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.