What are Modern Batiks?

Most quilters are familiar with batik fabrics– cotton fabric that has been hand painted, stamped, or dyed over (similar almost to tie dye) to give a multicolored, handcrafted look. In addition to these classic prints (that may or may not be the modern quilter’s taste) over the last few years, a new type of batik has emerged: the modern batik!

While most fabrics that we carry are screen printed on large machines in Japan or Korea, modern batiks are hand printed using stamps and dyes in Bali and Indonesia. You will see slight imperfections in the pattern and dyes on these hand fabrics which give them character. The fabric weight is similar to a quilting cotton but it is slightly less heavy.  These fabrics work very well in quilts but will also make beautiful clothing!

What makes a modern batik “modern”?

In a more traditional style batik, patterns made with wax stamped onto the fabrics with a tjap or a batik stamp are randomly placed.  On the modern batik fabric, the stamps are more carefully and evenly spaced, creating a fabric with a smaller, more regular motif. In the finishing process of a traditional batik, the creators will spread salt on the fabrics as they dry to create a mottled background effect.  The dye on the modern batiks are left more saturated and solid; you may still see slight changes and fades in the colors, but it’s not meant to be mottled. Check out the difference in the below photos to see a side-by-side comparison:

As you can see, modern batik prints (left) often use fewer colors than traditional batiks, with Hoffman’s modern Me+You division typically using just two shades. This makes them more subtle and minimalist, often using geometric shapes. Traditional batiks have more complicated designs with multilayered colors.

But all in all, the process is similar! Many hands go into the making of these work of batik fabrics. The team at Hoffman’s Me+You have put together this awesome video that shows the process from start to finish!  The Alison Glass Handcrafted fabrics are created in a similar way.


Will the color run with batik fabrics?  

Nope– the colorfast qualities of a batik are the same as a screen printed fabrics. You will not need to pre-wash, but we always recommend using a color catcher when washing your handmade projects just in case of bleeding.

Do I need to use a different needle with a batik? 

Nowadays batik fabrics are much softer than the fabrics from the last decade. You can use your regular sewing machine needles, no need for a microtex or sharps needle.

Can I mix batiks with other quiling cottons?
Absolutely! Brenda uses solids and other prints in her stash regularly with modern batiks. Check out her Flock of Seagulls quilt with Alison Glass fabric both from the Handcrafted Indigo collection mixed with her Sun Print collection from a few years ago!
Even if you’ve previously shied away from batiks, modern quilters should consider these new, fresh modern batik prints as a way to make their quilts stand out.
Click here to shop modern batiks!