DIY Batik Linens

May 14, 2014

Every other week, Anna Hezel talks about the innovations, decorations, and other quiet touches that make a party memorable.

Today: A quick and easy way to create your own batik prints.

Shop the Story

Summer's drawing nigh, and it's getting to be time to pull out the old picnic blankets, summery tablecloths, and cocktail napkins. If you're like me, you might feel like some of your linens need a little spring makeover before they start showing up at parties and picnics. If this is the case, give my new favorite summer craft a shot: bleach pen batik.

Batik is a method of dying fabrics in which you create patterns on a white cloth using melted wax, and then dye the fabric so that the spots covered in wax remain white. My method, which uses a bleach pen, is a much shorter and easier process, but it has a similar effect.

Since there's no way to undo bleaching, I like to sketch out my patterns on the cloth before applying the bleach, using a white eyeliner pencil. This costs about 99 cents at a drug store, and it washes away easily after you've applied the bleach.

Before you begin, it's also a good idea to test out the bleach's effect on the fabric you're using by adding a small dot of it in a discreet place. Take a look at how much or how little the bleach changes the fabric's color and how much it bleeds, and then you can factor this into your design.


- Tablecloth, dish towel, or cloth napkins
- Bleach pen, like this one (available at most grocery stores and pharmacies)
- A .5 mm pen tip
- White eyeliner pencil
- Ruler


Lay your cloth out on a flat surface, and use the white eyeliner pencil to sketch out your pattern. For a simple, foolproof design, try skinny stripes, dotted lines, and polka dots.

Now add the pen tip to the tip of the bleach pen and trace the pattern you've drawn. If the fabric is thin, you may want to lay it over some cardboard or newspaper so that the bleach doesn't soak through to the surface underneath.

Once the bleach has been applied, allow it to set for one hour. Soak the fabric in cold water for about five minutes, then rinse, and let it dry.

Photos by Anna Hezel

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Libby Dodd
    Libby Dodd
  • Anna Hezel
    Anna Hezel
Anna Hezel

Written by: Anna Hezel


Libby D. May 25, 2014
Ah, a craft store. perfect. Thanks
Libby D. May 20, 2014
Where does one get the pen tip?
Anna H. May 25, 2014
Easy to find at any craft store—found mine at Dick Blick!