the Process of Batik Tulis DyeingCredit: photo by Jolle

Ever wonder how fabrics get those wonderful colors and patterns?  Most fabric is dyed during the processing at the textile mills.  Some patterns take special techniques to produce the end result.  Three particular patterns are unique in their design. These three patterns are the ombré, the tie dye, and the batik patterns.

 What is Batik

 Perhaps the most interesting of the three patterns is the batik.  The word batik is thought by many historians to have come from the Javanese word “tik” which means “to dot.”  Batik dyed fabric originated in Indonesia where even today the fabric is dyed by hand in some areas.  In Java, Indonesia, dyeing cloth using this technique is considered an ancient art form.  There are several thousand patterns recorded and many are considered ancient designs.

 To make the pattern, the design is drawn with liquid wax.  Sometimes the design is pre-drawn on the cloth and theBatik Tulis Dyeing in IndonesiaCredit: photo by Anggoron traced with the wax; other artists create the pattern freestyle.  In the beginning, the waxing was accomplished by using a device called a canting (also called tjanting) tool, which is similar to a wooden pen with a reservoir for the wax.   The most common wax is a combination of bees and paraffin wax. After the wax is applied to the design areas of the cloth, fabric dyes are introduced. The wax resists the dye and maintains the original dye or color underneath.  The process can be repeated to produce different colors in the pattern.  After the final dye is applied, the fabric is hung to dry and then the wax is removed.  To remove the wax, the fabric is dipped into a solvent or ironed between newspaper type paper. 

 As technology advanced and countries became more industrialized, automated techniques were used to produce the batik fabric.  In the 19th century the wax began to be applied with large copper stamps or caps.  This method allowed the batik designs to be mass produced. To delineate the technique used, the mass-produced fabric designs are labeled as batik cap or batik print.  Fabric with designs using the hand waxing and dyeing with the canting tool is called batik tulis. 

 Dyeing Fabric with Ombré Pattern

 Ombré is a more recent pattern.  The name means “to shade” or “shaded or shadowed” in French and refers to a pattern of color graduation.  It is often called dip-dyeing due to the actualOmbré Dyeing MachinesCredit: photo by user Eugenfung technique to produce the ombré pattern.  Most often only one color is used, progressing from light to dark or dark to light. However, it is possible to have a combination of complimentary colors so long as the colors graduate in shade.

 Garments being dyed with graduated coloring requires it to be either slowly pulled from the dye, or portions rolled onto a rod until ready for dipping.  The portions of fabric staying in the dye the longest will have the deepest color.  Though this may seem like a simple dye method, if done at home it does takes some timing and patience to get the desired results.

 Tie Dye Fabric

 Many Americans believe this method of dyeing fabric was invented in the 1960s. However, tie dyeing cloth was Tee Shirt in Tie Dye PatternCredit: photo by Simon Lyallintroduced in the United States in the early 1900s and quite popular in the 1920s.  It came back into style in the 60s as a way of expressing individuality.  The actual process dates back to ancient times in China, Indonesia, Southeast Asia and Japan.

 This method of dyeing fabric is one of the easiest to master for home dyers.  The cloth or garment to be dyed is folded into a pattern and then bound by rubber bands or strings.  The cloth can also be tied in knots to create a tie dye pattern.  Dye is then applied to parts of the cloth or garment.   Tee shirts are popular for tie dyeing and the dyes are better absorbed when the tees are wet. 

 Dyeing fabric creates many color possibilities. The different patterns and designs allow for further expression.   The batik tulis is the most expensive of the three patterns, but apparel as well as other textile goods in these beautiful dye designs can be easily purchased.  If attempting to create these patterns at home, ensure success by using the correct fabric dyes and following the instructions on the packaging.






 The copyright of the article “Different Dyeing Fabric Techniques” is owned by Cheryl Weldon and permission to republish in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.