Martha Stewart Living, August 2001
A checked pattern may be created with any size square wood block. Place a sheet of graph paper beneath the white fabric to use as a guide. Apply a grid of waxed squares, making equal-size squares and spaces, and then dip fabric briefly, about 20 seconds, into dye.
Without removing the wax, stamp a second grid of waxed squares that is vertically and horizontally aligned with squares of the first. Immerse fabric in dye for 20 minutes.
The finished piece emerges from the dye, wax still in place. The first dye bath is the key to the checks, creating the pale squares that contrast with the white and dark blocks around them.
Below, squares, rings, and stripes decorate throw pillows. Pillowcases are backed with a second handkerchief dyed the same color: Stitch wrong sides together, turn right side out, stuff with standard-size insert, and sew closed. For the bed pillow, we stamped a diamond pattern on a standard pillowcase.
White-cotton table linens and hand-sewn seat-cushion covers (stuffed with batting) are stippled with dots and rings by using cake-decorating tips and wooden dowels; then they are dyed periwinkle or coffee brown. The 54- inch-square tablecloth is the most ambitious undertaking, requiring a basin large enough to dye the fabric evenly. Circles on graph paper, placed beneath fabric, help maintain the design.
To give a tablecloth and napkin set as a gift, tie it with batik-cotton ribbon; simple twill tape will accept dye, too.
According to Indonesian folklore, certain motifs on traditional batik cloths bring good health. Our improvised patterns -- made with successive impressions of different-size icing tips, blocks, and dowels -- promise only to brighten a tabletop.