Weaving techniques are often characterized by their warp and weft patterns (the way the threads overlap). Some types of weaving involve creatively tying the threads to make patterns and designs right in the textiles. Ikat is a very different kind of technique, though, a method of adding print to textiles rather than a specific method of weaving. The results are unique, and have a lovely rustic quality to them. It’s a bit difficult to spot an Ikat print if you’re not familiar with the process, though.
A very common use of Ikat in textiles results in a diamond shape pattern, but Ikat isn’t exclusively this kind of pattern. Ikat is the process where warp and weft yarns are dyed before the weaving process. Often, threads will be tied together and sectioned off—this is like tie-dyeing. Color is applied to the sections of threads in the desired pattern, usually in a method similar to painting. The color is allowed to set in and may be applied again to get the desired shade. After the dyeing process, the threads are placed on a board and woven. This process can be done by machine, but a hand woven Ikat piece has a certain charm to it that you can’t get with a manufactured piece! You can spot a true Ikat print by looking closely at the warp and weft yarns; color will run beyond the pattern in between crossed yarns, as if the pattern is bleeding beyond the lines.
Ikat pieces make their appearance most often in warm weather. Their unique look adds an exotic flair to spring and summer outfits. However, an Ikat print can be quite fashionable in colder months, too! Save the tropical colors for a few months, and stick with more neutral colors to keep your look sophisticated. I love our Ikat Square scarf for winter: it’s classy and versatile, and can carry over to the warmer months!