Introduction: Batik "Potato Masher" Duvet Cover

About: Hello my name is Jennifer Douglas and I have been a textile artist for the last 25 years since graduating from West Surrey College of Art and Design. I specialise in making and teaching silkpainting and batik …

I thought it might be fun to push the potato masher theme a little further and found by playing around with a variety of different patterns a whole host of flower shapes could be possible. This year I've planted lots of flowers in the garden and they are a great inspiration, so the two have sort of merged in this project.

I like making practical things for the home and enjoy sewing so the idea of a duvet cover appealed and it would go well in the bedroom with the Batik Potato Masher Blind Project!

Step 1: What You Will Need

I'm a great believer in recycling where you can and I have a great source of second hand, good quality sheets from a local dry cleaners.

The potato mashers have been sourced from charity shops,car boots and simply gifted!

The wax is a mixture of paraffin and beeswax, which will give more protection from the dye than solely paraffin.

You will need a wax heater, this flatbed ex. frying pan is great as it suits the potato masher printing and is thermostatically controlled.

Card or old cereal packaging (to cut up for masking wax in the centre of the flowers).

Step 2: Get Mashing!

I soon found that by experimenting with different types of masher patterns together, interesting flower shapes started to emerge.I used a few carefully cut card templates to protect the centres of the flowers whilst I printed the outer petals.It was also wise to place a sheet of newspaper over the fabric to protect from wayward drips!

Step 3: A Few More Masher Patterns!

As you can see I had fun creating different flower shapes, inspired by these growing in my garden.

Step 4: Preparing the Indigo Vat

I love using this dye, it's easy to make in a bucket and lasts for a good bit of dyeing.

I'm using Indigo Vat Grains and Sodium Hydrosulphite ( or you could use Spectralite, which is the same,just more expensive) also salt, and caustic soda.( Kemtex Educational Supplies Ltd) , is a good source for the indigo and sodium hydrosulphite if you live in the UK.

You will need to find a bucket with lid, a pair of rubber gloves.

Please have a look at "Batik Potato Masher Blind" instructable for the complete recipe and method of making an indigo vat .It's a bit of measuring out, but basically try not to allow any air into the vat as you stir as this weakens the effect of the indigo.Take you time and stir slowly!

Once made leave for a couple of hours before using.

Step 5: Dyeing With Indigo

Have all your washing line, pegs and bucket of water for wetting out ready, then pass each piece of fabric through the cold water before dyeing as this will open the fibres and allow the fabric to take the dye more readily

Enter the fabric slowly into the vat of indigo and hold for 10/20 seconds, further dips will deepen the shade.

Hang on a washing line and watch the colour change from green to blue, the indigo oxidizes when it hits the air.

It's important not to let the fabric twist on itself as this can make the dyeing uneven, quite hard to do on a windy day! Also don't wear your best outfit or good shoes, I got well splatted!

Step 6: Secondary Waxing

After the fabric strips were dry I thought it might add something to the designs if I rewaxed certain areas to capture this stage of blue.The photos show me applying wax with a brush to the centres and petals of each design .I'm using a different wax pot as this one is easier for applying the wax with a brush, but the flat pan would be fine.

Step 7: After Re Dyeing Leave to Dry

These photos show the fabric after I repeated the dipping in the indigo, but this time I held in in for longer, counting in my head for 30/40 seconds.

There is a wonderful metallic sheen on the fabric as it drys at this stage and I often worry that my design has totally disappeared. It's hard to be patient, but I remember my teacher from college days who worked a lot with indigo saying," be patient and try and leave it to dry for as long as possible".

Step 8: Patience Is a Virtue!

Needless to say I couldn't wait to take a peak at just a few of the fabrics, just to make sure it had all worked to plan!

Here you can see the whites have indeed come back strongly and a subtle lighter blue,where I rewaxed, is just about visible.

I left them out all night and loved seeing the blue and white patterns on the washing line in the morning.

Step 9: Getting Rid of the Wax!

Ok, in the past I have spent a lot of time ironing fabric between many sheets of newspaper, but this time I just used the "Shock It Out Method" and I'm glad to say after quite a few boiling kettles it all came out very easily.

First fill you kettle and boil.

Place fabric in a bucket and add to this a squirt of washing up liquid and a tablespoon of soda crystals.

Then add boiling water to this and agitate for about 30 seconds with the wooden tongs or a stick.

I found those old wooden tongs great for this and for lifting the fabric out and placing it in a cold bucket of water. This has the effect of "shocking" the rest of the wax out of the fabric. I washed each strip in cool water until the water ran clear.

Step 10: Arranging the Strips and Sewing Them Up!

Firstly I ironed each strip and spent the best part of an afternoon deliberating on the order of my flowery patterns. I had designed narrower strips to alternate with the wider ones and then I realised there would have to be a bit of trimming necessary and which flowers would need chopping out!

I tried the strips of fabric on the bed in both directs and eventually thought my original vision for them should be lengthways as this looked more aesthetically pleasing!

I would recommend cutting the exact duvet size for your project from the start and working out the placement of flowers if that matters to you! Otherwise like me you'll be faced with cutting some flowers in half!

So when happy with the placement of strips, I began to sew them together on the sewing machine with a 1cm seam which I pressed with the iron as I went along.The last photo shows all the strips sewn up, ready for the border and backing fabric.

I'm planning to use a plain white backing to keep things simple,as the pattern is bold enough.

Step 11: Making Tie-Dye Border

Looking at the sewn up strips I decided they needed a border to complete the edges. Tie-dyeing works so well with the indigo vat, so it made sense to cut 4 narrow strips of the same cotton and experiment!

So I folded each narrow strip (9cm wide) in a concertina fashion, securing tightly with an elastic band. This was then lowered into the indigo vat and held under for approx. 30 seconds and hung up to dry completely.

The following day I unwrapped these small blue parcels to find these attractive striped patterns which I hope will finish off my edges nicely.

Step 12: Sewing on the Border and Backing Fabric

After a bit of furniture removing, I found a large clean floor space to lay out the duvet cover.

Then I laid out the tie-dye strips around the edges of the front cover to see how they looked. Pinned them into place and machined stitched into position.

I needed a 7cm border to make the whole project fit my 200x200cm double duvet

I pressed each seam with the iron on all 4 sides, the final photo shows the end result hanging on the washing line before the backing gets stitched on. I Love the way the light makes the batik fabric come alive, I feel future projects will probably have to utilize this special feature more.

I then used another splendid sheet from my local dry cleaners (£2.00!) for the backing and laid out the front cover and border on top of this ready to cut to size and pin and sew up.( It's easy to say that last sentence,but it seemed to take forever crawling all over the floor trying to wrestle with two rather large cotton sheets, but worth the time getting it all in the right position for the last bit of sewing up.

Once it all appeared to lie flat I pinned and machine stitched with right sides together, leaving an opening at one end for the duvet to pop in !

Then turned it the right way out and finally pressed all outer edges and Tah Dah!!!!!!

Step 13: The Batik "Potato Masher" Duvet Cover

We've had such a lovely sunny week here in the UK, perfect for a bit of indigo dyeing out in the garden, where it doesn't matter about the smell or mess this sort of project creates.I seem to love this process, creating something unique out of simple ingredients which can add something beautiful to the home :)

I hope you have enjoyed this project and that it may inspire you to create something special for your home.

Step 14:

Bedroom Contest

Fourth Prize in the
Bedroom Contest

Unusual Uses Challenge

Participated in the
Unusual Uses Challenge