Ikat Fabrics and Techniques

Catriona Fergusson

The term "ikat" comes from an Indonesian word meaning to tie or bind; ikat fabrics are those in which sections of either the warp or weft threads (and sometimes both) have been tie-dyed to make specific patterns. Stripes with shifted colors or flecks are relatively common. Japanese ikat, called "kasuri", can contain extremely complex designs, stylized clan mon, or even animals or plants. Ikat fabrics have been found in Egypt dating to the eighth century and in India dating to the seventh. They are commonly seen in many middle and far eastern costumes.

The process of making ikat can be pretty complex, but this simplified overview can get you started. These directions are for warp ikat, the simplest form. The techniques should produce a striped warp.

a. Squeeze yarn bundle firmly with figure ane thumb. Wind tightly.

b. Cover end #1 as bundle is wound. When ready to tie, press binding with middle finger.

c. Make loop with end #1.

d. Pull a loop of end #2 through loop in end #1 and pull #1 tight.

e. This shows a finished knot.

f. Sometimes an especially tight knot is needed (and always for beginners). Make an additional loop with end #1 around the lop of end #2 and pull tight again. Cut the ends, leaving end #2 longer, as this is the one to be pulled when untying later on.

Warp and Weft Ikat

Warp Ikat


Battenfield, Jackie. Ikat Technique. Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York 1978.

Tomita, Jun and Noriko. Japanese Ikat Weaving. Routledge and Kegan Paul, London 1982.

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