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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

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
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

Ikat pattern matching service

3/10/2015 12:57 AM

UzbekAlive ikat pattern matching service

Ikat fabrics, just like any other fabrics with a pattern, have a pattern repeat. Given that handloom woven ikats are narrow, often times, for projects that require wider width of fabric,  the pattern needs to be matched.  For example, you want to use ikats for making curtains – 2 panels, 80cm wide, 3 meters long. Buying a little over 12 meters of 45cm wide fabric will not work for you. Why? Because you need to match the ikat pattern for your curtains and that pattern repeat may vary.

This being said, we are making it official here in this blog that we do offer the ikat pattern matching service. We have been doing this for our customers who, from our conversations, appeared unsure as to how much of the fabric to buy and we will continue doing this.  

What’s the benefit? You only pay for the fabric you really need, what’s left from the middle pieces we use for our own projects. Win-win situation for all of us!

Comments | Posted By UzbekAlive
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