Ikkat is classified into single-ikkat and double-Ikat styles
Single Ikat fabric is created by interweaving tied and dyed warp with plain weft or resisted weft yarns are inserted in plain weft. Double Ikat involves the process of resisting on both warp and weft and then interlacing them to form intricate yet well composed patterns.
In warp Ikat the dyeing of the threads would be of the warp (lengthwise lay of threads) on which the weft (feed of thread woven breadth wise across the warp) is woven. In weft Ikat it would be vice versa. In double Ikat both the warp threads and the weft threads would be dyed separately and then woven together.
In warp Ikat the patterns are evident on the warp lay even before the weft is introduced. Ikat created by dyeing the warp is simple as compared to the making of either weft Ikat or double Ikat.
Weft Ikat is preferred when it is the overall picture that is important, not the precision of the patterns. Double ikkat is even rarer and an example is the Patan Patola of Gujarat. Lesser accurate or poor imitation double ikkat versions are available in the market.
The artistic excellence of Ikat prints can be gauged from its traditional motifs of flowers, dancing girl, creepers, leafs, parrot, animals, birds, mythological characters and geometrical patterns. Most of the herikkat printed sarees have repeated geometrical patterns of diamonds, circles, squares, lines etc.
- First the yarn is tied in bundles. Yarn could be silk, cotton, jute or any other fibre chosen as base material.
- The resist bindings in the form of wax or any other dye resistant material, is then applied over the yarn. The dye is applied carefully and systematically and according to the desired shade.
- The procedure of application of resist bindings afresh for different colours is repeated till the dyeing process of all colours used is complete.
- Washed and dried in shade, the coloured threads are laid out on the loom and the weft on small spindles is used to interweave along the warp threads to create the fabric. Important is the pattern that has to surface accurately on the warp for which the alignment of the warp threads is a pre-requisite. If the alignment is precise, the resulting motif comes out as a fine print rather than as a weave.
- The skill lies in the weaver acting essentially as a selective heddle who selectively manually picks up warp threads before passing the shuttle through the resultant "mini- shed".
- Patterns result from a combination of the warp dye and the weft thread colour. Commonly vertical-axis reflection or "mirror-image" symmetry is used to provide symmetry to the pattern- more simply: whatever pattern or design is woven on the right, is duplicated on the left in reverse order, or at regular intervals, about a central warp thread group.
- Patterns can be created in the vertical, horizontal or diagonal.
- Weft Ikat uses resist-dye for the weft alone. The variance in colour of the weft means precisely delineated patterns are more difficult to weave. As the weft is commonly a continuous strand, aberrations or variation in colouration are cumulative. Weft Ikat is commonly employed where pattern precision is of less aesthetic concern than the overall resultant fabric. Some patterns become transformed by the weaving process into irregular and erratic designs.
- In weft Ikat it is the weaving or weft thread that carries the dyed patterns which only appear as the weaving proceeds. In weft Ikat the weaving proceeds much slower than in warp Ikat as the passes of the weft must be carefully adjusted to maintain the clarity of the patterns.