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Do you love sewing with batik fabrics?
Never thought about it?
Think they’re a bit too…retro? 70s? Ugly?
I’ve heard it all over the years. Batik fabrics – you either love them or you hate them. There never really seems to be a middle ground. But, here’s the thing…working with batiks doesn’t have to be scary or old fashioned. In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth.
What are batiks?
Batiks are a type of dyed fabric in which removable wax is applied in a design or pattern. This creates a ‘resist’ which keeps the dye from reaching those ares where the wax is applied. After the fabric is dyed, it is then boiled off, which exposes the color and design. Layering with wax and dye a number of times creates a multi-colored design! The best part? Batiks don’t have a right/wrong side…well…most of the time. We’ll go more into what batiks are and the different types in a later blog post!
Sewing with batiks is fun and easy. They create one of a kind patterns that are just as beautiful to look at as they are to work with.
Anyway, here are a few of my Top Tips for Sewing with Batiks.
1. Choose what inspires you.
Inspiration is the mother of all design. My best ideas come from a kernel of an idea that I allow blossoming. The first batik quilt I ever made (pictured below) was born of an idea to use up a few spare batik layer cakes I had lying around. I cut them up, mixed them up, and sewed them all back together! Cool right?
My inspiration drove the design but the batiks supported it. I stepped away from the preconceived notions I had about them, and just went with it! Often, we have to push past the barriers we’ve built in our minds to open us up.
2. Stop looking at the overall fabric.
I think a lot of people look at batik’s and get overwhelmed. Take, for example, this fabric. It’s gorgeous BUT there is a lot going on and it can look a bit muddy overall.
So…let’s break it down. Quilting is simply cutting up perfectly good fabric and then sewing it back together, right? Right.
If we zoom in, we get three different looks. From green to purple to gold. Would this require a bit of fussy cutting to get these specific colors? Sure. But, I’m not proposing that. What I want to encourage you to do is to not look at the overall fabric but to break it down into manageable areas. This takes the fear out using a fabric as ‘busy’ or ‘variegated’ as this.
3. Combine solids and batiks!
It sounds a little…dirty? Some people just don’t love mixing fabrics but, sometimes it really is for the best. Combining a solid fabric with batiks gives a little area for the eye to rest. Batiks can be busy and even the neutral prints can have a lot going on. So, try using a simple solid quilting cotton to give your batiks the moment they need to shine in all their glory.
Try it out! I mean, Edyta Sitar has built a while career combining solids and batiks!
4. Just LEAN IN
Batiks require a little courage and a certain measure of leaning in! In my quilt, Flying South, I wasn’t really sure I was going to love it. I used six different batiks for each of the flying geese and a neutral batik for the background.
I was so happy with the mix. There is a subtle movement in each of the blocks that I echoed with the directional quilting. I absolutely love this quilt, even bringing the batiks to the binding!
Leaning into the batiks in this quilt gave me the confidence I needed to keep using them. I might even have a fall quilt or two up my sleeve! YAY!
Sewing with batiks is so much fun, and I truly love the process. From choosing the fabric to stitching the blocks, every single part is just so much fun! I hope these top tips for quilting with batiks helps you take the plunge!
When you say her name, every quilter stops. Betsy Chutchian is one of the most prolific quilters known for her wonderful reproduction fabric collections from Moda. She also happens to be one of my very favorite quilt designers.
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Read through my inspiration, design process, and more below!Read More