Batik dyed quilt panels

Finished batik panels
Finished batik quilt panels - morning glory leaves at left and hydrangea at right.

Recently Marc and I tried our hand at batik dyeing to make two silk panels for a large family project to make a quilt for one of Marc’s cousins who is getting married. Congratulations James and Nicola!

The photos here show the two panels being painted with wax and dye in leaf patterns traced from photos of our garden. One panel shows a morning glory vine and the other shows hydrangea leafs. The dyes were special – Marc’s grandfather worked on creating them! We used regular candle wax melted in a double boiler and an acrylic bristle brush for brushing the resist lines onto the silk. The brush is dedicated now, encased in wax as it is, so I look forward to doing some more wax painting and dyeing with the remaining dye.

The pattern was prepared by digitally blowing up the photographs and printing them out at the right size. We set up a temporary light table on the kitchen counter, next to the wax double boiler on the stove, so that the pattern could be traced onto the silk directly with the wax, without tracing with a pencil or the like that might mark the light coloured fabric. Once the wax cooled, we used paintbrushes to apply deep yellow, olive, and dark green dye in a wet on wet watercolour technique to make the colours run into each other.

Once painted, we covered the wet panels with plastic wrap and let the dye set for several hours before giving the silk a good rinse. Then it was boiling in plain water to remove the wax, a dip in cold water, and more boiling in water with detergent to get the remaining dye completely out of the fabric.

The process took all day, from photos of plants to ironing the final pieces, and it was very satisfying. I’ve always wanted to try batik and now I’m hooked. Look for more batik patterns in the future!

Wax in a double boiler and pattern being traced.
Using a brush to apply melted wax to one of the silk panels.
Using a brush to apply dye to a silk panel prepared with wax.
Using a brush to apply dye to a silk panel prepared with wax.
Painting batik panels with dye.
Painting batik panels with dye.
Green and yellow painted leaves
Yellow and green dye hand painted on the silk between the wax lines. Some of the wax was well absorbed in the fabric and formed a complete barrier to the dye, resulting in a crisp line. Some of the wax sat more on the surface or had breaks and allowed the dyes to bleed through.
Dyed silk wrapped in plastic wrap
Dyed silk wrapped in plastic wrap to keep it wet so the dye can set for a few hours.
Temporary kitchen studio.
Temporary kitchen studio with a makeshift light table. Here the panels are all painted with dye and wrapped in plastic to keep them wet while the dye sets for a few hours.
Removing the plastic wrap from the panels.
Removing the plastic wrap from the panels.
Running water and bowl of green dye.
Rinsing off the excess dye before removing the wax.
Closeup photo of leaf pattern
Closeup of the painted fabric after rinsing, with the wax still in place.
Batik panel close up showing yellow and green colours.
Closeup of one of the batik panels showing the lovely texture of the silk and the different colours of dye running together like a watercolour painting.
Two steel pots and a steel bowl used in clearing the wax in batik dyeing.
The boiling pots - bottom right is the pot of boiling clean water, upper right has the clean cold water bath, and on the left is the pot of water that will have detergent in it.
Steel pot with green cloth and melted wax floating on the boiling water.
Boiling away the wax. You can see the fatty wax sitting on top of the water like bowl of fatty ramen soup.
Rinsing silk in a bowl of cold water.
Dipping the silk panels in cold water between boiling in clean and boiling in water with detergent.
Steel pot of boiling water and a small scoop of detergent powder.
Adding laundry detergent to the final boiling pot - just a small amount is enough.
Cooking pot with batik dyed cloth being boiled to remove the wax.
Using tongs to move around the silk panels in a pot of boiling water to remove the wax.
Final rinsing of the panels.
Final rinsing of the clean silk panels.

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