Cool to the touch, this shimmering silk yaktak insulates the wearer from the dry heat of a central-Asian summer. Coats from Bukhara are known for their vibrant colours, medallion pattern and blurry designs typical of ikat, a process in which the maker dyes individual threads before weaving them together.

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Have you ever tried ikat dyeing and can you describe the process?

responded: Jan 20, 2012

Posted by Julianne Costigan

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Although I have never tried ikat dyeing, I have experimented with tie-dyeing which uses a very similar dyeing technique to ikat. Both tie-dyeing and ikat dyeing are used when fabrics demand a pattern made through the dyeing process. Ikat is derived from the Malay word ‘Mengikat’, which means ‘to tie’ or ‘to bind’. The ikat technique demands binding and dyeing the warps or wefts before weaving together fabric. Before dyeing the thread, patterns are drawn on to graph paper paying attention to warp and weft. The design is then transferred onto the warp and the weft through the use of binding, which resist dye saturation. Dye is then applied to the threads. Often to create more intricate patterns, bindings are rearranged and different colours are applied to the threads many times. Once all of the dyeing is finished, threads can be woven into cloth. There are three different ways to create ikat fabric. The first is called warp ikat. In warp ikat, the pattern of the fabric is very visible in the warp threads even before the plain coloured weft thread is woven through. In weft ikat, the pattern can only be distinguished once the warp thread (which has been dyed) has been woven through the weft for some time. The weft ikat is a much more lengthy process because the weft has to be adjusted to sustain a continuous pattern. Weft ikat process is most often used when the accuracy of the pattern is a less important concern in the finished fabric. Lastly, the double ikat process is when both the warp and the weft threads have been resist dyed before weaving them into fabric. Double ikat demands the most accuracy and hand skill.

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