A fine, semi-sheer plain-weave fabric, usually cotton or cotton blend.
With its soft hand and smooth, lustrous surface, batiste is usable as fashion fabric or as a lining or interlining inside a garment. It is a plain- weave, opaque fabric that is very lightweight and has a good drape.
Originally made of flax, today's batiste may be made of 100% cotton or a blend of cotton and synthetic, cambric, wool, or silk. Wool batiste is lighter than wool challis, and is similar to veiling. Silk batiste is sheer and either plain or figured, similar to silk mull; it is called "batiste de soie."
Cotton batiste is similar in weight to lawn or organdy, with batiste being softer. All three fabrics are made from the same greige goods; it is the finishing that produces the softness of batiste and the crisp hand of organdy.
Use batiste for baby items, women's summer garments, handkerchiefs, lingerie, and heirloom sewing. It makes a fine underlining or interlining.
Batiste gets its name from Jean Baptiste, a French linen weaver from Cambrai.
The ladies of Napoleon's court wore dresses of white batiste even in winter to show off their physical attributes. This is thought to be one reason the mortality rate from pneumonia and consumption of young women during this era was so high.
Tips & Tricks
To preserve batiste, pre-wash the fabric by hand, using a gentle soap. Launder finished items in the same manner.
Use a straight-stitch foot and plate on the sewing machine to support the fabric.
Sew with a lightweight thread and a 60/8 or 65/9 needle.
French seams make a clean and attractive finish for batiste.