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Wax Prints

These colorful textiles have a diverse history and design potential

Threads #202, Apr./May 2019
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The vibrant, complex motifs of wax prints are only one aspect of what makes them desirable. These beautiful textiles are created with tightly woven, 45-inch-wide, 100 percent cotton cloth and dyed through a wax resist method. Because of the tight weave, they are stable and won’t shift while you sew. In addition, the dyeing process creates saturated color and crisp details on both sides of the textile, resulting in a fabric that has no “wrong side.” It most often comes in continuous 6-yard cuts, though it can be found in 2-, 4-, and 12-yard cuts as well. It retains a wax coating if pretreated without heat, giving it a stiff hand.

Although frequently referred to as African wax print, this textile originally hails from the Netherlands. In 1846, several Dutch entrepreneurs, including Pieter Fentener van Vlissingen, were looking to break into the lucrative Indonesian batik market with a new, automated…

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