View Full Version : Batik for Curtains?

11-13-2014, 05:55 PM
I want to jazz up my bleak and desolate laundry room, with paint and new curtains. I like some batik fabric on fabric.com but I am not crafty and don't really know what it is or if it's sturdy enough. I just like the designs. Can I sew a white lining (for the side that faces outside) on batik fabric and use it for curtains?

11-13-2014, 10:08 PM
(I should probably ETA: that I'm not an expert seamstress...)

Batik is a dying process that uses wax to prevent the medium from soaking up dye in certain parts of the design. The process is repeated with different colors to build up a multicolor design. It's similar to Pysanka egg dying (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pysanka). Batik fabrics are usually a tight weave with high thread counts and come in silk, cotton, and rayon. Because of that and a sometimes waxy feeling residue in the fabric, they're a little stiffer (like stiff cotton sheets) and don't have a significant drape to them. Now, you might find batik-looking fabrics of various types of material that are lighter and have a more significant drape.

I've heard that batiks are really wonderful to work with. I haven't had the chance, but here are tips I've seen.

The cotton batiks tend to hold onto dye, so wash the material in hot water with a color fixative (and also wash your lining fabric so you won't have uneven shrinkage if you need to wash the curtains later). You're supposed to air dry (but not in the sunlight) or machine dry on a very low heat setting (and buy enough fabric to account for possible shrinkage). When you iron it, use steam and a pressing cloth. You don't want direct heat.

When applying patterns, silk pins work best, and make sure your scissors are sharp. Because of the high thread count and tighter weave, you should use a new, sharp needle (some people use needles for denim) in your sewing machine, usually a finer one (70/10), and a light- to medium-weight thread (50- or 60-weight) made from polyester, silk, or cotton.

Since batik fades in the sun, you'd definitely want to line it. Lining gives a fabric more body, though, and batiks already don't drape very well, so you might end up with a stiff curtain (I don't know what look you're going for). I hear since Batik is hefty, it tends to stay where you put it and it is easier to sew than slicker fabrics. I don't really know what lining you should use, but I haven't heard anyone say to stay away from anything in particular. I'm not sure why any traditional lining fabric wouldn't be okay. Some say maybe use a lining fabric that feels similar to the touch to the batik you get, that has the same "hand" as it were, but I've also seen people line dresses with lightweight, cotton sheers like voile or poly blends.

(I've also heard the batik remnants make lovely table napkins.)

11-13-2014, 10:35 PM
I only have experience of one piece of batik. A friend brought it to me from Fiji maybe 30 years ago. It is stiff, bumpy (kind of hard to describe, like cotton that had been soaked, then crumpled up and allowed to dry that way, and pulled out 'flat' without ironing. if that makes any sense), and I would think unsuitable for curtains. Mine is smallish, maybe 24X36, and mounted in a picture frame.

If what you are seeing is yardage, it is unlikely to be real batik. More probably it is a cotton fabric with a batik type design printed on it. If that is the case, it should be fine for curtains.


11-19-2014, 07:16 AM
The batiks at Fabric.com aren't thick or stiff. They're basically quilting cotton, but with a wax-dye print. Not sure if the wax-dye is authentic or not, but it's very pretty! I've bought several of them and they're always gorgeous.

I wouldn't use a denim needle, a regular universal (size 11) will work fine.

Like any curtain that's going to be exposed to the sun, you'll want to line it. As was mentioned, you'll need to pre-wash both fabrics, but separately, so the dye doesn't bleed onto the lining. I would use cold water and low heat on the dryer, just to be safe. (Cotton can shrink drastically with hot water and high heat.)

11-19-2014, 07:39 AM
Oops, I forgot to check back on my own question before ordering the fabric (fabric.com). Sorry!

It's like this but a slightly different design (I bought the last 3 yards of mine so I can't show it):


I got this to line it:


And this thread:


It's for this door:


I'm just going to sew it by hand. Does it seem like it will work all right?

So, wash and dry both fabrics, separately and not hot, then iron with a towel over it first?

Thanks! If you hear any screaming you'll know I sewed my fingers together! :p

11-19-2014, 09:09 AM
Everything looks good, but I wouldn't iron with a towel, no. Not enough heat will get through to the fabric and it won't get the wrinkles out. If it's a fragile fabric, you could use a pressing cloth (any thin, semi-sheer cotton works fine), but these batiks aren't fragile. Just iron normally!

When you put it in the dryer, take two pairs of men's athletic socks (the white kind) or whatever you have that's similar, and tie them in knots, or flip them around each other, so they form balls. Toss them in the dryer with the fabric, and they'll bounce around, keeping the fabric loose and tumbling. Otherwise, it will twist up into long ropes that won't dry.

When cutting, remember that you need double the width of the window, if you want it to look gathered. If you just want a straight, flat curtain, you can cut it the exact width, plus a seam allowance (since you're lining it, not hemming it). But for a gathered look, you need twice the width, plus a seam allowance. Add extra to the length for the channel for the curtain rod, and if you want a narrow ruffle at the top (a header), you need to add extra for that, too.

If you're hand sewing the entire thing, make sure you get a comfortable thimble! I hate the metal kind. I use one that's black leather, with a metal circle embedded in the tip, so the end of the needle won't penetrate.

11-19-2014, 09:36 AM
Thanks, Orianna. :)

11-19-2014, 06:04 PM
No problem! Always glad to help out. :)

11-19-2014, 06:52 PM
I have quite a bit of the cotton batik collection from the same source. I've found they bleed just a little on first washing, so launder alone or with like colors. For curtains, I'd iron the fabric before cutting, since straight lines matter. It's 100% cotton, so use that setting on your iron. No need to protect the cloth with a towel or other presscloth. If you catch it at the right moment coming out of the dryer, pressing it while damp will work great.

Pre-wash the lining fabric, too. If it shrinks, even a little, after you make the curtains, it'll be bad because they won't be able to lie flat if the size of one has changed.

I've found Fabric.com's cotton batik collection pretty high quality, much better than what I can get at JoAnn. The cloth itself is finer and the dying process better done and far more colorfast. I've never used a color stabilizer or anything else to set the color. No need.

Maryn, hoping you'll post a picture of the curtains when they're done