Ikat, kat, or ikkat, is a dyeing technique used to pattern textiles that employs a resist dyeing process on the yarns prior to dyeing and weaving the fabric. Ikat is an Indonesian language word, which depending on context, can be the nouns: cord, thread, knot and the finished ikat fabric as well as the verbs “to tie” or “to bind”. In ikat the resist is formed by binding individual yarns or bundles of yarns with a tight wrapping applied in the desired pattern. The yarns are then dyed.
Ikat is similar to tie and dye in regards to the use of resist dyeing to produce elaborate patterns. First the yarns are wound onto a frame. Then they are tied into bundles. The warp yarns are then wrapped tightly with thread or some other dye-resistant material to prevent unwanted dye permeation. The procedure is repeated, depending on the number of colours required to complete the design. Multiple coloration is common, requiring multiple rounds of tying and dyeing. The newly dyed and thoroughly washed bundles are wound onto the loom to produce the warp (longitudinal yarns). Warp threads are adjusted for the desired alignment for precise motifs.
A characteristic of ikat textiles is an apparent “blurriness” to the design. The blurriness is a result of the extreme difficulty the weaver has lining up the dyed yarns so that the pattern comes out perfectly in the finished cloth. The blurriness can be reduced by using finer yarns or by the skill of the crafts person. Ikats with little blurriness, multiple colours and complicated patterns are more difficult to create and therefore often more expensive.
This form of weaving requires the most skill for precise patterns to be woven and is considered the premiere form of ikat. The amount of labour and skill required also make it the most expensive, and many poor quality cloths flood the tourist markets.
With the traditional process of making Ikat sarees by hand, the process can take up to seven months between two people to complete one length of a saree. To produce a single length of a saree even using the automated process, the numbers of steps involved are 14 elaborate ones.
In warp ikat it is only the warp yarns that are dyed using the ikat technique. The weft yarns are dyed in solid colour. The ikat pattern is clearly visible in the warp yarns wound onto the loom even before the weft is woven in. As sarees are a sought-after garment by both Indian locals and modern-day fashionistas, warp ikat sarees produced in these regions continue to be in high demand.
In weft ikat it is the weaving or weft yarn that carries the dyed patterns. Therefore, the pattern only appears as the weaving proceeds. Weft ikats are much slower to weave than warp ikat because the weft yarns must be carefully adjusted after each passing of the shuttle to maintain the clarity of the design.
Weft refers to the yarn that produces visible dyed patterns as it is woven into the warps in order to produce fabric. The process of weft ikat is more time consuming compared to warp ikat. This is due to the artisans’ intricate attention to detail in the adjustment of the weft, necessary throughout the weaving process in order to maintain the consistency and clarity of patterns.
Double Ikat is a technique in which both warp and the weft are resist-dyed prior to weaving. Obviously it is the most difficult to make and the most expensive. Double ikat is only produced in three countries: India, Japan and Indonesia.
We are going to talk in detail about Patola (Silk from Gujarat) & Vichitrapuri (Cotton from Orissa), the two wonders of Double Ikat Exclusive Sarees produced only in India. Pochampally, Telia Rumals & many more varieties of sambalpuri Ikats in the days to come.
Luxurionworld offers many varieties of Ikat to suit your style