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We often come across people from other parts of the world who are passionate about Uzbek Ikat fabrics as much as we are. This post is a teaser to make sure your “I sooooo want to go to Fergana Valley!” finally comes true.

If you are in love with Ikat fabrics the place in Fergana Valley where you need to go is Margilan. Margilan flourished as an ancient settlement on one of the branches of the Silk Road. How sericulture and silk Ikat fabric making developed here is surrounded with of legends. The present day fact is - artisans of Margilan are keepers of sericulture and Ikat weaving traditions of Uzbekistan.

- Population of Margilan: 215,400 (2014) 

- Each house in Margilan has something to do with silk making, Ikat dying, ikat weaving or ikat fabric distribution. 

-  Silk yarn is mainly produced at a factory called “Margilan Silk Vats”. The factory runs on French equipment from “Les Atelier Diederichs de Bourbon” which was imported after WW2. For the local market they produce silk yarn for Margilani artisans. The rest of their silk fabrics is exported from Uzbekistan. A tour of the factory can probably (!) be organized, you need to ask your travel guide to arrange one for you.

- “Yodgorlik” (formerly state owned factory) is a where you can see Ikat making process from a cocoon to a lush hand died and handloom woven Ikat fabrics. Here you can also buy their Ikat fabrics.

- There are several types of fabrics made in Margilan:

Boz: 100% cotton Ikat fabric. 

Adras: silk and cotton fabric. In case of Ikat adras, the same pattern is visible on both sides

Atlas: silk or silk/cotton fabric with a smooth shiny surface. 

Ala bahmal: silk Ikat velvet

Sheer silk fabric: mainly produced at “Margilan Silk Vats”

- All fibers (mainly silk and cotton) used in the production of fabrics are natural and are sourced in Uzbekistan.

- Dyes are often natural, however, for bold and bright patterns synthetic dyes are often used. We will be updating this post as we go.

- The best places to buy ikat fabrics is either directly from artisans or at a bazaar which will offer a greater selection of ikat material.

- Dyes are often natural, however, for bold and bright patterns synthetic dyes are often used. We will be updating this post as we go.

- The best places to buy ikat fabrics is either directly from artisans or at a bazaar which will offer a greater selection of ikat material.

We will be updating this post as we go. As of now do you some burning questions we can answer? :)

Margilan silk VATS silk yarn weaving

Equipment at "Margilan Silk Vats"

0 Comments | Posted By UzbekAlive

First there was late Oscar de la Renta’s sensational 2005 fashion collection, then many others followed his footsteps. Uzbek Ikat fabric traditions continue to mesmerize both fashion designers and fashion lovers with their bold ikat patterns, ikat weaving craftsmanship and uniqueness.

We have recently come across works of a very young Italian fashion designer from Turin who shares our love for Uzbek Ikat fabrics. Meet Cecilia de Marchi! Cecilia designs for a brand Beltepa which has a store in Turin - those in Italy who have not had a first hand experience of Uzbek ikat fabric should definitely check it out. Last month Cecelia received the first prize at Barolo Fashion Show in Barolo, Piedmont for her captivating collection. Cecilia has a skill for mixing different textures of fabrics ranging from solid fabrics to rich and bold velvet silk Ikat. 

We applaud Cecilia for her beautiful fashion collection and are looking forward to be further enchanted by her works in the future. 

Beltepa velvet silk ikat collection

Photo credit: Beltepa Official at Instagram

0 Comments | Posted By UzbekAlive

Ikat fabric traditions exist in different parts of the world. There is no consensus as to whether these traditions have spread from one place, emerged independently in different parts of the world or there has been some exchange of skills along the way. Could be all three! What we know today is that there are three types of Ikat fabrics being made: warp Ikat, weft Ikat and double Ikat. The geography of Ikat making is predominantly Asia, but also Latin America.

Warp Ikat fabric is considered to be the easiest to produce. In warp Ikat fabric the warp yarn is dyed to have Ikat pattern while weft yarn is solid.

Weft Ikat is the opposite of warp Ikat - weft yarn carries the Ikat pattern while warp is a solid color yarn. Weft Ikat is more complex and is more time consuming. Picture:

Double Ikat is the most labour intensive, time demanding and elaborate since both warp and weft yarns have Ikat pattern which once woven creates a very intricate pattern. There are only three countries which carry double Ikat traditions - that is India, Indonesia and Japan.

Often times it is sufficient to look at an ikat pattern to tell the origin of ikat fabric. For example, Uzbek Ikat fabrics are usually bold In colors, often in contrasting colors with large patterns.For example, take a look at this ikat fabric. Just from the passionate colors and large patterns we know - this is work of Uzbek artisans!

Bayram cotton silk ikat fabric from Uzbekistan

Indian ikat fabrics, in contrast, are more tranquil, often in smaller geometrical patterns.Here is a beautiful example of gray and white warp ikat fabric from another Ikat fabric online store, The Design Cart

 Gray and white cotton ikat fabric

 

However, sometimes even we get confused about the origin of the fabrics because with internet - thank God for living in 21st century! - it is easier for everyone to learn from each other. This beautiful ikat fabric, also of Indian origin, could easily be Uzbek Ikat fabric while it is not - this is Indian warp ikat fabric:

Blue and white ikat fabric

 

Now you might ask what type of ikat weaving method s used for Uzbek Ikat fabrics. Well, Uzbeks are very simple people and we like to keep things likewise :) It is warp ikat.

0 Comments | Posted By UzbekAlive

Red silk ikat scarf

 Almost Japanese estetics for a silk ikat scarf which is far from Japanese minimalism. This is where cultures mix, mingle and eventually thrive. Here presented folded Kaleidoscope Red Ikat Silk Scarf.

Every little thing we surround ourselves with requires our time and attention. All those clothes in our closets need to worn, dishes in a cupboard need to be used, books on our bookshelves need to be read or else we are just investing money in these items but getting very little, if any, return on our investment.

Oftentimes some of us go as far as buying bigger homes or renting storage to store those extra things BUT WHY? If we are not using things for a long long time, chances are we will not use them ever. When we invest money in things we don’t use we don’t see a direct relationship with the time we spent working for that money. All those long hours translated into outfits which are just hanging in your closet - was it worth it?

This is to say -I am all for minimalism in everything! I started adopting minimalist style a few years ago and find that having a basic wardrobe can be liberating. These days I don’t spend so much time thinking what to wear because my minimalist clothing is very minimal. Once you figure which outfits work with each other, getting dressed in the morning is fast and easy. I can totally relate to late Steve Jobs who is probably one of the most vivid examples of minimalist style - he wore only black turtlenecks and jeans. It was his version of basic wardrobe which was time-freeing and allowed him to focus on important things but.... yes, there is a “but”. Steve Jobs was a guy while I am a girl.

So what exactly did not work for me with my earlier adopted minimalist style? The boredom of having the same or similar look all the time. It felt like I looked a little.... eee... dull, too gray, too beige, boring. That’s until I realized that a way to spice my minimalist clothing up is through accessories - a unique bag, an interesting piece of jewelry or a bright Ikat scarf just to name a few. Mind you - since you are (hopefully!) saving money by switching to minimalist style, now you can and should be buying higher quality accessories. Ikat scarves, especially silk Ikat scarves, have a special place in my basic wardrobe - they are beautiful, they are unique since the entire Ikat making process is manual and they are 100% silk.

Another aspect that makes any handwoven ikat scarf almost enchanting is a rich artisanal heritage associated with Ikat materials’ production. Ikat textiles are the opposite of a fast fashion. They are on the opposite spectrum of consumerism because you can’t buy too much of which is produced so little. Making of a real Ikat scarf takes time, attention and patience. Like a silk warm transforming from a cocoon to a butterfly, like everything worth working for in life, like mastering a skill - good things take time and that holds true to a quality and uniqueness of our Ikat scarves.

Here, at UzbekAlive, we only offer real, genuine ikat scarves and ikat fabrics. To understand the difference between real ikat and ikat print,  article "What is ikat and how is it different from ikat print?" may be helpful. 

0 Comments | Posted By UzbekAlive

What is ikat fabric?

6/12/2019 10:28 PM

Ikat fabric manual dieing process, orange yarn fabric

We often come across fabrics which are defined as “Ikat print fabric” which leaves us a bit perplexed. What in the world is Ikat print? How is it different from Ikat? These are questions we would like to cover in this post and hopefully clarify the difference.

Let’s start with Ikat terminology as defined by the gurus. Wikipedia defines Ikat as follows:

“ikat is a dyeing technique used to pattern textiles that employs resist dyeing on the yarns prior to dyeing and weaving the fabric. In ikat the resist is formed by binding individual yarns or bundles of yarns with a tight wrapping applied in the desired pattern (ikat means "to bind" in the Indonesian language). The yarns are then dyed. The bindings may then be altered to create a new pattern and the yarns dyed again with another colour. This process may be repeated multiple times to produce elaborate, multicolored patterns. When the dyeing is finished all the bindings are removed and the yarns are woven into cloth” 

As you can see there is no “printing” in the Ikat making process. Curious as to why not? Because real Ikats are a product of a manual labour with very little interference from technology and “printing” is not a part of Ikat making process. That’s if we are talking about genuine ikats. When one talks about “Ikat print” we can assume that these fabrics are ikat patterns PRINTED on already woven modern industrial age fabrics. These fabrics were not dyed or woven following a traditional resist dying and weaving process, like the fabric that was given a term “Ikat”.

Let's consider one example of ikat print fabric which is a beautiful, very traditional Uzbek ikat pattern being sold on www.fabric.com:

 Fabric Aethilla Ikat fabric

This is a modern day fabric dyed and woven using industrial mass production methods. It has its own advantages (e.g., it comes with a width which is suitable for wide curtains). It also probably has less weaving imperfections which are inherent to handwoven fabrics. As beautiful as this fabric is, this is not Ikat. This is a fabric with gorgeous Ikat printed pattern without the Ikat tradition, it’s history, it’s luxurious feel, its small irregularities because no handwork like human life can not be flawless.

Here, at UzbekAlive we only sell real ikats. This is why we often refer to them as genuine or authentic ikats. 

0 Comments | Posted By UzbekAlive

To be honest, this Eco Green ikat is one of our favorites this year. We still have a few meters of it left which we keep reserved for lampshades project. This lumbar pillow cover is a product of  combining a small piece of Eco Green with old jeans. 

The pillow cover will fit beautfully in relaxed contemporary interiors. As often, this is a limited edition item - we will not make more of it. Pair it with Eco Green Ikat Drum Lampshade to have your interior decor items in the same Eco Green theme. 

Eco green, black and beige pure cotton pillow cover

0 Comments | Posted By UzbekAlive
We don’t know what cultural gems can be hidden in a place. Uzbekistan is certainly one of those places we overheard of but don’t know much about. However if one starts scratching a surface of cultural understanding one will realize what vast heritage is hidden in Uzbekistan.
 
Uzbekistan is uniquely positioned between Asia and Europe which from the ancient times made it a cultural exchange hub. During the Silk Road days, the significance of the Silk Road was not as much in the trade. The luxury items traded along the Silk Road were available only to very richpeople. The main significance of the Silk Road was in spreading ideas and knowledge which effected many. As legend goes,  this is how a silk farming - sericulture -started in present day Uzbekistan. Sericulture which was already established in China got spread with caravan travelers.
 
As people learned how to farm silk worms the next natural step was to learn how to make silk fabric, to develop methods of mixing silk with cotton and how to make new fabrics. One of those types of fabrics which was developed in Uzbekistan was Ikat fabric. Ikat fabric production independently developed in other countries like Indonesia and India as well but you can always recognize Uzbek Ikats among others for their bold patterns and bright colors. Originally Ikat fabrics were available only to royalty because silk was not so widely produced and was very expensive. A less costly version of Ikat fabrics was a blend of silk and cotton Ikat fabrics in which fabric makers mixed cotton and silk yarns. These fabrics were heavier and cheaper because cotton weights more and costs less. The most democratic version of Ikat fabrics was a 100% cotton Ikat.
 
What made ikat fabrics famous and trendy was not their fibers but their pattern and a method of making. To this day Ikat fabrics production is a labor intensive process which requires that the silk or a combination of silk and cotton yarns are first prepared. Then the Ikat pattern is drawn on the yarn which is stretched and tied to wooden poles. Once the Ikat pattern is drawn the yarn is prepared for resist-dying by tying certain parts of the fabric with a dye-resistant material, usually plastic. The dying process may be repeated many times, depending on a complexity of a pattern and a number of colors involved. A general rule of a thumb - the ikat fabric was dyed as many times as a number of colors it has in it. Once the yarn is dyed, it is prepared for weaving. If the Ikat fabric is hand made artisanal like it is in most cases in Uzbekistan, it is hand woven on a wooden loom, usually by women. Machine woven Ikat fabrics are manufactured only by factories the number of which is low these days - most of those factories were government supported during the soviet days and stoped their main operations after the collapse of the USSR back in 1991.
 
Uzbek Ikat fabrics have been experiencing Ikat Renaissance over the last 10 years. World famous fashion houses like Balenciaga and Oscar de la Renta made entire collections using Ikat fabrics from Uzbekistan. Homes featured in lifestyle magazines use Ikat fabrics for Ikat decorations and Ikat accessories. The Ikat fabrics are once again captivating the world with their beauty, uniqueness and history.
0 Comments | Posted By UzbekAlive

We are taking this photo as an inspiration for our blog.

This photo was taken during the Fashion week in Tashkent, Uzbekistan which took place in November 2017. The skirt which is the main focus of the look is made a of handwoven Ikat fabric "Marsala" (F114) and we happen to have something very similar in stock, not quite the same pattern but the same bold energetic color scheme!

 

Marsala ikat skirt Tashkent Fashion Week 

 

Marsala handwoven ikat fabric

Comments | Posted By UzbekAlive

Good time of the day to whoever is reading this post which is going to be quick and will convey one message that is "Accessories Really Matter".

See that red teapot on a shelf to the right? Recognize it? It is our Golden Paisley teapot getting featured in italian edition of Elle Decor. The teapot was designed in the Soviet days, it was hand painted and indeed is a beautiful and timeless piece of porcelain to add to your dining table. 

 

Orange golden paisley teapot

Comments | Posted By UzbekAlive

Red tulip spring sale Uzbekalive

 

Happy Spring or as we say in Uzbekistan – Navruz Muborak! Navruz is a new year, which starts on spring equinox (March 21) and lasts for a month. During that month as the nature renews itself we review where we stand with our lives and renew.

We are clearing up some space for a new energy to come in. As such, we are offering 20% discount on all orders $100 and above. The promotion includes everything we have in stock – those silk ikat scarves, those handwoven fabrics, those pillow covers you have been considering. EVERYTHING!

The campaign will end on May 1, 2017 and since everything we have is a limited edition the offer is valid while supplies last.

Happy Renewal to all! Peace, Love and Harmony to you! 

Comments | Posted By UzbekAlive
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