Ikats! The Origins & How to Use them in Your Home: Cushions, Wallpaper, Chairs, Bedheads, Curtains, Lampshades…

The ikat may have originated centuries ago, but it still looks as fresh as a daisy in contemporary homes. Here’s your fabric appreciation class on the centuries old technique and how to use it for a modern and eclectic feel in your home…

Ikat (pronounced eee-kat) means to ‘tie’ or ‘bind’ in Indonesian and refers to the process of weaving. Ikats are created using the centuries old technique of hand-dyeing then hand-looming or hand-weaving the threads together to create intricate patterns.

How ikats are made…

Traditionally cotton or silk hand-woven thread is used, and coloured with natural dyes. The threads are either individually dyed before weaving, or bundles of thread dyed together using the resist-dye method, where thread is tightly bound at intervals to protect the bound section from dyeing. The process is then repeated with the different colours. The thread is then hand-loomed or hand-woven together to create the elaborate and often multi-coloured tribal style designs unique to ikat fabrics, giving each piece its individuality, beauty, texture and irregularities. It’s this labour intensive process, with some hand woven fabrics taking 6 to 12 months to create, and the uniqueness of every piece of fabric that makes them so costly to produce.

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The Origins

Hand-loomed and hand-woven ikat fabrics traditionally come from Indonesia, central Asia, the Japanese islands of Okinawa, Central Asia and regions in India, the home to many weaving districts, but historic designs have been found in other regions of the world too, including Madagascar, Malaysia, Cambodia and Egypt. Generations of artisans have mastered the art of weaving and passed down their skills to their children and grandchildren. In India, specific regions including Puttapakka and Bhoodan Pochampally are known for weaving high quality fine cotton and silk products.


Traditional Ikats and Contemporary Designs

Ikats are used for furniture upholstery, curtains, rugs, cushions, throws, bedheads and chairs, but they’re also prominent on the catwalks, as tribal inspired ethnic prints. The Bohemian movement of the 60s were big adopters of ikats.

No Chintz Ikat Cushion in Scarlet and Purple, $214, as featured in Australian Vogue magazine.

No Chintz Ikat Cushion in Scarlet and Purple, $214, as featured in Australian Vogue magazine.



Chairs with Flair

Mix up your fabrics! Ikats look fab with stripes, textures prints and plains. “The more colour and pattern you bring into a room, the more layered and eclectic the feel,” explains No Chintz Creative Director, Chrissie Jeffery.

Chair Upholstered in Cashew Nut Love in Orange, $97, per meter, with Cushion in Flowers on Water in Parrot, $77.


The sophisticated look. Dining room Chairs (from left to right) upholstered in No Chintz fabrics Ribble in Indigo, $98 per meter, Deck Chair Stripe in Denim Ivory, $66 per meter and ikat Maya in Indigo, $87 per meter.


Use Ikat Spots for a contemporary feel. Chairs upholstered using No Chintz Ikat Spot in Clay, Cumquat and Pink, all $87 per meter.


Lampshades and Curtains

Ikat patterns work a treat as curtains and add texture and interest to lampshades.

Curtain made with Bindi in Surf, and Lampshade made using Ikat Spot in Cumquat, both $87 per meter.


Cushions with Colour

Some fabrics and designs will never date, and ikats are a stayer. Chrissie Jeffery has more than 30 years’ experience in the fabrics industry and knows a thing or two about the ikats worth investing in. Her faves? “Flowers on Water is an Ikat print with blossoms floating on water,” she explains. “It’s very popular and often used to create lampshades, cushions and chair coverings. The details are small but interesting and the colour range is lovely, with oranges, greens, blues and aqua. I also love Cashew Nut Love Blue, which is blue, green and aqua together. It looks great on bedheads and chairs because it’s so strong and bold.” No Chintz offer a Made-to-Order Cushion Service available online, where you can choose from over 130 fabrics and nine shapes and sizes and have your cushions delivered to your door.

Cushion at from made using Flowers on Water in Petrol, $77 per meter, is mixed back with patterns with blue and teal accents.

Cushions in Cashew Nut Love, $97 per meter, have a vibrant tribal appeal.


Inviting Bedheads

White walls getting you down? Pop a bright ikat bedhead against one for super sweet dreams and a beautiful boudoir. No Chintz offer an upholstery service – just choose your fabrics and leave the craftsmanship of your luxe new furniture to the artisans.


Wallpaper With Character

Use this ancient textile design to create a fresh bohemian appeal to interior walls. No Chintz have a selection of Ikat wallpaper prints available in-store in a great, bright colour range.

Ikat wallpaper in Pink Grapefruit available in-store at No Chintz.

Ikat wallpaper in Pink Grapefruit available in-store at No Chintz.


Choosing Environmentally Sustainable Ikats

Not all ikats are produced using environmentally sustainable practices, so source your fabrics with care. No Chintz Creative Director Chrissie Jeffery explains the great lengths her fabrics house goes to when sourcing fabrics. “Our hand woven fabrics are very low-tech,” Chrissie says. “They are made by small communities in India who have woven fabrics for generations on looms – they are not produced out of big electricity driven factories. These communities use recycled water, the dye by-products are captured so they don’t enter the water ways (cotton requires a lot of moisture in the air and water, so you have to treat water at the source – you can’t put contaminated water back into the system). And all the left over yarn is used by the community to create other textiles projects.”

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