Ikat Yarns


In the world of textiles Bali is famous for its Ikat a Malay word meaning “bundle” or wrap. The term Ikat which refers to a method or process has become synonymous for the beautiful textiles created using this process.


In the photo  above some of the plastic wrap used to tie dye has been removed so you can see the sections of color. Where you see the blue plastic wrap still tied it indicates another color will be added to the yarns.

It is a complex process during which the yarns of the weft (horizontal) on the loom are tied and dyed  with the pattern. Some times both weft and warp (vertical) yarns on the loom are also tied and dyed. This is a time consuming method which creates the famous Geringsing double ikats made in one village in east Bali.

Another place where this Ikat process is known is in northern India where it is known as patola.

The standard size of the weaving is 1 metre X 2.20 metre (about 40″ x 95″) which is the size of a sarong.

At the workshop where these photos were taken all the weaving is done by hand. There are now weaving factories where weaving is done by machine but the same patterns and quality cannot be achieved on a machine.

The term ikat has also become used to refer to the look of some ikat patterns that are “flame-stitched” in appearance – vertical zig-zags of color. This type of pattern is created using ikat but many of the current fabrics called “ikat” are actually machine printed facsimiles of these patterns.  In recent years these so-called “ikat” fabrics have been promoted and popular for mass market clothing at stores such as J. Crew and elsewhere.

I like an ikat weaving called “gila” in which extra yarns are woven without regard to the complex original pattern. These weavings are abstract and vary along the length of the textile (see below)

This pattern varies along the length of the sarong