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Faux Batik -- Made with Glue!

May 1, 2013

I've seen many tutorials for this technique popping up online. The idea is that you use blue gel glue as a resist to draw designs on fabric. But it seems like all the how-tos I've seen use acrylic paint in lieu of dye. I have really been wanting to play with some of our iDye colors, so I thought I'd give this technique a whirl and go for dye instead of acrylics. And I played with a T-shirt, of course!

To start with, I wrapped a firm board with plastic. Mine's just a backing board from a scribble pad. I just slid this board into my shirt under the area where I wanted to "draw" my design.


I decided to use a stencil for my project, because my free-hand drawing is usually nothing to write home about. Several years ago, I bought a set of princess stencils that's been sitting in my sewing room waiting for a project ever since. This seemed like a good time to pull them out.

Once I got Snow White arranged over the area on my shirt I wanted to decorate, I started applying glue. I was pretty generous with my glue layer here.


I left the stencil in place for the first eight hours of dry time. I didn't want to mess up the design pulling it off.

4-glue-batik.jpgIn total, it took more than 24 hours for all my glue to set -- much longer than I had anticipated! (Even though I had read in other people's project descriptions that it took a long time to dry, I think I somehow thought my house was a magical place where dry time would be reduced.)

Once the glue was absolutely, completely dry, I layered an empty trash bag inside of it and set it on top of another trash bag in my tub to prep for color. I am lucky enough to have a tub set aside for dye projects -- you could also do this outside on a table, or in any space that's well-protected. I put the plastic bag inside the shirt so that the dye that I apply to the back side of the shit wouldn't prematurely dissolve my glue design.

5-glue-batik.jpgThen came the messy (read: FUN) part! The iDye products are unique in that you don't have to pour out pigment powder into water -- you throw the whole packet in, and it dissolves. I put the packet directly into a squirt bottle with warm water and shook it vigorously for a bit. This worked like a charm, but it was the last project that water bottle will ever see. I tossed it after this.

Then, I squirted away! I like a little bit of splatter and uneven finish, so I didn't make any effort to smooth out my color. I flipped the shirt over after an hour or so of dry time and did the back. My tub looked like carnage city after this, but it cleaned up nicely.

6-glue-batik.jpgI gave the shirt about six hours to dry. After that, I hand rinsed it in the tub to get the first batch of pigment out, and once the water was running a pale pink instead of fuschia, I tossed it in the washer for a regular cycle and then (after checking that all the glue had been washed away), it went right into the dryer.

The end result makes me want to do more projects with this technique! It's super fun (great for working with kids) and really opens up some creative possibilities. You could create watercolor blends by using multiple colors of different dye concentrations, or add in additional embellishments like rhinestones or embroidery.


Since my stencil wasn't super detailed, Snow White isn't a delicate, finely-lined design. I'm not sure that I could get a whole lot more detailed with this technique, but that speaks more to my sloppy drawing hand than the possibilities. And I can't WAIT to try this on fabrics to incorporate into other projects. Remember, iDye comes in a formula for natural fibers (I used that one for my 100% cotton T-shirt) and a formula for synthetics, so you can try this on almost anything.

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This page contains a single entry by Holly Frey published on May 1, 2013 11:15 PM.

Ruffle Knit Wristlet was the previous entry in this blog.

Crochet Fringe is the next entry in this blog.

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