What was once a symbol of wealth and prestige is today a muse of fashion designers and a beloved of the modern bohemians. Ikat is a complex process of resist dyeing and intricated weaving to produce fabrics with eye-catching hues and patterns. Given its intricacy, Ikat is regarded as: “Poetry of the Loom”.
Warp and weft threads are interspersed in such a manner that the dye colours don’t get mixed. These threads are then fastened on a wooden frame and put for dyeing. Dyeing is followed by intricate weaving on handloom.
The designs have vertical symmetry and the patterns are similar on both sides. The presence of blurry lines is intentional and is one of the unique attributes of the fabric.
The core fabrics used for Ikat are silk and cotton; and the colours used are derived from plants and trees.
It is said that the process dates back over 200 years, yet no one has been able to trace its origin. However, the presence has spanned several countries of Asia. In India there are several states where Ikat is still being crafted.
Types of Ikat
Warp Ikat is the technqiue in which only warp yarns that are dyed using the Ikat technique. The weft yarns are dyed with solid color. Weft Ikat method is more complex than warp ikat. Here, the weft threads are ikat dyed first, and the pattern starts appearing with the weaving process. Double Ikat is a technique in which both warp and the weft are resist-dyed prior to weaving. It is the most difficult to make and the most expensive. The double ikat made in Patan, Gujarat in India is the most complicated. There it is called “Patola”, which is made using fine silk yarns and many colors.
There are several companies and stand-alone studios producing ethnic and contemporary dresses for women using Ikat fabrics. And as you’d expect, fashion designers use these fabrics for bringing to life many of their imaginations. Men aren’t completely left out here, they can expect to get shirts and kurtas produced from Ikat.