The making of Ikat fabric

I bet you have seen Ikat fabrics and textiles everywhere—on clothes, accessories, and upholstery. Ikat is marked by colorful repeating patterns that are somewhat fuzzy. Have you ever wondered what gives them the fuzzy look?

The first time I looked at them, these fabrics reminded me of tie-die fabrics but they were more defined.

It turns out, these fabrics also use a resist dying technique, but not on the fabric. The dying is performed on the yarn. Resist dying is a technique where parts of the fabric or yarn are protected before dying them. After the yarns are tied and dyed (which may be repeated for different colors), they are woven. Etymologically, Ikat is an Indonesian language word, which depending on context, can be a noun (standing for cord, thread, knot, or the finished Ikat fabric) as well as a verb ("to tie" or "to bind") (source: Wikipedia).

The fuzziness of the fabric comes from the difficulty in lining up the pre-dyed yarn before weaving. The slight misalignments in the dyed yarns impart blurriness, which is the signature of any ikat fabric. Because the yarn itself is dyed, both the sides of the fabric exhibit patterned after weaving.

A number of very descriptive articles can be found on the way the resists are applied, and the way the is yarn dyed and woven. If the artist in you wants to learn more about the underlying processes and techniques, check out the following links:

At Mochiis, we love these fabrics for our shoes. Our current Ikat collection has four new Ikat designs. All these were sourced from Ikat weavers in India. Which one is your favorite?

Image source: Wikipedia,, ikat fabric, mid-19th century, Uzbekistan, Smithsonian Collections


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