Nicole and I have partnered up again for the second installment of our DIY series!  Coming at you once a month! Remember last month’s watercolor paper flower tutorial!?  Well, today we are teaching you how to batik dye, creating a beautiful tapestry for your wall….or any fun special occasion!

Supply List:

– Drop cloth or heavy cotton canvas

– Paraffin wax or Beeswax (or a combo of the two)

– Crock pot or double boiler

– Rit liquid dye

– Pencil

– Scissors

– Gloves

– Old paintbrushes

The first thing you will need to do is cut your fabric to the preferred size and lightly sketch out your design.  We cut our drop cloth to 34″ X 46″ and went with a simple flower crown illustration for our design.

Next, heat up your wax in an old crock pot or using a double boiler on the stove. Heat the wax to around 170’F (80’C) making sure that your wax does not get to the flash point. (never leave it unattended).

Take an old paint brush (one you don’t mind tossing)  and trace over the design with the wax as you would with paint.  We recommend placing some cardboard underneath the fabric so you don’t destroy the surface of whatever you are working on.  Remember, you are painting where you do NOT want the dye to go.  Make sure your wax is at a hot enough temperature so that it absorbs into the thread.  You dont want your wax just sitting on top of the fabric, because that will effect the outcome.  Allow wax to harden.

Take liquid RIT dye and mix with warm water in a large plastic bucket (or mix the dye as indicated on the packet you are using) Don’t be a afraid to play around with the ratios of dye to water- use test strips until you achieve the color you really want.  We used a black dye and the color ended up being a purple-ish charcoal tone.

Put on some plastic gloves and dip your fabric into the dye….if you want it darker, allow dye to soak in as much as possible to achieve the darkest shade.  Ours was left in the dye for about 15 minutes before rinsing.  Rinse with room temp water and hang to dry.

To remove the wax: Place a paper towel on both the top and bottom of your fabric.  iron the fabric until all the wax has heated and lifted from the fabric. Replace the paper towel as you go until all the wax is absorbed.

Your fabric is ready to hang!  You can choose to display your fabric however you want, but what we did was sew a small pocket at the top of the fabric, about an inch wide.  We inserted a wooden rod and attached string to either end to hang.  The edges were left unfinished.


Hope you have fun with this one!  Let us know if you give it a try!



  1. Nadya N.

    This makes me want to make my own batik dress/top/outwear. There’s lots of Indonesia traditional batik print, please check ’em out and do something similar xD

  2. Toni-Louise

    This is a brilliant idea! Really adore the way it looks on the wall, think I just found a little weekend project! :) x

  3. Wilmer Mckay

    Incredible! This blog looks exactly like my old one!
    It’s on a totally different subject but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Excellent choice of colors!

  4. Ang

    The lazy in me would like you to just make a bunch of these amazing things and sell them in your etsy shop. haha! Great job Kelli & Nicole, it’s amazing! If I feel saucy I’ll try my hand at it. Or just wait for the listing…

  5. Makenzy Yeats

    Love. I just need to hire you to artsy up my house. Maybe you want to match a batch someday and put them on etsy?? Lol. Lazybones me. Love this so much!!


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  6. Maria

    I LOVE your design choice! Great tutorial! I took a fabric dying class in college and loved it. I’d add that after you’ve taken out all the wax you can, you can have your work dry cleaned to get the rest of the wax out (if it’s still a bit crispy and you’re doing it on a skirt or some other type of wearable). You’re inspiring!

  7. ginger

    Gorgeous! I would have thought it would be too boho for my tastes, you know…I see the word batik and run…but it’s amazing and could fit any design scheme.


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  8. Jennifer C

    Oh my goodness, this is GORGEOUS.

    Can you imagine if you did this like Ukrainian Easter egg dying? Starting with the lightest colour and then over-dying it after adding more wax?

  9. Hannah

    Or you could try using Elmer’s Blue School gel Glue instead of wax. It is much easier to wash off!

  10. Greta

    I agree! I could never make something this beautiful on my own. I’m creative, but not good at drawing/painting.

    Will you consider stocking them in your shop? Or a template?

  11. Katie

    Oh, PERFECT! I have been hating my current wall art in my living room! This is fantastic! Thank you so much for making this tutorial!

    Just three itsy questions: 1) where did you get a dropcloth that nice? 2) how much dye did you use, and 3) did you tear the cloth to get that uneven look at the bottom?

    Thank you again for the tutorial!

    • kelli

      Thanks Katie!
      The dropcloth is from Home Depot.
      I used about one full bottle of liquid RIT dye (but mixed it with a lot of water) …just follow the directions on the package.
      THe bottom is just the selvage edge of the dropcloth….so I just left it as it is.

  12. Kirsti

    Where is this chair from shown below the tapestry? I’m building a new desk and have been searching for something just like that to go with it. Thanks!

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  14. Paiko Hawaii

    Lovely, thanks for this great DIY, I never thought about batik in this way & I’m excited to try it!
    For the people requesting templates, you can make yourslef a guide by printing an image out from your computer (use multiple pages pieced together for larger images) and cut out the image using an exacto. This will give you a guide to follow if you aren’t confident in going free-hand.

  15. David Tang

    Ah, very good very beautiful, we Chinese also has a lot of batik clothing and jewelry, our professional management, there will be a lot of cheap batik clothing accessories, welcome to share!

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  42. Maya

    Hi, I adore this, congratulations on its wonderful-ness! I too turned up my nose when I saw it was on ‘batik dye’ – I don’t know why really! Anyway, I’m defo going to give this a whirl, thank you :-) By the way, what’s with all the quite random comments…have you caught the eye of an online ‘bot’ or something??

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  44. Megan

    I am trying this next weekend! I do have a question though…

    Do you need beeswax, will soy wax work? I made candles and have extra wax-I’d hate to buy more if what I have will work!


  45. shaa

    instead of using paper towels, please use newspaper! it absorbs wax just as well. recycle! dont waste ;)


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  47. Sarah Lawrence

    If I were to just use a regular pan to heat up the wax would that work okay too or is the wax going to ruin the pan?

    • Sari Sant

      It will not ruin the pan. The double boiler and crock pot are just to prevent over-heating. When you over-heat wax, it catches on fire.

  48. Mira

    This is really great! It reminded me of my batik painting experience at MyBatik, Kuala Lumpur. I’d recommend everyone to go for batik painting if you were to visit Malaysia, because it is one of Malaysia’s ancient traditional arts. I had the privilege to experience batik painting while i was on my visit to the capital city of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. I stumbled upon MyBatik whilst i was walking around KL, from KLCC. I didn’t even know the place existed, it is a beautiful place, very relaxing in the midst of chaotic Kuala Lumpur. I was really pleased with the batik painting that i made there, by myself. I find the price reasonable too. For anyone who is visiting Kuala Lumpur, this is an opportunity not to be missed! Give batik painting a try!

  49. gianna caputo

    first of all, totally doing this. I bought some giant plain white towels from JoAnns, not sure what I’d end up using them for, and now I can put them to use! Secondly though, where is that fantastic little pillow from? I’ve been looking all over for something just like it!

  50. Lou Kelly

    I love this. It looks so sophisticated. I think I’ll try it on something a lot smaller to begin with though. I’m creating a black and white artwork wall in my hallway. It’s all original art so far and I’m gradually adding to it. This could be a nice small piece to add to the collection. Thanks for the tutorial.


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  52. Alexis

    I am an encaustic painter and i use wax to paint every day. It isn’t a good idea to use a double boiler for this craft. It is dangerous to heat wax on a stove because of the fumes are toxic and it is really easy for the wax to get too hot on a stove. Also if the wax ever boiled over it would start a fire. A much safer way to heat wax would be in a small metal container on a hot plate. Please be safe keep the temperature below 200 degrees, work in a well ventilated area and never leave it unattended !!! Have fun everyone:)

  53. Juliana Scialabba

    I did this DIY and LOVE it!!!! I go to SCAD, and wanted to take a try at dying things for other projects- so this was a great tester, cheap, and now I have a decoration for my new apartment!


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  55. Emily

    Hi! I’ve tried this a couple times and I’m getting what looks like an excess of wax around my design after I try to iron it out. It looks like it’s wet around my design but it’s dry. Any ideas on how to get rid of this or prevent it?

    • kelli

      unfortunately, I don’t make these for sale….just offer the tutorial for those who want to try for themselves!

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  56. Deanna

    Hi! I’m a professional batik artist (I majored in fiber arts in college) and as such, I can’t help but speak up when other people are batiking too. It’s my favorite method of dyeing! I love your piece above- especially because of its graceful simplicity. I wanted to throw in a few tips here:

    -When using hot wax, always make sure to be in a well ventilated area. Even if it’s winter, open your windows. You do not want to breathe in those fumes.
    -I’ve never used RIT dye, only Procion dyes, but if I want a vibrant color, I let my fabric sit in the dye at least overnight. I’m assuming it’d be the same with RIT dyes: the richer you’d like your color, the longer it should sit, and I’d suggest 8-10 hours. If you’re going for a pastel shade, however, go for just a few minutes.
    -I would not suggest using a good crock pot or cooking pot to melt your wax in: I always recommend using art designated materials. If you’d like to do this project, go to the thrift store and buy a $1 pot to melt wax in. Don’t use your own! Wax is very hard to remove from most surfaces, and you don’t want wax/dye/art materials getting mixed into things you use for preparing food.
    -If you follow the above advice and iron out your wax, you *must* use an art designated iron. You *will* cover your regular iron with wax and it *will* come off on your clothes. I have 2 irons set aside specifically for batiking and dyeing- one for ironing dyed fabric without wax (dye occasionally seeps out while ironing), and one for ironing the wax out. You must also use a separate ironing board, because it will get covered in wax and dye. If you don’t want to go out and buy one just for this project, layer some old towels on a table and iron on those instead. I can’t stress to you enough that using your good iron and ironing board for batiking is a terrible idea. Also, using newsprint is the way to go, as opposed to paper towels. I use old newspapers. Cheap and plentiful! And they won’t leave paper towel fuzzies all over your piece.
    -That being said, ironing will get most, but not all, of the wax out. If you iron your piece, you’ll be left with a wax halo around your image. I have tried ironing out wax, boiling it out, and sending my pieces to the dry cleaners. The dry cleaners is the only thing that I have found will completely get your wax out- BUT! Not every dry cleaning place will. It all depends on their process and how often they empty their…uhh…something…cleaning solution, I suppose…as to whether or not they will get out your wax. I tried many, many dry cleaners in my area, and only *one* of them actually completely removed the wax from my batiks. So before you drop $40 on a pile of batiks you’d like cleaned, only to get them returned looking exactly the same (true story, and we were not so wealthy at the time, so losing $40 was a huge blow), ask your dry cleaners if they can remove wax. And ask if they’ll give you your money back if they fail to.
    -This is a simple, one layer project, but traditional batiks are made up of many layers. It’s like watercolor: you have to plan your image in reverse, going from lightest area to darkest. You can modify this project to add more colors: paint your white design in wax first, then dye your second color- let’s say dusty pink- and let dry. Do not iron out your wax. Now, add your pink design to your white design, and dye another color, remembering that all colors will depend on the color before them. For example, after dyeing this piece dusty pink, you will never be able to get a robin’s egg blue from the same piece, because robin’s egg blue doesn’t have pink in it. You will, however, be able to get a nice purple-y blue. So say you dye this piece purple-y blue: you now have a triple layer batik, made up of white, pink, and blue layers. You can keep going- there’s no limit to layers, except that they’ll get muddier and muddier as they build up- and when you’re finished, then clean out your wax. Ta-da!
    -Lots of things make lovely patterns. I use the rims of old glass cups or mason jars dipped in the wax to create circles. Play around with things you have laying about the house- but remember that wax is quite hard to remove from them once you’re done, so maybe choose things you’ll want to continue to use in artmaking.
    -If you don’t want to bother with wax, you can create batiks using elmer’s glue- but only the blue gel, not the regular white glue. The lines aren’t as clean and the images tend to bleed more, but it’s the same idea: trace out your design, paint in with glue, let dry, dye your piece. However, instead of ironing out your glue, you have to wash it out, and it requires a good bit of elbow grease to scrub out layers of dried glue from a piece. I’ve tried this, though, and it does work.
    -One last note: paraffin wax and beeswax will give you completely different feels to your batik. A piece done in 100% paraffin will come out crackly and with sharper lines. And when I say “crackly”, I mean, like…hm…like ice cracks in a frozen pond. If you like that effect and wish to emphasize it, throw your piece into the freezer for 15-20 minutes between applying your wax and dyeing. That will cause the wax to crack more and create lovely intricate lines in your pattern. If you want a smoother effect, however, go with beeswax: you will get no cracks there, and your image will be a bit softer and more rounded overall. Personally, I like a blend, so I get some cracks but also some more rounded shapes going on. If you’re not sure, try a 50/50 blend. Also, melted beeswax is my favorite smell. It smells like honey. Mmmmm. But don’t inhale too many fumes. :) Happy batiking!

  57. mackenna

    just wondering if you made that white pillow down there with the black triangle pattern and had a DIY somewhere? or where did you buy it?

  58. Roberta Devers-Scott

    Can you please tell me if the particular you used (the wreath) is downloadable somewhere or available for purchase?

  59. Sydney

    I just love this! I would love to do this! Unfortunately I probably wouldn’t find a cloth with a gorgeous design like you did!

  60. Samantha Taylor

    Roughly how much does it cost to do all of this, thinking I would need to buy a drop cloth, beeswax and liquid dye?

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