Ikat: The millennium old weaving technique

Edric Ong from World Craft Council Asia Pacific Region, co-curator of the exhibition, designer and artist, says, “The technique of ikat is practised in at least 28 to 30 countries across all the continents. It is therefore global and stretches across the five regions of the World Crafts Council.”

The best thing about ikat is that it is exclusive to the country where it comes from. Which means that although it is popular in several places such as Indonesia, Japan and other South Asian countries, the most coveted double ikat woven fabrics come from Guatemala and India. Every ikat weaving group has its own distinct patterns, designs and colours. Originally considered a sacred fabric for ceremonies in Bali, it is now Indonesia’s most commercial resist-dyed fabric.

Another interesting thing about ikat is that the resist dyeing is done before the yarn is woven together. Bundles of yarn are tightly knotted together and dipped into the dye to get the desired pattern. Unlike other fabrics, for example Batik which is dyed only after the yarn is woven into its final piece.

  • The patterns are created through resist dyeing on either the warp, or the weft, or both depending on the pattern. The ikat process begins with the warp threads being strung up on the frame, close together and properly tightened, almost similar to the look of guitar strings.
  • The desired pattern is first drawn out on the warp and weft threads by hand.
  • After the binding (i.e to complete the loom by tying the ends together) is done, the yarn is taken off from the frame and dipped in a bath of colour. After dyeing, the binds are cut away.
  • The threads are strung up on the frame once again and arranged carefully so that they match exactly. New bindings are place in the locations where the pattern has to differ.
  • This process is repeated over and over again to accomplish a full Ikat weave with different patterns, designs and colours.


Ikat has been practiced by countries for over a millennium. With the constant changes in fashion trends, the ikat weaving technique is still appreciated and widely used amongst artisans, who help keep this beautiful art alive. It is time-consuming and requires a lot of patience but the satisfaction of completing a piece is truly worth the effort.  Sometimes a piece can take up to six months or more to complete.

In today’s fashion industry, many designers and high street brands replicate the look for ikat with printing or a jacquard woven fabric. An original ikat can be easily differentiated from the faux ones, by looking up close or simply turning the fabric over. Since ikat is woven on looms, if the product is genuine, the same pattern will be followed even if you turn it over.

When you say ikat the first things that comes to mind are gorgeous sarees. But Apart from apparels, ikat is also used to create stunning home décor, which includes bed sheets, cushion covers, carpets and more. It is quite popular on accessories like bags and jewellery too. Ikat style necklaces are trending these days. The most popular designs are intricate diamond-shaped patterns, curved scroll and paisley designs.



The Phoenix Company brings to you a collection of beautiful Ikat dresses, pants and skirts, ranging from different colours to unique patterns. Made from a light cotton material, these are perfect for long hours of work as well as party or casual wear. These smart dresses have an amazing fit and help you stand out in a crowd!

Purchase them from The Phoenix Company right away: http://thephoenixcompany.in/index.php/product-brands/fraterniti/dresses.html

By Naqiyah Hasan


Sources: https://www.curms.com/the-ikat-weaving-process/




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