You Made That Outta What? A Comprehensive Guide to Fabric – Part 5 Ikat


Who’s there?


Ikat who?

Ikat’s got your tongue or do you have no clue what Ikat is?

Ikat has gained in popularity over the years with designers. While many people think Ikat refers to a design or pattern, it’s actually a process. Read on to find out more!


Great time lapse video of an Ikat artisan at work

It’s super easy to be fooled by what looks like Ikat. The clue is not in the design. While there are designs that traditional Ikat weavers make, you have to look at the cloth itself to uncover the real McCoy.

Ikat is a process more than it is a pattern. Truth is, any pattern could theoretically be produced as an Ikat. The word ikat  means to tie. And as we’ll learn, that’s the secret. Like a Jacquard, Ikat’s secret lies in the warp thread (okay, here’s our favorite

image…study carefully, I don’t want to repeat this again!)

The warp thread, customarily carries the pattern. I can’t even imagine how labor intensive this entire process actually is! The weft weaves in between holding warp fibers together.

Ikat can be found across many cultures. But the process is the same. Just like tye-die, the yarn is protected in specific parts by applying a resist such as rubber bands or tying off. The individual bundles are then dyed, possibly multiple times. The yarn is then used in the warp, sometimes the weft, and occasionally both. A double or compound method is the most complicated and creates beautiful, intricate patterns. In any case, Ikat is slow, painstaking work that requires a skilled, master weaver to produce.

Sadly, due to its popularity, Ikat has been copied and passed off as authentic by creating a faux or fake version using a printed process. Even printing on the reverse side and blurring the image has seen many a traveler believing their good fortune by finding original piece of textile art, duped. Ikat, unlike its printed doppelganger, has a specific look and feel. When you turn it over, it will have a reverse image due to the dyed warp threads and patterns in the selvage will be apparent. If it’s solid on the back, it’s not a true Ikat. It’s a wanna be.

I love the look of true Ikat. Ikat is available in a range of weights and textures from fine weaves to heavyweight textures. If you’re decorating with Ikat, be prepared to pattern match!  Today’s commercial production while not an artisan’s product, still produces stunning patterns and textures. So enjoy Ikat both for its beauty and its culture. What a great way to add a unique decorative flair to your space!

Sew n’ piece my friends!

Newberg Wetrock Ikat Stripe
Stripe Ikat Malachite
Static Ebony Ikat Stripe