The Basic Technique of Tie Dying and Batik

Photo by Stephen on Unsplash

Batik and Tie Dying is “probably the oldest and most primitive methods of printing designs on fabric” (Young, 1872, p.203). These two types of dyeing are related because they both imply methods that cause some of the fabric to not absorb the dye; this is known as resistance dying, and it is a fun and easy project that anyone can do at home with little money required. Here are the basic instructions for both tie dying and batik. Have fun and remember to experiment!

Tie dyeing is a method that requires folding or scrunching the material into a pattern and securing it with rubber bands. The dye is then applied to the fabric. When the rubber bands are removed the areas that are scrunched up will be without color. This method is a lot of fun for people of all ages, and it was very popular in the 60’s and 70’s. Remember the fabric can be folded in different ways to create different patterns. It can also be twisted in a spiral to create a spiral. Tie dying is a fun way to experiment with negative space, and it can be done cheaply and easily at home.

Batik is a slightly more complicated method of “resistance dyeing” that I am very interested in (Young, 1972, p. 204). Batik requires the use of wax to block dye from reaching the fabric. When using a brush to apply wax the “wax should be applied hot enough so that it will penetrate the cloth fairly evenly and not just spread out over the surface of the fabric in a crust or the dye will seep through it” (Young, 1972, p. 208). Next dye the fabric in a cold water dye and hang to dry. In order to remove the wax, “cover your ironing board with newspaper and, while the piece is still slightly damp, lay it on the ironing board, put a layer of newspaper over it, and begin to iron very carefully” (Young, 1972, p.209). Continue to change newspapers and keep your iron hot enough to melt the wax. When no more wax seems to be coming out on the newspaper submerge the fabric into a pot of boiling water; this will remove the last bits of wax (Young, 1972). The fun part about batik is that you can repeat the process over and over until you have many layers of color.

Both of these methods of resistance are a lot of fun, and they can be done easily in the comfort of your own home so find some old clothes and revamp them with these techniques!


Young, J. (1972). Woodstock craftsman manual. New York, NY: Praeger Publishers.

Originally published at



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store