Monday, July 21, 2014

Fabric: Ikat

Ikat (EE-khat) is an ethnic fabric found in many cultures across the globe, and originating independently in locations such as Central and South America, areas spanning the Silk Road to Central and South Asia, East Asia, and even Mediterranean Europe. Both the technique for creating the fabric and the resulting cloth itself is called ikat. The dyeing process is a complicated one, akin to tie-dye but instead of fabric, bundles of yarn are tied and dyed using a wax resist process. The dyed yarn is then used to create a warp ikat (warp refers to the fibers in weaving that are vertical), weft ikat (weft is, you guessed it, fibers woven in the horizontal position) or double ikat. This latter type, considered the premium ikat, employs dyed fibers in both the warp and weft directions and is much more time consuming and requires great skill.

Ikat has been a very hot fabric for a while, and as is the case with every trend, there is an expiration date on the "stylishness" of it. But fans of textiles will recognize that ikat is timeless (it has been around for most likely thousands of years). It exemplifies a handcrafted sense, and brings a touch of global style in any application. Below, you can see ikat on drapery, upholstery, pillows, wallpaper, bedding...

Happy designing!

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