Tips For Quilting With Batik Fabric

Visit any quilt or fabric shop and you are bound to come across the batik section. For people who don’t know, batik is a process of dyeing fabric using a wax resist method. Batiks have been around for a long time. While there is evidence that batiks date back to Egyptian times, the island of Java in Indonesia is best known for it. Today, batiks are made by many fabric manufacturers and are popular in the quilting world. If you plan on using them, here are 10 tips for quilting with batik fabric.

Note that these are general tips that I have come up with after quilting for about 30 years. Every batik, and every user, is different.

1. Front Versus Back of Fabric

Front & Back of Batik

If you’ve ever had batiks, you will know that it can be difficult to figure out which side is the front and which side is the back. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. You don’t have to worry about sewing your fabric pieces together correctly. However, on many batiks, there are some signs that can help you identify the wrong or right side of the fabric.

Tiny spots are a good indicator of the wrong side (the back) of the fabric. That’s where the wax did not go through the fabric.

Dull edges on the pattern typically indicate the wrong side.

Vibrance of colors is also a good way to tell the wrong from the right side. The wrong side doesn’t always have quite as much saturation as the front.

2. Weight or Feel of the Fabric

Batiks are a tighter weave and have a heavier feel to them. For many people, they feel stiff. Even after being washed, they don’t tend to drape softly like traditional quilting fabric.

If included in a quilt that is used and washed, that stiffness does go away.

3. Fabric Bleeding

Batik Fabric Bleeding

Many batiks have a tendency to bleed, or lose color, more than traditional quilting fabrics. That is definitely something to keep in mind when using batiks in quilts, and it is recommended to prewash them to get out some of that excess dye.

4. Pressing Issues

Pressing Batiks

Because of their tighter weave, batiks can be harder to press. I have found that they wrinkle a bit more. However, once pressed, that denser texture means they are crisp and easy to sew with. I use a fair amount of steam when pressing batiks.

5. Odor

Some batiks have a distinct odor to them which does seem to lessen over time. I notice a wax smell more when I am pressing the fabric.

6. Expensive versus Inexpensive

Fabrics are a personal choice and, while there are definite differences between expensive and inexpensive batiks, it’s ultimately up to the user to decide what they want to quilt with. However, in general, I have found that inexpensive batiks have a looser weave and less vibrant patterns and colors. They just don’t seem to have that traditional batik feel.

7. Colors

Beautiful Saturated Colors of Batiks

My favorite characteristic of batiks is their saturated color. Don’t get me wrong, regular cotton quilting fabric comes in incredible colors, but batiks have a certain depth of color that isn’t found in other fabrics.

8. Use in Appliqué

Batiks & Appliqué

Because of the tighter weave, batiks don’t fray as much as some other fabrics. That makes them good for appliqué. A word of caution here however. Because of the tighter weave, I find them a little bit trickier to use for needle turn appliqué.

9. Hand Quilting and Batiks

Hand quilting and batik fabrics

I have hand quilted through batiks and, while it can be done, it is definitely more difficult. The fabric weave accounts for that. It is definitely something to keep in mind when choosing fabrics for a quilt that you plan on hand quilting.

10. Combining Batiks and Other Quilting Cottons

I have made many quilts combining batiks with other quilting cotton fabrics, and have never had a problem. However, batiks tend not to shrink as much as some other cotton quilting fabric, so you may want to prewash all of your fabric to avoid any shrinkage after the quilt is done.

Give Batiks a Try

10 Tips for Quilting with Batiks

There you have it, 10 tips for quilting with batik fabric. Over the years I have found that most people either love or hate the fabric. The people who I have spoken to that dislike batiks often say it is because of the feel of the fabric, and I can understand that.

However, I urge everyone to give batiks a try. With their glorious colors and crisp pressed texture, they make stunning quilts.

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Batiks Are Not Just For Quilts

Batik fabric is beautiful in almost any project. Check out my patchwork infinity scarf pattern which looks terrific in batiks.


  1. Sandy Trachsel

    August 15, 2019 at 5:52 PM

    Thanks Claudia. I love batik fabrics, but did not know much about them. Your article is quite informative.

    1. createwithclaudia_7j76hs

      August 15, 2019 at 8:23 PM

      Thanks Sandy – I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

      1. Pamela

        February 20, 2020 at 12:15 AM

        Batiks are definitely unique in every way, the process, the colors, feel and the denseness of the feel. Absolutely my favorite choice. Done with black, it makes the colors even more vibrant.

    2. Joanne

      March 24, 2021 at 3:20 PM

      How do I wash precut batik bundles like jelly rolls, etc… Or should I even wash them at all?

      1. createwithclaudia_7j76hs

        April 1, 2021 at 8:23 AM

        It’s up to you if you wash them or not. I do like to prewash my fabrics. I use a lingerie laundry bag for precuts so they don’t get tossed around as much. I suggest testing a strip or two first so that you see what the results are. Then you can decide if you want to prewash or not. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Eileen Benson

    September 20, 2019 at 2:30 PM

    It was helpful when you said that dull pattern edges will indicate which is the reverse side. I want to buy some batik fabrics online to use for a family quilt. Your tips should be helpful once I start working with the fabric!

    1. createwithclaudia_7j76hs

      September 23, 2019 at 7:41 AM

      Thanks for reading and enjoy making your quilt.

  3. Beverley Williamson

    June 3, 2020 at 3:07 PM

    I have just opened by pack of strips in Bali Pops and was so excited at the depth of the colours I feel I need to make something special with it so I think I will treat myself to a quilt … it will be the first one I will have made for me. Wish me luck and thank you for the tips they were very helpful indeed.

    1. createwithclaudia_7j76hs

      June 4, 2020 at 7:29 AM

      Oh that sounds like fun and I do love my batiks. Thanks for stopping by the website.

  4. Nancy

    June 7, 2020 at 6:42 PM

    This is a good summary of the characteristics of batiks. It’s good to keep in mind hat even with their saturated colors, they will fade from light and washing them too often. As said, they do soften up with use.

    1. createwithclaudia_7j76hs

      June 8, 2020 at 7:30 AM

      Thank you. I definitely love my batiks. I’m starting a new table runner today with a jelly roll of batiks. Fun!

  5. Arlene

    October 7, 2022 at 3:18 PM

    What is the best needle to use in your machine when sewing with batik fabric ?

    1. createwithclaudia_7j76hs

      October 30, 2022 at 7:30 AM

      A fine sharp needle like Microtex works really well with batiks.

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