Who wants to ’fess up to having an exotic, lush, gorgeous, and hefty stash of batiks—that you’ve barely cut into? If you’re like me, the striking colors and unusual textures of batiks grab you at the quilt shop and won’t let go…so you bring the lovely stacks home. But once they’re nestled all snug in your stash, they seem too beautiful (or too bright, or too bewildering) to commit to a quilt.
To understand how to use batiks for quilting, you’ve got to talk to someone who has a zealous passion for them. And author Cheryl Brown has loved batiks ever since she made her first quilt—with batiks!
Cheryl’s first quilt, made in the early ’90s. Hand quilted, no less. Look at those stitches. Impressive for a first-timer!
I had the opportunity to visit Cheryl at her home in Centerville, Utah, to talk with her about her new book, Quilt Batik! In it, Cheryl presents quilt patterns for batiks that are simple to sew, making it easy to finally use your batiks for quilting—not just for decoration!
As a quilter with a substantial batik stash, I asked Cheryl a question that you may be wishing to ask her as well: when it comes to batik designs, how do you decide what goes with what? She was very kind to let me videotape her on the spot demonstrating just that! This quick how-to video gives a glimpse into the process Cheryl uses for choosing batik fabrics, starting with a multicolored print.
She makes it look easy—and truly, it is! Choosing one multicolored print to start with gives you a strong foundation to build on. Cheryl used this technique to choose the fabrics for her quilt “September.”
Colorways are another element Cheryl relies on when creating batik designs. She’s created a dozen quilt patterns for batiks in several colorways, and in Quilt Batik!, she shows you how you can do it too.
The first colorway Cheryl covers is her favorite—brights.
These batiks are characterized by vibrant saturations of color and can range from lime green to hot pink, as Cheryl shows in “Power to the People.”
Closely related to brights are jewel tones.
These colors have strong saturation and are characterized by deep purples, blues, greens, and reds. This colorway is used in “Paradise Winds.”
Earth tones are darker, more muted, and less saturated with color.
Categorize browns, tans, dark greens, and muted yellows in this group. This colorway is featured in “Purple Daze,” mixed in with jewel-toned batiks.
Pastels make up another colorway.
These batiks have light saturations and values. They include soft pinks, yellows, greens, and light violets, as you can see in “Pastelmania.”
A number of specialty batiks incorporate different methods of creating dye-resist areas on fabric. Striped batiks are one example.
Stripes add a lot of interest and make great borders and bindings, too. Cheryl used a vivacious stripe for the outer border in the quilt “Tangerine Summers.”
Finally, you’ll find batiks that are made as specialty prints.
The photo above includes batiks with animal themes, Christmas themes, and even themes related to Alaska (thanks to Cheryl’s sister-in-law, who found them while on vacation in that state). Cheryl used a fun batik printed with Christmas trees in the quilt “Winter Stars.”
Starting to get a few ideas for using your batik stash? (Suddenly, I have too many ideas and not enough batiks!)
In addition to strategies for using batiks, Cheryl’s quilts feature quick, easy piecing (many beginner friendly!) and the thoughtful details that her designs are known for. (See quilts from Cheryl’s first book for more of her surprising touches.)
My visit with this talented designer was both fun and enlightening—thanks for being such a gracious host, Cheryl! As a bonus, I got to meet the two newest members of the Brown family: Zinger and Twinkie.
There’s something so sweet about seeing a kitten sleeping on a quilt. Twinkie, you stole my heart!
Share your batik story in the comments and you’ll be entered to win a copy of the Quilt Batik! eBook. We’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you’ve won. (You can also purchase Cheryl’s book here and download the eBook for free right away.) Good luck!
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Thanks to all who entered the drawing! The randomly chosen winner is Sheila, who said:
“I love batiks and have quite a collection of them. Right now I am making a Radiant Star quilt using blue and green batiks. I would really enjoy winning this book. Thank you for the opportunity.”
Sheila, we’ll email you about your free eBook. Congratulations!