Cheap and Easy Batik





Introduction: Cheap and Easy Batik

About: I like trying new things and cheaper or better ways of doing old things. I like making things out of natural materiales such as wood, antlers, shells, clay, etc. but I also have an interest in synthetic poly...

I love the look of batik but not the price or availability of materials in my area. as it turns out you can use regular school glue to get nearly the same effect.

Step 1: Gather Materials

you will need dye(I prefer rit liquid dye; you can use basically any dye you choose, you will just have to follow those instructions instead), fabric( natural fibers like cotton work best), glue(white or blue kinds both work fine), and containers to dye the fabric in(if you don't mind them getting stained then plastic containers are great, otherwise stick to glass or metal). for the dying process it's best to cover your work area, and wearing old clothing and rubber gloves is recommended.

Step 2: Prepping Dye\first Dye

in traditional batik there are layers of dye and patterns, typically you want to start with the lighter colors. if you are using rit dye you can get exact instructions on their website but I like to use the mix of about 1 tsp of dye to 2 cups hot water and 1 tbsp salt. you can change it however you want for different brightness levels and measuring really only matters if you are going for consistency. I like to let the water cool before beginning (especially once you have a glue pattern on the fabric, because hot water will desolve it before the pattern can set), and once you are ready you simply place the fabric in so that it is fully submerged(or only partially if you want a marbled effect) and leave it for at least 30 minutes, mixing it around every few minutes or so. leaving it longer will give you a more vibrant shade. also, the size of bowl I used is quite small for the amount of fabric I used, this is because I wanted a marbled look. to avoid that, use a bigger container or smaller piece of fabric, also hotter water will aid in a more even dye penitration.

Step 3: Add a Pattern

once you have gotten the desired hue, remove the fabric from the dye and rinse it in cold water until the water runs clear. completely dry the fabric and add whatever pattern you want. if you are in need of inspiration there are ton of options on Google and YouTube. you can simply squert the glue straight onto the fabric like I did in the picture or paint it on with a brush. you can also stencil it on for more precise details. just keep in mind that watever you cover in glue is going to resist further dying and the rest will change. let your glue pattern dry 100% before moving on to the next step.

Step 4: Second Dye

once the pattern is totally dry you can dye the fabric a second color exactly like the first color with the exception of the water temperature, in the first step hot water was optional but now that you have glue on your fabric hot water will ruin the pattern so use only cold water. if you do not want a marbled look on your second color use a large container and agitate the fabric in the dye frequently. once your desired hue has been reached, rinse it out in cold water until the water runs clear, like the first time. if you want to add to the pattern and do a third color, simply repay steps 3 and 4 while touching up any pieces of the original pattern that may have scrubbed off.

Step 5: Finish!

once you have finished your final round of dying give your fabric an extra scrubbing with your final rinse to remove the glue. the final product will only be visible once it dries since some colors are more or less vibrant when wet. when it's dry you can turn it into whatever you want- scarves, dresses, beachwear, or in my case some curtains. wash it by itself the first time or two and then with like colors after that in cold water.

Dyeing for Color Contest

Runner Up in the
Dyeing for Color Contest



    • Pets Challenge

      Pets Challenge
    • Stick It! Contest

      Stick It! Contest
    • Colors of the Rainbow Contest

      Colors of the Rainbow Contest

    We have a be nice policy.
    Please be positive and constructive.




    Hey that is a really cool effect - I tye dye the occasional T-shirt but have only had one really good result - gonna give this a try.
    Nice job

    1 reply

    thank you! I've had a lot of fun with this technique, I hope you do too!

    Fantastic! I thought I was the only one who used Elmer's glue like this! (I do silk painting, and find the glue very convenient - it makes a wider line than gutta, but is cheap, washes out easily, and comes in a bottle with a convenient nozzle.)

    3 replies

    yeah I love it, I could never justify spending the money on a project that I may not like so this is a good way to see if this is something for you. I didn't know you could do it with silk too, though it makes sense!

    It's a little less crisp than gutta or hot wax - you have to pay very close attention to making sure it soaks through the fabric, you can't paint dye across it the way you can with wax, and the dye can sometimes bleed just a tiny bit through - but I like the way it looks, and I keep going back to it, rather than using other materials.

    I've noticed that as well; also sometimes the glue will transfer a little bit to another piece of the fabric and make a kind of faint mirror image of the design, but that usually just adds to the uniqueness I think

    Awesome! Definately trying this!!!

    no, I'm from the US. but I used to live in the Philippines where they also do some batik, though of course it's a little different and not where it originated... I would like to spend time in Indonesia someday

    Very clever, I can't wait to try it. Thank you for sharing :-)