Before I get into a topic of today's blog may I just share my joy and tell you how happy i am that the new website has a blog? Now instead of explaining things in emails to specific customers I can just put my thoughts here for the whole world to read. 

So, the question of the day is how to care for ikat fabrics. Let me start off with a bit of history.

In 19th century, a silk yarn was as expensive as gold, ikat making technique was known to a few and the ikat garments were amazingly pleasant to wear. These were the days when the ikat textiles were only available to the richest and were considered to be a true luxury item.

With time, the ikat makers thought of a way of making ikat textiles more, let’s say, democratic. They started combining luxurious silk yarns with a more affordable cotton fibers and created, so called, “adras” fabric. Adras is a beautiful and rich blend of silk and cotton fibers (usually around 50% silk and 50% cotton but percentages may vary).  This brought the cost of the ikat fabrics down but by not that much – ikat fabric making still remained to be a highly manual process. 

This manual process involves a finishing step called “calendar”.  The calendar finishing uses a mixture of egg white with a special glue which is evenly applied to a surface of a fabric and then pressed in calendar rollers. This process makes the fabric stiffer and glossier, adds a noble moire effect and serves as a protection against dust and dirt.

Now let’s assume you decided to wash the ikat fabric. You are facing two risks: 

1)   Colors may bleed – this is less likely with newer fabrics but there is chance of color bleeding. This is why when     you wash ikats, make sure you hand wash them in a cold water with a mild detergent.

2)   The fabric will lose its shape because the finishing white egg / glue mixture will wash off, moire effect will be gone and you will have a soft fabric. The fabric is still beautiful and it may be what designers are looking for to create that special worn and organic look. However, the washed fabric, in most cases will not work for upholstery, for curtains, for anything that will require the fabric to hold its shape.


 Plum ikat fabric - washed and unwashed


Wisdom ikat - washed and unwashed samples

For these reasons, even though the care instructions for ikat fabrics are  “cold hand wash with a shampoo” (I will tell you “wash your silks with a shampoo” story in a separate blog post), it is still the best to get your ikat products dry cleaned. Here at UzbekAlive, if we say that the fabric is washable, it only means “the colors will not bleed”.