plain fabric, such as denim or cotton. This will give you an idea of how the colors and patterns interact.

Step 3: To better understand how the batik fabric will look on an actual garment, try cutting a piece and draping it over yourself or a mannequin. This will help you decide whether the pattern and color will suit the garment you’re making.

Step 4: Consider adding some quilting to your project to give the fabric a more textured look.

By following these steps, you can ensure you’re choosing the suitable batik fabric for your sewing projects. With so many different designs and colors, you can create something unique with batik fabric.


What is Batik Fabric?

It is constructed from either 100% cotton or 100% rayon and is characterized by a nearly pattern-less appearance.

Batik fabric is used in various sewing projects, from quilting and dress-making to crafting items like bags.

It is labor-intensive to produce, so it usually costs more than printed fabrics, but it is a well-respected and timeless art form.

How is Batik Fabric made?

It originates from Indonesia, and the steps used to achieve the intricate design vary depending on the artist.

The design is first drawn with a tjanting (pronounced chanting) tool, hand applied with a metal tjap (pronounced chop), or brush or sponge.

This is done using a tjap, hand-applying the wax, or using a brush or sponge.

What is the Batik Process?

The process originated in Indonesia and has now spread throughout Southeast Asia.

The highest quality cloth producing the finest batik is known as primisima quality, followed by prima quality, biru (blue) quality, and merah (red) quality which is the coarsest.

This involves several stages, which include the mencanting phase, where the wax designs are applied to the fabric using a traditional tool called a canting.

The waxed areas are dyed using natural dyes, often made from plants.

This is quicker and cheaper than the traditional method, but some batik makers might use batik cap for the main pattern and employ batik tulis for fine details on their cloth.

The finished fabric can be used for clothing and household décor.

What materials are used to make Batik Fabric?

Batik fabric is typically made from either 100% cotton or 100% rayon, although other natural fabrics, such as silk, can also be used. In terms of construction, most batik is either made from 100% cotton or 100% rayon, with the latter providing a softer finish.

Regarding dyes, batik fabric is typically created with beeswax to prevent certain areas of the fabric from being dyed. This allows for the creation of intricate designs with many colors, often layered with one another.

Other materials used to create batik fabric include plants that extract dyes and other natural fabrics like silk.

What tools are used in Batik Fabric making?

Tools used in Batik Fabric making include: Pencil and Paper, Muslin, Scissors (fabric scissors, if you have them), Newspaper, Drop Cloth, Tarp, or Plastic Sheet, Fabric Dyes, Containers with Lids for the Dyes, Water, and Whisk (to mix the dyes), Beeswax (you can buy specific batik wax), Crock Pot or Hot Plate and Pot (to melt the wax), Tjanting Needles, Paintbrushes for Dye, Latex-Free Rubber Gloves (optional), Large Paintbrush for Hot Wax, Clothes Iron, Scissors (fabric scissors are ideal), Clear Tape, Small Paintbrushes, HB Pencil, Container and Wooden Spoon for dye bath, Clean Jar or Cup and Plastic Spoons for combining dye with hot water before adding to the dye bath, Kettle of hot water, Iron and Pot of boiling water for removing the wax, Blank Newsprint, Small Travel Stove.

How do you design Batik Fabric?

Designing Batik fabric is an intricate and beautiful process.

Pre-wash your fabric by hand, using a gentle detergent, and hang it to dry completely. Iron out any wrinkles then cut them down to your desired size.

Lay your reference image on a flat surface and place your fabric over it.

Begin gently tracing your design with an HB pencil. Use a light touch and a steady hand.


Look at the Women series of caftan ponchos from Back from Bali for an example of batik fabric designing. This unique design style uses the “resist” style of creating designs. The fabric is first draped over a bamboo frame to allow airflow underneath.

Next, designs and outlines are drawn on the fabric and traced with hot wax. The cloth underneath the wax will remain the original color.

This process is repeated repeatedly as more wax designs, and dyes are applied to each piece.

What are the different types of Batik Fabric?

A careful process makes it of wax-resist dyeing, in which sections of the fabric are “blocked out” with hot wax and then covered with dye.

This creates a unique and beautiful design after multiple waxings and dyeing. There are several different batik fabrics, each with its characteristics.

Cotton Batik: This type of fabric is typically used for saris and other traditional garments due to its intricate design and delicate texture. Cotton batik must be washed on a gentle cycle or by hand washing and should only be air-dried to avoid damage.

Rayon Batik: This type of fabric is considered more delicate and costly than cotton batik but is still suitable for quilt-making and other crafts. Rayon batik is not suitable for tumble drying and should only be air-dried.

Silk Batik:

Bali and Indian Batik: Bali and Indian batik fabrics are known for their vibrant colors, intricate patterns, and unique charm. Bali and Indian batiks are perfect for creating colorful clothing for many occasions.

What are the different techniques in making Batik Fabric?

Making Batik fabric involves two main techniques – wax-resistant dyeing and salt dyeing.

Wax-Resistant Dyeing

Patterns can also be stamped on with a copper cap tool.

The fabric will go through a series of dye baths to get a multi-colored end result, with wax drawing or stamping done between each colored bath. For best results, the fabric needs to be pulled taut, as this creates streaks of color.

Salt Dyeing

Pull the fabric taut to create streaks of color.

Once the fabric is finished, it can create clothing and household décor. To preserve the fabric and its unique design, it should be washed on a gentle cycle or by hand.

What is the history of Batik Fabric?

Batik fabric can be traced back to Java in Indonesia, located in Southeast Asia, as far back as 2000 years ago. Evidence of its use has also been found in the Far East, Middle East, Central Asia, India, and Singapore.

The batik craft spread throughout these areas, and the Dutch brought Indonesian artisans to teach fabric creation to Dutch workers, increasing its popularity. In the early 1900s, Germans developed mass production of batik fabric, which has remained popular ever since.

It is used for celebrations and rituals and often expresses unique ideas and spiritual beliefs.

In October 2009, UNESCO designated batik as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage.

At the turn of the 21st century, Indonesian fashion designers worked to innovate batik by incorporating new colors, fabrics, and patterns, which made it more popular and fashionable. In 2009, UNESCO recognized Indonesian batik, and the Indonesian administration asked Indonesians to wear batik on Fridays.

This led to batik sales in Indonesia increasing from Rp 2.5 trillion in 2006 to Rp 3.9 trillion in 2010, and the value of batik exports increased from $14.3 million in 2006 to $22.3 million in 2010.

Batik is also famous in neighboring countries of Singapore and Malaysia, although there were some disputes over ownership of the culture before UNESCO’s recognition.

Nevertheless, batik remains a practice that is as much about its cultural and spiritual significance as its beautiful designs.

What are the benefits of using Batik Fabric?

It can be used for dressmaking, patchwork, and quilting, and it is also great for crafting items such as bags and purses.

The wax and dye process used in creating batik fabric gives it a unique, textured look, and its intricate designs can express unique ideas and spiritual beliefs.

Lastly, batik fabric is typically made of 100% cotton or 100% rayon, making it easy to work with and gentle on the skin.

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