Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On Batiks & Bedcovers!

As our bus wound its way up windy roads through small towns busy with decorating for the onset of the Garungan Day holiday, we’d ooh and ahh at market stalls displaying colorful arrays of batik Bedcovers.

Not the patchwork kind you might be thinking ---

These were whole cloth!

When Mawa asked if we would like to see how these are made, we all replied with a resounding YES!

We’d had our own batiking class a couple days before – the memory of the smell of the wax, the understanding of the whole process fresh in our memories. But yet, OUR pieces were small --- what would it be like to work on a bed sized piece?

We went to the home workshop of a family that made such bed coverings. Here the gentleman is showing us a beautiful piece covered with tulips or lilies.

We’d look at this here ((Before having our own batiking experience)) and think – oh …whole cloth. No big deal. But we had new appreciation. Our eyes had been opened.

To get that lovely yellow bedcover front made….the fabric was first marked with a design, and its lines were carefully and expertly covered with a fine line of wax. Then the dye process begins!

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Much like we had done the day before – here is a large bed cover being painted with dye. He is using a dauber brush…and was explaining to us how he can shade the petals by applying water to SOME areas first within the flower, so that when he daubs with the dye, it will run lighter in some areas and darker in others. Notice that the borders will not be pieced, but dyed by hand also. Not vat dyed…hand dyed with the dauber brushes. Oh is it hard to color within the lines!

In the next room over, a young woman was putting another bed covering together. We were asked if we would like to watch her. Oh Yes!

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Oh this looks all so familiar! Pin basting on the floor!

This is also a batik, completely painted by hand. Aren’t the blues gorgeous? Where you so ee white lines is where the wax was boiled away leaving the original color of the fabric to show.

And I had to laugh when I discovered that we pin baste basically the same. backing fabric taped to the floor. Start from the center out ---but the woman was ingenious! She was using rocks as weights on the edges and corners to hold the top layer in place while she worked. She used a roll of fabric to smooth out wrinkles and weigh down the sides. And yes, I wanted to get down on my hands and knees and help her!

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See the rock? :cD

We had a discussion about battings. Yes, this is polyester --- but before you cringe and make a face, I want you to know something. Bali is a very hot and humid country. Bali is only 8 degrees south of the equator.

After spending 8 nights in a wonderful resort, I can tell you that cotton bedding ALWAYS feels damp. Any papers in my room felt damp. My passport which was locked in the room safe ---was curled up and warped by the time we left. Cotton batting does not dry out during the day and it gets musty. Poly batting dries easily so their bedding stays DRY. There is a time and a purpose for everything once you understand why.

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Pinning down to the edges! See how she is using the rolls of backing fabric destined for other backings as weights on the sides!

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I looked around to realize---she was going to sew by TREADLE!

I love this pic…the old treadle heads ---with the offerings tied to the top. Next to the motorcycle helmet, because motorcycles are as plentiful as flies in Bali!

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See what the humidity does over time? This machine’s brand name is “BUTTERFLY” It’s based on a Singer 15!

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The name on the base is SHANGHAI!

((No, this would not fit in my luggage to go home with me ;c))

As she got ready to machine bind, I took a little video:

And then I took another one!

And then the battery on my iphone died! LOL!

I was just so inspired watching her working at her home based business. Free-motion quilting around the motifs in the center of the quilt will be just enough to hold the layers together securely without making the quilt FLAT. These comforters are meant to have loft --they wouldn't understand our need for quilting everything to death as flat as pancakes ;c)

Memories of Bali are still flooding back every time I go through my folders and folders of photos so I think I’ll be posting more about the trip until I run out.

We had the most memorable eye-opening time. I do feel forever-changed by this incredible trip!

And for those of you who don’t want to miss another trip with me….how about coming to Ireland with me in June of 2013? This trip includes the International Quilt Festival of Ireland, and after the festival – a tour of Ireland! It’s going to be an amazing 11 days and you won’t want to be left behind. Come with me! For more info, click the IRELAND 2013 tab at the top of the blog. You can also click HERE for more information, including our itinerary of our plans for each day on the tour. Read it --- Dream it ---and COME WITH ME!


  1. such an interesting why that she does the binding so thick and full and no pins! all guess work that it will end up beautiful. - did she do quilting on the quilt top? or is it just the binding that holds it all together? Maybe she had it already quilted but your video's hadn't covered that part of the process? Thanks so much for sharing your trip with us, I have really enjoyed it.

  2. Anonymous10:03 AM EDT

    All I can say is WOW... your whole trip is WOW... gives me a new appreciation for batiks and the process. I would love to have one of these whole cloth batik bedcovers for my bed... poly batting or not... you can see the love that goes into all the prep work from dwaing to waxing to painting/dabbing... wish I had one ounce of their patience... Thanks so much for sharing your trip with us... almost felt like I was there... well not really, but alomost.


  3. Anonymous10:06 AM EDT

    I can see her basting technique is not far from mine. I have to use the garage floor. Go ahead, shun me! ;) I use my husbands 10 pound weights to keep my layers down because a small wind would blow them edges up and completely put me back at square one.

  4. janice in gastonia10:11 AM EDT

    I really love these videos and pictures. It is amazing how fast a treadle machine can go. Loved the way she quilted the binding. What beautiful fabric. I just love batiks!!

  5. janice in gastonia10:15 AM EDT

    BTW can you buy any of their quilts on line or only if you go there like you did. did they say how much like that blue one would cost? can they be washed or will the dye run?

    1. After thinking about how beautiful the quilts you showed were (I'm partial to blues on any day!) I had the same questions. What would the cost of one quilt be and are they sold only to the locals. What a great trip you had Bonnie. I'm glad you're the type of traveler that appreciates the differences of the people and places of the world!

  6. Hi Bonnie,

    I wathced you quilt last night on your Quilt Cam... I so wanted to quilt also. But my sewing machine needs to be checked out first.

    That Blue Fabric the lady is using in the pictures is so pretty!!!

    So I guess Polyester has it's place. But I still prefer Cotton. Too bad they don't have Bamboo Batting. SO SOFT and breatheable!!!

    ~ Susan

    1. Bamboo would remain DAMP as cotton. It does not dry in the Balinese humidity.

  7. What amazing artists with so little to work with. I love batiks and am enjoying all your photos. I have used poly batting in several of my quilts. I prefer that quilting not be as dense as most people like it. I also like the lighter weight of larger quilts. I grew up sleeping under piles of quilts that didn't allow you to move and don't want that anymore. Thank you for sharing all the beauty of these artists.

  8. Fascinating!
    Did you get a picture of the finished blue top?
    Love how she just casually rolled the back to the front.
    How beautiful :0)

    Happy Sewing

  9. Awesome! Would love to see what came after the binding!What beautiful fabric!

    Aileen in Florida

  10. I love these quilts, my son had one in black & blues with moons & stars. It was fantastic for a kiddos room as it could be dragged around for cubby houses or capes & I could throw it in the wash in the morning get it dry and back on the bed by evening. Great for a Sydney summer. Bliss!!

  11. Beautiful Quilts. Thanks for sharing the video's. It is inspiring to watch people us a treddle machine. Looks like you had an amazing trip. Please keep sharing for all of us that wont get to go to Bali and live thru your travels. janet7435@live.com

  12. This was fascinating, Bonnie. Seeing all of your video clips and photos of the batiking process just blew me away--and now this. Amazing!

  13. Oh, man, those poor machines in that constant humidity. I bet the sewists are very diligent with oiling to keep the inner works running. Like me, it may look a bit worse for the wear, but it can still get the job done!

  14. Oh I LOVE that blue one. I would have had to buy that one and bring it home with me. Thanks.

  15. Thank you so much for showing us the young lady finishing a quilt on a treadle machine. I have been playing around with mine but couldn't quite imagine doing a full sized bed quilt just yet. The process for doing the batiks is so amazing, like all the others, love the blue one.

  16. I actually really like the poofy binding! I know it's not in our "traditional" quilting style... but it sure adds some personality! Would love to wrap up in it!

  17. Simply awesome! And so regretting that I didn't go with you!

  18. Sally K.5:49 PM EDT

    I want one. Really. Must find a way. At the same time, I must find a way to make the trip to Ireland. I think there are a few of us in Aiken mulling it around, so fasten your garters.... What a crew that would be. The pics are just fabulous and the respect for other cultures is what we need to STOP being thought of as "the ugly americans". Well done, friend.

  19. How amazing that must have been to see! I can't immagine it! it is awesome all of your reports! The pics and the movie clips AMAZING!!!!

  20. I live in Papua New Guinea, not far from Bali. We keep our passports in a ziplock bag as they started to get curled and grow mold.

    There is a store near me that sells hand cranked Singers and also the Shanghai Brand that you showed in your post. This is useful for this country as the power often goes out, and many remote villages are not hooked up to the electrical grid.

    Thank you for your posts, it's been fantastic to go on your journey with you.

  21. Is the "skirt" around the three sides of the treadle for "modesity" for the lady sewing or decorative or for some other purpose? Love the videos

  22. Thanks for sharing another glimpse of Bali. The videos are wonderful! I use my old Singer treadle every so often, but I can't make it go and stop the way that she does. Practice = perfect. What a beautiful quilt. I love seeing the different traditions and methods all over the world. My son prefers a puffy quilt too. He doesn't get why many quilts are "quilted to death". I think I agree.

  23. Hi
    What a day u spent there, i would help free of charge in that place just to see all this beauty in one place.

    two questions i have how they remove that wax? and did not mark as crease on the fabrics?


  24. Anonymous1:30 PM EDT

    Great video. Thanks for sharing.


    nikki_moshier at hotmail.com


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