11 Jun Ikat

Ikat (ē-ˌkät).  This technique of dyeing yarn – and its resulting pattern – has been around for hundreds of years.  But in the last few years, I am seeing a real resurgence of Ikat patterns both in fashion and home.

Ikat comes from the Malaysian word ‘mengikat’ meaning “to tie, bind, or wrap around”.  This ancient style of weaving involves using a resist dyeing process, similar to tie-dye where either the weft (left to right) or warp (up and down) yarns are dyed before they are woven on the loom.  The resulting patterns sometimes have a “cloudy” or “blurred” appearance that comes from the slight bleeding of the dyes into other areas.  Ikat weaving is one of the oldest forms of textile style and is thought to have originated almost simultaneously and independently in several global areas including India, Japan, Mexico and Argentina.  Each region developed its own cultural motifs and symbols, although Ikat was almost always associated with status and wealth due to its complicated and difficult technique.

Today we refer to Ikat in general to describe not only the actual technique but also any pattern that resembles the Ikat woven technique.

Today’s Ikat patterns are fresh and bold.  In fashion we are seeing Ikat patterns used on every fashion item from skirts to dresses, from handbags to shoes.  The look is always eye-catching, and depending on the coloration and pattern, it can take on a tribal primitive look or a festive, fun and exotic flavor.



Moving from fashion into the home, in the last couple of years several manufacturers and retailers have had fun with Ikat patterns, including mass retailer Target.  Currently, its Threshold line of house wares includes two patterns of everyday tableware featuring Ikat inspired patterns.  They are fun, fashionable and modern, with an ancient flair.

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In current home textiles, Ikat weaves and inspired patterns are found everywhere.  Ikats are a great way to update your look because they are so bold in pattern and can also, depending on coloration, be bold in color.  All it takes is a chair or a couple of pillows in an Ikat pattern to really make an impact that is both modern and yet feels timeless.



In the photo below the Ikat pattern takes on a modern urban feel in grays and yellow.  This is from Thom Filicia’s collection for Kravet fabrics.  The pattern is both modern and historic at the same time – the beauty of Ikat.


So remember Ikat the next time you need to add some boldness and style to either your wardrobe or home.  It is the perfect way to add an exotic touch to any space, whether it be traditional, modern or somewhere in between.


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