To be perfectly honest, I didn’t know what IKAT was until I visited the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul last year. Beautiful colours and floral designs on IKAT cushion covers neatly stacked on shop windows attracted me first. I was so mesmerised by these magical fabrics that I remember spending hours in one shop trying to decide which covers to buy for my house.
One year later, when I started importing them from Turkey for my little wish, I learned how amazing and intricate the IKAT fabric making is and I want to share with you this magical process.
So what is IKAT?
The word ‘IKAT’ is actually coming from an old Malay word ‘mengikat’, meaning to tie or to bind. So to make IKAT fabric, the threads are dyed before weaving using a kind of tie dye technique instead of printing or painting a design on after fabric is woven.
To do this, the thread is wrapped onto a frame and the pattern is made by tying off small sections of the thread with plastic tape that will keep the dye from penetrating at these points. When all the dyes are applied to the IKAT yarns, the threads are sent to the weaving shop where it’s tied to a loom and skilfully put together to create the designs.
*Images by Tim Stanley
This process gives the IKAT its blurriness to the design. I am sure you can imagine the difficulty the weaver has lining up the dyed yarns so the design appears perfectly in the finished fabric. The more colours and complicated patterns IKAT has, the more difficult it is to weave perfectly hence the blurriness. However, this gives the IKATS its characteristics and often valued more because of it.
Personally, I love the fact that none of the IKAT cushions are exactly the same and it has imperfections in the patterns. In my opinion this only shows someone put such an effort making this amazing fabric and only adds to its uniqueness.
So are you ready to join the IKAT frenzy? One word of warning though - you might love them so much that you start making other decorative decisions in your room based on your Ikat Cushions!