What is Ikat: Ikat Fabric, Dyeing techniques, Origins, and Weaving Designs

Ikat Fabrics

Ikat is one of the traditional arts and techniques that is used as a combination of tie & dye and weaving fabrics using dyed yarns. A technique used to create a distinct style of textile patterns. Pochampalli fabric is an example of Ikat fabric.

This article covers the following topics.

· What is Ikat Fabric?
· Dyeing method of yarns in ikat
· Preparation of wart/weft for weaving
· Different types of weaving designs used in making ikat fabric.

What is Ikat?

Ikat fabric is a textile traditionally woven in India, Indonesia, and several other Southeast Asian countries. The term "ikat" refers to the dyeing and weaving technique used to create the fabric.

In ikat weaving, the threads are tie-dyed before they are woven into the fabric. This creates a unique pattern that is characterized by blurred or feathered edges. The result is a fabric with a distinctive, slightly blurred pattern that has a slightly "bohemian" or "ethnic" look.

Ikat fabric can be made from a variety of fibers, including silk, cotton, and wool. The patterns and colors used in ikat fabrics can vary widely, depending on the traditions and customs of the particular region where the fabric is produced.

Ikat fabrics are used to make a wide range of products, including clothing, home decor items such as curtains and upholstery, and accessories like bags and scarves. The unique, handmade quality of ikat fabrics has made them a popular choice for people who appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship of traditional textiles.

Ikat is a type of fabric that is known for its distinctive patterns created by dyeing the yarns before they are woven into the final fabric. There are different methods of dyeing ikat fabric, but the basic process involves binding and resisting parts of the yarn to create a design.

Yarn dyeing method for ikat fabrics

Here is a general overview of the dyeing method for Ikat fabric:

1. Preparing the yarn: 
The first step is to prepare the yarn that will be used for weaving. The yarn is typically made from natural fibers such as cotton, silk, or wool. The yarn is washed and dried before dyeing to remove any impurities or oils.

2. Marking the design: 
The design for the ikkat fabric is usually marked onto the yarn using a pencil or other marking tool. The design can be simple or complex, depending on the desired outcome.

3. Binding the yarn: 
The next step is to bind or tie the parts of the yarn that will resist the dye. This is typically done using a material such as wax, thread, or plastic. The binding material is wrapped tightly around the yarn in the areas that should not absorb the dye.

4. Dyeing the yarn: 
The yarn is then immersed in a dye bath. The dye adheres to the exposed areas of the yarn, creating the desired pattern. The yarn may be dipped into the dye multiple times to achieve the desired color intensity.

5. Removing the binding material: 
After the yarn has been dyed, the binding material is removed to reveal the pattern. The yarn is then washed and dried to remove any excess dye or impurities.

6. Weaving the fabric: 
The final step is to weave the dyed yarn into the final fabric. The weaving process involves interlacing the dyed yarn with un-dyed yarn to create the finished product.[1]

Related article: Batik Printing: An Overview, Dyeing Method, Its History and Application

Preparation of wart and weft for Ikat fabric waving

Ikat fabric is a beautiful and intricate type of fabric that requires skill and patience to create. The dyeing method used for ikat fabric can vary depending on the specific design and desired outcome. Still, the basic process involves binding and resisting parts of the yarn to create a pattern.

Ikat, also known as the "warp and weft" or "tie and dye" technique, is a fabric weaving process where the yarns are dyed before being woven. The word 'Ikat' comes from the Indonesian word 'mengikat' which means to bind or tie.

Here are the steps for preparing the warp in ikat fabric:

Design: The first step in ikat fabric production is designing the pattern. The design is drawn on paper and then transferred to the warp threads.

Warp Preparation: The warp threads are arranged on the loom and tied to the loom beams. The threads must be arranged according to the pattern design. The threads are stretched and tightened to ensure that they are aligned correctly.

Tying: After the threads are arranged, they are tied with a resist material such as wax or yarn to prevent the dye from penetrating the tied sections.

Dyeing: The warp threads are then dyed using a dye solution. The tied sections of the threads will not absorb the dye, creating a pattern on the fabric.

Washing and Drying: The dyed warp threads are washed and dried to remove any excess dye or resist material.

Weaving: After the warp threads are prepared, the weft threads are interlaced with the warp threads to create the final fabric.

The process of preparing the warp in ikat fabric is time-consuming and requires a lot of skill and attention to detail. However, the resulting fabric is unique and beautiful with a distinct, vibrant pattern.

Ikat is a dyeing technique used to pattern textiles that involves resist-dyeing portions of the warp and/or weft threads before they are woven into fabric. The resulting patterns can be quite intricate and beautiful.

Preparation of weft Ikat

Here are the steps for preparing the weft in ikat fabric:

Select the yarn: The weft yarns used in ikat are typically made of cotton or silk. The yarn should be fine and even, with a consistent thickness.

Wash and dry the yarn: It's important to wash and dry the yarn before dyeing to remove any impurities or residue that could affect the dyeing process.

Wind the yarn onto a reel or skein winder: The yarn should be wound into a skein or onto a reel, depending on the size of the fabric being woven. The yarn should be wound with even tension, to ensure that it is evenly dyed.

Tie the yarn: Before dyeing the yarn is tied in specific places to create the desired pattern. The ties can be made using wax, thread, or other materials that will resist the dye.

Dye the yarn: Once the yarn is tied, it is immersed in a dye bath. The dye used will depend on the desired color and pattern. The tied portions of the yarn will resist the dye, creating a pattern when weave into the fabric.

Dry the yarn: After dyeing, the yarn is carefully unwound from the skein or reel and hung up to dry. The yarn should be handled gently to avoid disturbing the tied portions.

Weave the fabric: The dyed and dried weft yarn is then woven into the fabric using the desired weaving technique, such as plain weave or twill. The warp threads may also be resist-dyed to create additional patterns in the fabric. The resulting fabric is unique and beautiful, with a distinctive pattern created by the resist-dyed weft yarn.[2]

Ikat weaving designs

Ikat weaving is a traditional textile art form that involves dyeing the yarn in a specific pattern before it is woven into a fabric. The resulting fabric has a characteristic blurry or fuzzy edge to the design, which is a result of the yarn being tied and dyed in a specific way.

Ikat weaving designs vary by region and can be found in many countries, including India, Indonesia, Japan, and Central and South America. Here are some examples of Ikat weaving designs:

1. Patola Ikat: This is a style of Ikat weaving from the state of Gujarat in India. It is known for its intricate designs and bright colors.

2. Double Ikat: This is a type of Ikat weaving where both the warp and weft threads are dyed in a specific pattern before they are woven together. This technique is used in countries like Indonesia, Japan, and India.

3. Warp Ikat: This is a type of Ikat weaving where only the warp threads are dyed before they are woven together. This technique is used in countries like India and Uzbekistan.

4. Weft Ikat: This is a type of Ikat weaving where only the weft threads are dyed before they are woven together. This technique is used in countries like Indonesia and Guatemala.

5. Diamond Ikat: This is a style of Ikat weaving that is characterized by a diamond-shaped pattern. It is commonly found in Central and South America.

6. Striped Ikat: This is a style of Ikat weaving that is characterized by stripes of different colors. It is commonly found in Indonesia and Japan.

These are just a few examples of the many different types of Ikat weaving designs that can be found around the world.

Related post: Traditional sarees of India from Different states

Ikat fabric producing states in India

Here are the different regions in India well known for ikat fabric. Odisha, Telangana, and Gujarat are the three major ikat weaving states in India.

Odisha has two ikat weaving belts and both these areas vary in the products they make. Odisha the largest producer of Ikat handloom fabric and other related products. (https://www.quora.com/)

Gujarat is known for its very intricate double ikat ‘patola’ sarees majorly in Patan.

Telangana (earlier part of Andhra Pradesh) is famous for Pochampally Ikats which were one of the first to receive the GI status from the traditional craft sector and Telia Rumal is another indigenous Double Ikat which has evolved from what it originally was – headgear to Arab Travelers. (https://textilesofindia.in/)


1. https://www.berminghamfabrics.com/post/ikat-dyeing-process
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ikat
3. https://craftatlas.co/crafts/ikat

About the Author: Mouli Mondal is a college student at the Government College of Engineering & Textile Technology, Serampore. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Textile Technology. She has a strong interest in textiles and is eager to continue learning and growing in the textile field. In her free time, she loves writing articles.

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