Sunday, March 30, 2014

Belajar Membatik: The Art of Batik Making

Have you ever been interested in the art of Batik making? I've been an admirer but never dared myself to try my hands on the Batik making, until recently. I always thought Batik takes ages to complete and requires a lot of techniques that are too complicated to learn. But I found a Batik class nearby my in-laws residence in Cilandak, and decided to sign up. Rumah Jawa Jawi Java, the place where I signed up, is located at Jl. BDN II and is 5 minutes drive from my in-laws'! I can't believe I never noticed the place before, because it is quite prominently located within my everyday route.

In a short, I signed up for the first month. Registration fee is IDR 150.000 and monthly fee is IDR 400.000 for 4 sessions a month. One session takes around 4-5 hours. I don't have to bring anything because they provide all the course materials such as tjanting (a pen-shaped tool used in Batiking), malam (the resist material made from wax), aprons, color-dyes, chemicals, and a piece of white cotton cloth. I don't know if the fee counts as expensive since I didn't try to look for any comparisons,  but since it's nearby and convenient, I think it's the right place to start.

It turns out that Batik making is a lot more enjoyable for me than I thought it would be. It is sooooo addictive that I didn't even notice sitting for hours and hours without drinking anything (bad, bad example I knowww...) and I must say that I love doing it, and I want to share the process with you and whoever reads this blog. Hopefully one day you can try your hands on batiking too, because it's a load of fun! Children starting from the age of 4 and even grandmas around my mother's age (60) can enjoy it too.

So, what is the step-by-step in Batik making?
  1. Copying patterns. To do this, simply put your piece of cloth on top of a pattern (black and white print out is recommended). Pin the cloth to the print out. Then with a pencil, trace the pattern outlines (see pictures). My instructor said some of the most talented batik artists do not have to copy any patterns, they simply draw whatever they want to be envisioned in the piece of cloth just like painting masterpiece. But for a beginner, copying patterns is a good start to practice. I chose 4 classic Javanese patterns that I like to copy: Ceplok Jovo Jotro, Nogo Sajodo, Pakis Taji and Kupu Taman.

  2. Once the pattern is copied, you can start to prepare the wax resist. Melt it until the liquid is in right temperature. It's important to keep the wax in the right temperature during the whole batiking process, because if the wax is too cold they will not stick to the cloth piece and when it's too hot it will be too liquid and easily creates a mess. 
  3. For a beginner, using aprons will help to avoid the wax resist drops messing your favorite jeans!
  4. Dip your tjanting into the wax liquid, make sure not to scoop too much liquid or it will be really messy. Then position your tjanting a little slanted about 45 degree and with your other hand holding the cloth piece, begin to trace the pattern.
  5. Practice makes perfect. The first time I try using the tjanting to trace my practice piece, it was soooo messy. I kept forgetting that the tjanting should be held slightly slanted so it won’t drop literally everywhere, and that it should  be dipped back into the wax every now and then to prevent the wax from getting cold. After the second session, I get used to it and start to enjoy the process. (I forgot to ask someone taking pictures of me batiking because I got too excited. Instead, I take a picture of another student doing her isen-isen (details) to give you a glimpse of the process. 

  6. After the whole cloth is covered with the wax resist, repeat the same process to the other side of the cloth. What differentiates a high quality batik from the so-so quality is the extra effort the artist takes to ensure both sides of the cloth look equally stunning. 
  7. When both sides of the cloth is covered with wax resist, prepare for the dyeing process. Today's batik uses chemical dyes but there are also traditional ways using natural dyes from herbs and fruits to color the cloth. My teacher only taught me the modern ways to color the cloth. Maybe next time I will try the traditional ways. 
  8. Prepare 3 water basins. The first one is filled with water mixed with a chemical substance to 'prepare' the cloth for absorbing the color. The second one is filled with water and mixed with the color 'salt' which acts as the dye. The third basin is filled with just cold water to rinse out excess colorings from the second basin. So first you need to soak the cloth in the first basin. Then soak the cloth in the second basin to bring out the color. Then rinse the cloth in the third basin. Repeat the steps for about 3-4 times to build up the color to your liking. The color is slightly darker when the cloth is wet and will be brighter once the cloth is dry.

  9. The next step is to get rid of the wax resist. You will need to boil the cloth around 4-5 minutes to rinse out the wax from the cloth. At this point your can see the white patterns left from the wax resist. Your batik is pretty much ready to dry.
  10. If you want to add more color to the cloth, dry out the cloth entirely before drawing another coat of wax resist. The second or third color dye are usually darker than the first color, to make it easier to build up the pattern. Alternatively, you can brush in fabric paints to fill in multiple colors to the cloth. But you may need to do some trial-and-errors since not all fabric paints are heat resistant.
  11. Well, my deep red batik cloth is ready! And I'm loving it ;)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tutorial: DIY Personalized Quilted Gift Pouch

Hello hey ho howdy yo. It's been quite a while since the last post I blogged, so please forgive my absence, dear bloggie (I know, I know....I must frikkin' shut up and stop talking to my blog as if it's some kind of a creature).

So being absent from blogging doesn't mean I quit crafting for some time...heck, NO. In fact I have been quite productive, if I may say so, that I just couldn't find the right time to post too many things. I have been preparing some drafts, but then had a hard time deciding which one to publish.

After some self debates, I decided to just go for another easy peasy tutorial.

This is a recent project I made for my very best friend's birthday gift. She loves handmade things, so since this is the first time I ever have a chance to actually create something for her (hey I just started sewing about, let me see, 10 months ago??) this year's birthday gift would be a special one for her.

The thing is, it's almost too easy I was afraid I wouldn't impress anyone with this gift (or tutorial). But I gave it a go, and so should you! Lol.

Here it is.

The Personalized Quilted Printed Pouch. 

sorry, couldn't think of a shorter title--

What you need:
- 2 pieces of outer fabric (size them to your need, here I used 20 x 30cm sizing for the pouch)
- 2 pieces of lining fabric (exactly the same size of your outer fabric)
- 2 pieces of batting (size them just around 1cm smaller than the outer fabric to make it easier to sew)
- a piece of zipper (match the length with your pouch size)
- 2 pieces of 4x4cm fabric for the zipper tab
- Iron-on printer transfer paper (for best result, I used special transfer paper for dark colored t-shirt)
- Personal picture/ quote/ thing/ whatever of your choice


1. First of all, prepare your specially picked personal picture/quote/thing/whatever you choose to print. Honestly, I am not a big fan of things personalized with a full color low quality picture. But in a jiffy, as I couldn't ask much of a high resolution self portrait from my best friend (hey it would ruin the surprise!) I went with an old time profile picture of her on Fb. It has the right amount of lines and shadows for me to crop and threshold using the Photoshop. This way, I could tweak around, put some background and create a totally vintage look that matches my pouch. If you don't have a strikingly awesome picture, please do something about it first before printing and attaching it to your masterpiece pouch. Trust me, just an extra mile does make a lot of difference.

2. Now is the most interesting part of this post. I really don't want to repeat all the tutorial about constructing a zippered pouch because all kinds of cool tutorials about sewing pouches are already out there in the internet (go ahead, google it! :)) so I'm gonna skip some pictures and do the explanations briefly.

3. Prepare your zipper. Cut the zipper if it's longer than your fabric size. To create the zipper tabs, fold the 4x4cm fabric

4. To create a quilted look, simply pin your batting (or press it if you have iron-on batting) to your outer fabric. Then using a walking foot/ roller foot/ teflon foot on your sewing machine, quilt it to your liking. You can copy a quilt template tp your fabric using quilter's erasable pen, but what I did is simply quilting some straight lines following my outer fabric stripes pattern.

5. After you have your quilted outer fabric pieces, we can start constructing the pouch! Align the outer fabric with your zipper, right sides together, and pin. Don't forget to unzip the zipper halfway. Attach a zipper foot to your sewing machine. Begin to sew the zipper as close as possible to your zipper teeth. Stop sewing when you're getting close to the zipper head *you remembered to unzip the zipper halfway, right?* sink your needle down *you need it secured* and lift up the presser of your sewing machine foot. Through the gap between your sewing machine foot and the fabric, slowly zip or unzip the rest of your zipper (whichever is most convenient to get the zipper head out of the way for your needle to move forward). This will enable you to sew a continuous neat line when attaching a zipper. After you have your zipper head out of the way, put down your presser and you can continue sewing smoothly. Repeat the steps to attach the other side of the zipper with the second piece of your outer fabric.

----I don't take any picture for the steps but if you have any problems attaching the zipper, by all means, please google up some zipper tutorial, there are tons of great tutorials you'll love!---

5. Now you need to sew the lining fabrics to the zipper! To do so, align the right side of your lining piece to the wrong side of your zipper. Have any problems sewing linings to a zipper? Let your fingers do the googling once again (I told you I won't bore you with a tutorial that already has like a million existence on the internet! I keep my promise :))

---if you have a label you want to attach to the lining or side tab like mine, now is the right time to align and sew them before we construct the pouch-

6. Pin together the right sides of your lining fabric. Then pin together the right sides of your outer fabric. If you find the zipper tab ends make it too bulky for you to sew, grab a hammer and knock down the bulk a few times until the bulk lays nice and flat. Unzip the zipper halfway. With an erasable marker, mark about 10cm of opening to your lining fabric bottom. This will be your opening to turn the pouch right side out later on. For now, just exclude the 10cm from being sewn.

7. Sew the fabrics right sides together, with around 1cm seam allowance. Try to create an uninterrupted seam line throughout, slow down and take extra care at sewing around the zipper tabs and edges. Remember: leave out the 10cm opening at the bottom of lining fabric!

8. When you're done sewing, clip the square edges ( be careful not to clip the seam). Then through the lining opening, turn the pouch fabric right side out. Smooth the edges using a blunt tool (I use chopstick) from the inside to create a perfect square pouch. Topstitch the lining opening to finish. Tuck your lining inside the pouch and you're pretty much done.

7. Now is the time to cut your personalized printed piece from the transfer paper. Different types of transfer paper requires different instructions on how to apply. Mine needs to be let dry for a couple of minutes after printing, then peeled of from its backing paper after cutting it to desired shape, before ironing it face down to the quilted outer fabric for a couple of minutes. Don't forget to layer up with a piece of fabric when pressing, so that your printed piece won't melt and stick to your iron plate :(
You can choose to iron the picture in the earlier stage of the process. I chose to iron it after the construction is finished, just to make sure everything is aligned and perfect before the pic is added.

Your personalized printed pouch is ready!