Fashion trends may come and go but ikat fabrics have always stood the test of time.
Ikat refers to the dyeing technique used to create the designs on the fabric . The pattern isn’t created by painting or printing. It s a resist dyeing process where bundles of yarn are tightly wrapped together and then dyed as many times as is required to create the desired pattern. This dyeing process is different because the yarns are dyed before being woven into cloth. In other resist dyeing techniques, like batik is the final cloth and not the yarn that's dyed.
Once the yarns have been suitably dyed and dried, the weavers lines them up on the loom to for the pattern. The designs takes form as the yarn is woven into cloth. This is incredibly complicated process as the weaver has to precisely dye the threads and place them correctly so it forms the correct pattern when woven.
Steps involved in creating an ikat fabric::
Types of Ikat fabrics:
- The desired pattern is first drawn on the warp and weft yarns by hand.
- The weavers then ties these yarns to match the planned pattern. The threads are then dyed in the specific colours so that the colours seep into the yarns at the appropriate position.
- The ties on the yarn are united and the yarns are strung on the Loom.
- The fabric is then woven together and the colourful pattern of motifs emerges on it.
At times, it’s hard to distinguish between a fabric with a printed or painted warp and one that is ikatted. Each may have blurred edges in the patterns due to the shifting of warp threads during weaving. But in warp ikat, only the warp threads are wrapped to resist the dye and create the pattern. Bundles of threads are tied together and patterned exactly the same; these bundles may consist of two to twelve threads and the woven fabric would show these small groups of identical patterns. Another identifier—look at the length of the fabric. If the design runs parallel to the selvedge edge and the vertical lines are a little blurred due to the shifting of the warp yarns, it’s probably warp ikat.
In weft ikat, only the weft yarns are wrapped to resist the dye and form the pattern creating distinct horizontal lines. Weft ikat allows for more fluidity of design than warp ikat. During weaving, it is critical to position the weft yarn precisely in relation to the preceding weft shot and to all others that will follow. Any unplanned shifting will alter the design. You may notice small loops at the selvedge where the weaver shifted weft threads to create the design.
The process of creating double ikat is both complicated and time-consuming. The warp and weft yarns are wrapped and dyed to coincide; the resulting design has feathery edges on both sides of the intersection, as well as top and bottom. Undyed warp and weft yarns are counted, bundled, wrapped, and folded with precision in order to produce the pattern.
AN ORIGINAL IKAT CAN BE EASILY RECOGNISED FROM THE FAUX PRINTED ONES, BY EITHER LOOKING UP CLOSE OR SIMPLY TURNING THE FABRIC.