Fabric: All Things Ikat

I of course have a chair that needs to be reupholstered. Each of the Sprucettes have a hand full of our own projects that we can never seem to get to. And it doesn’t help the decision making process either when you are surrounded by the most beautiful fabrics on the planet. It’s like having to pick your favorite child, not possible! For a few months now I have been on a kick to reupholster my chair in an Ikat fabric. I am in love with the colors, the style, the process of making it, really all of it! I love that it can live well in a formal room or jive in a more casual space. I thought it would be great to share a little bit about Ikat textiles, and hopefully you will geek out over all this as much as I do 🙂


Ikat (or Ikkat) means “to tie” or “to bind” in the Indonesian language. Ikat is a style of weaving that uses resist-dying on the fabric to create the pattern. Resist dying is when products (wax, paste, chemical agent) are used to prevent the dye from reaching all the fibers. So this specific placement of product will create the beautiful patterns you see. Ikat is said to have started in India and crossed into other countries/cultures due merchant trade. However, some say it is difficult to pin point the exact country of origin.

How it’s Made

Most commonly, Ikat is made by dying the “warp” and not the “weft”. The warp is the set of lengthwise yarns through which the weft is woven. The warp has the resist agent put on it in the pattern desired. Then, the fabric is dyed and put on the loom. The pattern is then visible on the yarn on the loom. The weft, one continuous strand, is then woven through the warp, creating the finished fabric. You can also resist dye the weft, which is much more difficult since you have to create the pattern over and over on one strand of yarn. Crazy!

Ikat Everywhere

It seems that Ikat has been a big trend for 2009 and carried into 2010. The ethnic style print has made its ways on clothes, stationery, bedding, and on and on. Here are a few fun ways this style has been incorporated into design these days.

Ikat at Spruce

I have been on a mad search to add a great amount of Ikat to our collection here at Spruce. We have some amazing options from major lines as well as the boutique brands we have. I think I have settled on using one of these pictured below. Can you guess!? Let’s just say the color of the print rhymes with shmellow. 🙂

It is great to see how this ancient style of fabric has been translated over many years into modern day design. Today, most mass distributed Ikats are printed on a base-cloth. However, there are artisans around the world that continue to use the traditional way of making Ikat on a loom. There are organizations dedicated to ensuring the survival of traditional textile techniques. They promote fair trade of their product as well as creating communities for support, which is amazing!  Check out Threads of Life and see what they are doing to help these artisans have a sustainable living on their craft.

Next time you come into our studio, we can incorporate a great Ikat into your space and create inspired pieces like this!