The only dumb question…

Posted by on September 2, 2011 in blocks | 4 comments

is the one not asked, right?

So what, exactly, makes a fabric a “batik”? After you announced a couple of months back that for Sept. we needed batiks I ordered a FQ bundle of “Indian Batiks” from someplace. Problem is they are all blue or pink and very similar (2 are actually the same fabric) After looking at the fabrics some of you have already posted I know I have some fabrics in my stash that appear to be batiks, but nothing on the selvage indicates this. I don’t want to use the wrong fabrics.

At the very least I need something to contrast with the blues and pink I bought. Maybe I should just use this as an excuse to go fabric shopping – LOL.

Any and all tips appreciated.


  1. If you have a question about any fabric, feel free to send me a photo and we'll talk about it. Here's one link to a history of batik. Type "what is batik" into your favorite search engine and you'll find lots of info. Batik fabrics are DYED, not printed which is why you won't find anything printed on the selvages–so if the fabric from your stash has a printed selvage, it's NOT a batik. These fabrics are patterned by applying wax to the fabric as a resist to the dye … though some "batiks" produced for quilters don't have resist patterns, but do have texture produced in some other fashion.

    Some quilters prefer "Bali batiks" over "Indian batiks" because the wax resist designs are generally finer and/or more complex.

    It's actually pretty easy (and fun) to create your own patterned fabric, using wax an dye. I blogged about my experience in a workshop last summer–my designs were the antithesis of fine and complex 😉

  2. Another way to tell is that the fabric looks the same on both sides, right?

  3. They should look the same on each side. I was in a "batik swap" last year, and over half of the blocks I received were made with non-batik fabric.

  4. Wow, Cyndi, that sounds like a very disappointing swap. Thanks (and to Ginny, too) for suggesting that it looks the same (or nearly so) on both sides. I think it's one of the best way to confirm that something is a batik

    I surprised myself when I was making the blocks for the directions and accidentally pulled (and cut!) a fabric that I thought was a batik until I turned it over to sew it … there are some PRINT designs that are clearly inspired by batiks.

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