How To: Faux Batik Using Washable Glue

I had tried to make my own batik fabric years ago using the traditional hot wax and dye method. Let’s just say (ouch) it wasn’t pretty. This glue method does take a bit more time with having to wait for the glue to dry, but it’s safe for any age to give it a try.

Finished Glue Batik Fabric
Finished Glue Batik Fabric


Waxed paper

Cardboard for inside of clothes

Fabric or piece of clothing to “batik”

Washable glue

Fabric paint or dye


I have experimented with different types of washable glue:

Worst: Tacky fabric glue has been my least favorite. It did go on nice and thick but the lines shrank when drying so I ended up super thin with barely any distinction between colors. Also, it didn’t soften up nicely like the other glues in water so there was a lot of picking and scrapping to get the glue off the fabric.

Best: Elmer’s Blue Glue. This glue dried super fast in the same shape I squirted onto the fabric so there was no shrinkage of lines. To remove the glue I simply soaked in warm water for about 15 minutes, gently rubbed the fabric and the glue was gone.

Fabric before and after 1st Gluing
Fabric before and after 1st Gluing

In this tutorial the glue I used is white washable glue because I got 4 bottles for a buck at the dollar store. They worked great! There was no line shrinkage but it took over a day for the glue to dry completely and had to soak for a good hour before the glue was soft enough to rub off. But, it was cheap money and it got the job done.

The fabric is actually a skirt that I cut up. It had a broken zipper and torn hem but I really loved the print.

Step 1. Cover your work surface with waxed paper and insert cardboard into clothing. Lay out your fabric or garment and draw your shapes with washable glue onto the pieces. You can make totally random shapes, trace around something, or make an actual drawing. Let dry completely.

painted fabric

Step 2. Paint or dye your clothes and/or fabric. As you can see from my photo on the right, I just randomly splattered and splotched different colors onto my fabric. I used oranges, golds, browns and reds since I’m going for a leaf, summer turns to fall, kind of theme. Let paint dry thoroughly.

Also, since the fabric I used was really thin I torn up a pair of jeans and laid them under the green fabric before painting. I knew the paint would soak through onto the waxed paper and rather than waste that paint, I used the denim to soak it up. The waxed paper is still under the denim fabric to protect my work surface..

Fabric after washing off glue
Fabric after washing off glue

Step 3. Soak the fabric or clothes in warm water to soften the glue. Once the glue is soft, rub to remove the glue from the fabric. Let the fabric dry and then iron to set the fabric paint.

As you can see the fabric, where I squirted the glue, is clearly visible after washing off the glue.  You could be done now or take it to the next level like I did.

glue batik 4I wanted to add some detail to my leaves so I used black fabric paint to outline them. My son Sam told me it looked like green leaves floating in a sea of lava. Since that wasn’t really the look I was going for, I decided to add another layer of glue.

Adding more green leaves
Adding more green leaves

So, I repeated the gluing process. Making more leaf shapes over deep red and gold splotches Then once the glue was dried I added some more green leaves.

I let the paint dry, again. Soaked the pieces in warm water, again. Dried and ironed, again. Then added the fine details in black. I supposed I could have just left the fabric as is without the black as traditional batik is done. But, I like the look of bold black lines.


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