How to quilt batik fabrics

I love batiks.  Raise your hand if you love batiks – but hate quilting them.


I’ve heard that they’re rather difficult to quilt.  I haven’t quilted any of my batik tops yet, but at our monthly quilt meeting last weekend, Susan brought a finished batik quilt and told us of her difficulties.


She has a Homesteader, and it kept skipping stitches.  She tried different needles and played with the tension, to no avail.


She turned to the quilting community, and here are the tips she received that worked:

1. Mix 1 part fabric softener with 4 parts water, put in spray bottle, spray generously and quilt it WET.  I can see your eyeballs popping out of your heads!  Susan said this helped, but she still got the occasional skipped stitch.  So she went even further:

2. Spritz silicone spray on top.  Now I hear gasps of shock and horror across the country.  Put your eyeballs back in your head and start breathing normally!  Susan said it worked wonders; after both treatments she had NO more skipped stitches.  The silicone spray washes out.


I’m glad Susan experimented and gave me these tips.  I hope this helps a fellow quilter or two.  Please let me know if you try this and what your results were!


8 thoughts on “How to quilt batik fabrics

  1. What brand of silicone spray did she use? I am just now discovering my pains with quilting batiks is NOT MY MACHINE! Phew!

  2. what brand of silicone spray did she use? I just started trying to quilt a super queen and haven’t been able to get through a quarter of one block without breaking thread and skipping stitches.

  3. She tells me she uses AMS oil. I’m not sure where she purchases it.

    Linda, if you’re getting skipping, you might go up a size in your needle, I recommend a topstitch.

    Hope this helps!

  4. Really, ladies!!!!

    I love, LOVE batik and surely would have wanted to quilt it sooner or later. This heads up is cool, but I am wondering if I am now not anxious about going through the trouble (rolling my eyes).

    I read over at Missouri Star Quilt Forum and am wondering if those gals and guys are having issues with batik?

    Dang, I hope this won’t be my experience if I attempt working with it. The other day I sewed a Bible cover with it = no problem. Apparently quilting is some other deal. I am using a 1925 Singer Hand Crank machine; wonder if that makes a difference in the experience?




  5. Sigh. Completely new to quilting here. Have bought all batiks including backing and was quite full of myself as the fabrics are beautiful! I get how silicone could help the needle slide through more easily — I didn’t realize Batiks were woven more tightly. But please, be specific about what silicone spray to use. I’m going to make a rail fence quilt with small “cheater squares” in the center and was counting on being able to do free-quilting as well as in the ditch. Please don’t dash all my hopes! Give me the name of the silicone spray so I don’t accidentally spray goo all over my quilt! 🙂

    • Hi Susan,
      It’s been so long, I actually can’t remember the name of the spray. You want one made specifically for fabric, so check your local quilt and fabric stores. I know Sullivan’s is one brand name.
      You might test your quilt top first to see if you actually are going to have issues. Not all batiks are the same and you might not have any problems at all!

      • Hi. I guess you skimmed the post. I mad marked difficulties sewing on the Batik. The bobbin thread came throu to the top area. I adjusted the tension and got a birds nest on the underside. Sometimes it skipped many stitches. Or I would be able to pull the top thread out completely, losing all the stitches. I started a seam with backstitching. Then, when I pulled on the fabric to cut the threads, the fabric was gathered. It’s a brand new, barely used machine.

        I found fabric silicone spray on line. When it comes, I’ll test it on scraps and report back.

        • Hi Susan,
          I’m not sure what you mean when you say I skimmed the post. If you’re referring to your original comment, on the contrary, I read it several times. I didn’t see anywhere where you stated you’d already started quilting your top. I saw where you said “I’m going to make a rail fence” so I assumed you hadn’t started yet. Sorry if I misunderstood somehow.

          One of the most common things that causes bird-nesting is not lowering the presser foot (I’ve done that more times than I can count!). Skipping stitches is often caused by moving the quilt too fast, if you’re using a DSM. The type of needle and thread you’re using will also have an impact. I prefer a size 16 or 18 topstitch needle. They are large, but the size will help with the skipping. Topstitch needles have a larger eye and a deeper,longer groove, which lessens friction on the thread.

          There are several other things that could be causing the problems you’re describing, depending on what kind of quilting setup you have. If my tips don’t help at all, you may want to check online forums for your specific machine and quilting setup (frame). Yahoo has a lot of great sewing machine forums with lots of members, I’d recommend starting there.

          Good luck!

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