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Easy Batik

Martha Stewart Living, August 2006

Bleach is usually off-limits where colored fabric is concerned, but this decorative application gets our full approval. Using a bleach pen, we created the look of batik (a type of patterned Indonesian textile) on a blue runner and napkins for a coordinated table setting. Try this technique on pillowcases, curtains, and even canvas tote bags.


Fit a gel bleach pen (available at grocery stores) with a 1/2-millimeter, stainless steel tip. We hemmed cotton canvas -- natural fibers work best -- into 16-inch square napkins and a 12-inch-wide runner, but store-bought linens will do.


Test a discreet area to make sure the fabric reacts well to the bleach.


Use a water-soluble dressmaker's pencil to mark a grid on the fabric; where the lines intersect, create a 2-inch square, as pictured.


With the bleach pen, draw a freehand flower within each square and add dotted lines between flowers. (Or download the template.) Let the bleach set until the pattern has faded to the desired shade, about 20 minutes.


To rinse, lay the fabric flat in a shallow pan of cold water; let stand for a few minutes (work in sections for the runner).


Jacquard 1/2 mm stainless steel applicator tip, from New York Central Art Supply,

Comments (36)

  • dgwittekind 3 Jul, 2012

    Try this website :

  • AnnieN1980 12 Aug, 2010

    Clorox offers a gel bleach pen...I've purchased them at the grocery store, target and I'm sure walmart would carry it as well. :)
    Here's a link to some on

  • pmelros 12 Aug, 2010

    She says a" bleach pen available at grocery stores", such as Clorox makes, the one from tide is an stain remover not a bleach pen.

  • KaterTot 13 Jul, 2010

    When Martha said bleach pen, I ASSUMED she meant the Tide bleach "pen" type of stain remover that you can carry in your purse........NOW, I am assuming that it is a special type of pen used for bleaching in crafts, sold at Michael's, etc.??\\Can anyone confirm this?? Maybe a brand name?

  • SarahES 7 Jul, 2009

    i seen some are available on eBay too. hope this helps :)

  • Noleladybug 1 Sep, 2008

    Thanks to those that gave great ideas and suggestions...still trying to work on this project :)

  • Sionann 29 Aug, 2008

    Once you figured out the best technique for you....the possibilities are endless with this idea. I could see doing the same design on a red cloth for Christmas. Kind of a snowflake effect.

  • stamprmama 27 Aug, 2008

    A source for the tip shows up on the Print version of the directions: Jacquard 1/2 mm stainless steel applicator tip, from New York Central Art Supply,

  • zoeylynn 26 Aug, 2008

    Where do I obtain the 1/2 milimeter stainless steal tip?

  • sleepytimegal 26 Aug, 2008

    We used this technique (aswell as Q-Tips dipped in bleach) to customize black tee shirts in my art class. The bleached out tone depended on the components of the various black dyes used in the garments the students brough to class.
    I got the idea from a photo I saw of a signaling flag made by a Katrina survivor using a bright yellow tee shirt and bleach.

  • Ldybugsrus 26 Aug, 2008

    Ooh! I love the idea of a light fabric with a dark marker. you know if you don't want to use bleach you could use a white fabric marker. the kind for painting embrodery on like a dish towel. Also I just realized if you use bleach wear old clothes in case you get the bleach on you.

  • Ldybugsrus 26 Aug, 2008

    If you buy table cloth wash it (no fabric softner) to remove the sizing so the bleach doesn't run, it must be a Gel bleach pen the other kind will run. the stainless steel tips can be purchased at Joanns fabric and crafts or Michaels in the paint section. Mine are the Donna Dewberry brand and came with plastic tops for putting on the paint bottles. the tips have screw threads which will easily screw on to the Gel bleach pens. if you use a cake decorating tip the bleach will oose out.

  • terivanhecke 26 Aug, 2008

    With the right fitting tip, couldn't you do any design or monogram? I guess trial and error are the best teachers, huh?

  • angiekat29 26 Aug, 2008

    michelle, i am not sure a syringe will work because you would not have as much control of the amount of pressure that is applied as you would a pen type device. I would imagine anything that has a small opening and allows you to apply soft pressure would work. For instance, empty glue bottles, empty fabric paint containers etc. I can't wait to try this craft! Martha rules!

  • Allycat659 26 Aug, 2008

    Disregard my post of one minute ago...Joanw must have been typing at the same time I was! Thanks for the info Joan but it doesn't seem like it works very well since your results bled, as did the only other person who tried it. Perhaps I'll wait to see if anyone else has had better luck and find out their secret...It looks real cute on her website but if it can't be duplicated I think I'll pass...

  • Allycat659 26 Aug, 2008

    Again, where do you get the tip for ths? Nobody has ever answered, yet this was sent out today (8-26-08) as the "idea of the day". It's obviously been around for awhile - why wouldn't someone at Martha Stewart read the comments and reply to them before re-sending this idea??? What type of tip is this and where do you get it?

  • joanw 26 Aug, 2008

    The stainless steel tip is the kind used in silk or other fabric painting. Check Dharma online for fabric dyes, etc. When I tried this it bled so I have a fuzzy effect - not very attractive. I would guess it depends on fabric used.

  • stellrchef 26 Aug, 2008

    Noleladybug - Did you use liquid bleach pen or were you sure to get the gel type?

  • bittyro 26 Aug, 2008

    This project needs a video and directions that are more specific so the technique can be more fully understood.

  • karey 26 Aug, 2008

    Love this hint.
    1 - Don't think syringe would work as no way to make amount of bleach uniform for same size dots. Besides, where would we find bleach GEL?
    2 - My Clorox bleach pen has tiny tip on one end (other blunt brushy for larger areas), so I think could do this without stainless tip. If I am wrong, I also want to know where to get these tips.

  • cookiesgalore 26 Aug, 2008

    It would be nice if they could tell us "where" to get a stainless steel tip that fits "exactly" on those bleach pens. Also, it states: "To rinse, lay the fabric flat in a shallow pan of cold water; let stand for a few minutes"
    --I would also add 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the rinse water,
    since vinegar neutralizes bleach (makes it inert).

  • lizzycat 26 Aug, 2008

    I was wondering what kind ofstainless tip do you use and where do I buy one? Also, are any of these comments or questions ever answered and if so, where?
    Thank you. P.S. Love your cookie recipe and craft projects!!


  • smmanns 26 Aug, 2008

    Frequently your directions leave out important information. It seems that if a special tool is used to modify a store bought item, more information about what that is and where to get it would be a necessity in the instructions.

    The crisp patterns that are chacteristic of traditional batik are created by the wax resist that is use to keep the bleach from bleeding. Without that type of preparation the effect will not be the same. Gel bleach as opposed to liquid bleach whould minimize but not prevent the bleeding.

  • smoody 26 Aug, 2008

    I'm wondering the same thing about what kind of stainless steel tip to use and where to buy it.

  • Lil-Martita 26 Aug, 2008

    Would the reverse work? White fabric, with a fine tip permanent pen?

  • Lil-Martita 26 Aug, 2008

    Would the reverse work? White fabric, with a fine tip permanent pen?

  • KaterTot 26 Aug, 2008

    DEFINITELY need to know where to buy, and HOW to attach this tip to a store bought bleach pen! I have no idea! I find it hard to believe a tip we buy will fit a store bought bleach pen.

    That may be why Noleladybug's blead too much.

  • Anna_Marie 26 Aug, 2008

    Yes...the stainless steel tip would be the key to doing this project....too bad the instructions didn't include more info on where to find one and how to "fit" it on the bleach pen.

  • traceyhansen 26 Aug, 2008

    More info on the stainless steel tip and how to fit it to the pen would be great (and pretty much the key to this project!)

  • skyyobx 26 Aug, 2008

    "Fit a gel bleach pen (available at grocery stores) with a 1/2-millimeter, stainless steel tip. "
    Where do you get this and how do you fit it?

  • michellewash 4 Jul, 2008

    I am wondering if you can use a syringe and get the same effect?

  • Noleladybug 26 Jun, 2008

    I would love to know if anyone has tried this. I did, but it looks like the bleach ran I didn't know if it was the type of linen I used or something else I did. Or if this is what always happens :) Thanks!

  • Zoila 16 Jun, 2008

    What kind of stainless tip do I use? Where can I buy it?

  • Zoila 16 Jun, 2008

    What kind of stainless tip do I use? Where can I buy it?

  • marilynmoore 5 Jun, 2008

    I would also like to know what type of tip is the 1/2 mm stainless steel tip, some type of painting or ink tip?

  • surfotter 27 Feb, 2008

    The stainless steel tip is this a cake decorating tip?