BATIKS Etcetera & Sew What Fabrics

Quilt with beautiful Batik.

About Batik

How to Wash Batiks and Set Dyes

Batiks Etcetera & Sew What Fabrics specializes in Indonesian and Malaysian batiks. We find they are the highest quality of dyes, prints(tjaps), and base cloth. We find these fabrics bleed less, lose color less, and respond best to quilting, dressmaking, and home decor. The Indonesian and Malaysian batiks are mostly dyed with fiber reactive Procion dyes which are dyes hand dyers in the US prefer. The colors are permanent and brilliant.

Indian batiks are lovely but like madras most bleed. It is a different look but one I found is more trouble than most people want to deal with.

In making a batik with a design or a tjap(pronounced “chop”) that has been stamped on the fabric with wax, very hot water is used to remove the wax.

That also sets the colors, shrinks the fabric, and removes excess dye.

The last color may or may not have been followed by the hot water treatment. But the dye (if procion) is inert and will not dye other fabrics.

If the batik does not have a design there may be excess dye that should be removed before using the fabric in a project.

These batik have not been through the very hot water to remove wax,  We call these designs “almost solid batik” or “multi colored batik”.

This would be like the many handpainted batiks that are made by Hoffman, Benartex, Island, Timeless, Kaufman and others. I find there is usually some excess dye in these.

So what do you do? I prewash all fabrics including batiks. I usually sort my fabrics by light and dark. I use Retayne and hot (140 degree) water and follow the instructions. I find this removes any wax that may still be in the fabric as well as excess dye.

A great answer for quilters is in the form of color collector or color catcher sheets.  Shout makes one that really works.  You throw it into the wash with your fabric or your finished quilt and the sheet collects any excess dye!

They are really a great answer when you are using a jelly roll and cannot prewash.  I now “gift” a box of Color Collector sheets with quilts.  I also “gift” a guarantee that I will repair a quilt if needed to family members.  That makes sure they will use and enjoy the quilt.

A lot of people do not prewash any of their fabrics. If it is a wallhanging and not a bed quilt that will get hot cocoa on it, I’m fine with that. But bed quilts, I want to be able to wash.

If I don’t want to prewash, I test my suspect fabrics by cutting an inch square, putting it in hot water, and microwaving it on high. I let it cool. If the water is highly colored, I prewash that piece of fabric and set the dye with Retayne. I often will have 6-8 little pyrex bowls brewing to check fabrics.

You’ll find a formula of what to wash and what not to worry about.  Remember the Color Catcher sheets!


6 thoughts on “About Batik

  1. I found this very informative. I am disabled & having to wash & iron all my fabric is beyond my strength. I swear by Shout’s Color Catchers, they really do the job. But now I will do the microwave tip to know about each fabric. Thanks, see you on my next visit.

  2. do you know if these ‘shout’ colour catchers are available in canada??? we are in a rural community in sask and i have never heard of these….. and also, the retayne – does one buy that at the pharmacy?
    thanx so much in advance

  3. Shout color catchers are by Johnson & Johnson. I know carry them but don’t know about inside Canada.
    The retayne is usually purchased at a quilt shop or online. We carry it at

  4. Please add me to your e-mailing.

  5. Dear Carol, I woul really like to learn how to do Batik but we do not have anyone in Nassau who can help. I have been looking for workshop in Florida to help but i could not find anything. If you have any books, DVD or where i could go in Fla. Please let me know,
    Most greatfoul,Bea

  6. Dear Carol, If you have books ,DVD or any workshop on Batiks please let me know.I lived in the Bahamas and Florida would be near to the Bah.
    Most greatful


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