What is Ikat and How is it Made?

IKAT. You’d have to be folded up in your pull-out sofa to miss the popularity of this textile.

More of Laura Singh Ikat InspirationIkat inspiration board from the studio of textile designer Laura Singh of Color Loom.

Ikat Inspiration from Laura Singh Studio

Ikat (pronounced “ee-kat”) is a loom-woven textile created by a remarkable process.

A master weaver first ties bundles of warp threads in precise patterns to prepare for colored dyes. A more intricate resist-dyeing technique like tie-dyeing, tied patterns must accurately match the planned fabric design.

Master Tying Threads. (Photographs by Kiran Singh.)
Master Tying

Stages of tying the warp.
Stages of tying the warp

Dyeing the bundles.

Next the weaver secures the dyed warp threads to the loom and checks for accuracy.

The fabric motifs are seen in the dyed threads.
The pattern in the fabric spread out

Woman in doorway with dyed Sari weft.
Woman in doorway with Sari weft

Then he weaves the weft thread through, and the fabric design emerges.

Weaver with ikat fabric.

Double ikat textiles take even more skill to make. For these, the weaver also bundles and dyes the weft thread in patterns. He then weaves the weft and warp to cross precisely so that colors match up and form the planned motif. These ikats are rich in color.

Dyed warp next to finished Color Loom double ikat fabric.
Dyed warp next to finished fabric

Because of the handcrafted weaving process, ikats have distinctive feathered edges on the colored areas.

A beautiful ikat fabric (center) from Color Loom.
Color Loom Ikat

Want to tell an authentic ikat from an ikat-look printed fabric? Look at the reverse side. On authentic ikats, the design goes all the way through since it is woven into the fabric.

And examine the design of a real ikat—no motif is exactly the same—and from a distance the textile has an organic quality that printed versions (with their necessary repeats) can’t duplicate.

Color Loom Kazak Silk Ikat.
Color Loom Kazak Silk Ikat

Color Loom Store BerkeleyDuring my recent jaunt to Berkeley, I discovered a marvelous place to find the real thing and many other fabulous hand-woven textiles. Just opened, Color Loom (1425 4th Street, near Gillman) is the new retail end of the well-know textile design firm Laura & Kiran.

Trust me; you’ve seen Laura & Kiran’s textiles before. Name a high-end furniture manufacturer or home design catalog and odds are they’ve specified use of Laura & Kiran’s fabrics for some of their furniture.

Husband and wife team Laura and Kiran Singh have been designing ikats since 1982. They often travel to Kiran’s native India where master weavers—whose artistry is passed down through generations—turn their designs into gorgeous textiles. Kiran was nice enough to share with us his photos of the weaving process.

A peek at some of Color Loom’s textiles:
Some of Color Loom Textiles

More about the Color Loom store in another post but suffice it to say it’s worth the trip. Sumptuous handcrafted textiles, bedding and accessories, made using traditional techniques but with a contemporary take on the design. And lovely people too.


What’s your favorite type of textile?

Blog Widget by LinkWithin

6 Comments for “What is Ikat and How is it Made?”

Amazing post.

Would like to know more about Indian Traditional Textiles.


Great – explained with simplicity! and thank you for showing us how to pick out the originals.

[…] see how it’s made, check out the set up and dyeing process of the master weavers showcased on homeworkshop.com. It’s a very well written and informative post on the process from start to finish. Who […]

[…] Twists and turns…a multitude of colours. The Ikat weaving process via […]

[…] For a pictorial description of each of these steps, I suggest you visit the HomeWorkshop website. […]

Hello! I love this entry and also work in textiles with ikat. May I share with credits? I will happily site photos and content. Thank you!

Leave a Comment

Tags: , ,

Subscribe to Email News

Keep up with the latest Challenges news, and creative design & decorating inspiration when you Subscribe to Homeworkshop's Design Junkies Journal.

Automatically Receive HomeWorkshop.com Content
Follow HomeWorkshop on Twitter Follow HomeWorkshop on Pinterest Follow HomeWorkshop RSS feed
Let's Go Shopping
Make your own thrifted shabby chic pieces in a weekend

Put our button on your site!
Copy the code below:

Fab Web Sites