Follow along for my tutorial on creating your own ikat-patterned fabric.
Ikat (pronounced ee-KAHT) fabrics are created by weaving dyed threads to created a pattern. This is very different than block printing, which is standard for most of the fabrics we buy. The ikat technique, as you can imagine, is quite the lengthy process and takes an admirable amount of skill.
My tutorial will show you how to recreate this look in a way that’s reverse the traditional method. Here, you will be coloring pre-woven fabric in a very simple manner—with fabric markers. Easy-peasy, I promise.
*Fabric markers (I used Marvy Uchida in Blue)
*Stencil (I made mine from a cereal box)
*Cotton fabric (I used Kona in White)
*Optional: ruler, disappearing ink marking pen
1. Prepare your fabric by washing/drying, measuring, cutting, and most importantly, ironing. (For the best results, wash the fabric without fabric softener.) Since I used mine for a pillow, I cut the fabric to the measurements I’d need for sewing.
2. Lay out your fabric, smoothing it out. You may wish to place some kind of backing underneath. I had no bleeding from the markers, but I used something underneath just to be safe.
3. Mark the center of the fabric. You can do this with a disappearing ink marking pen or with pins—just make sure it’s removable!
4. Center your stencil with the center of your fabric that you marked in step 3. Ensure the stencil is perfectly even and level, so that your pattern won’t end up crooked.
5. Using the fabric markers, start coloring in your pattern with straight, singular strokes of the fabric marker. Make sure these strokes are each the entire length of the stencil inset/outline and are aligned with your fabric’s weave.
Do not color back & forth—the individual strokes are what help create the ikat look. Repeat until your fabric is completed.
TIP: I first did a rough coloring of the pattern, then went over it later to fill it in completely. This method would also be helpful if you’re using multiple colors.
6. Allow the color to set before ironing again or handling. I let mine set a couple hours before I sewed it into an envelope pillow cover.
*I updated the pattern from when I originally posted this. The process is the same; I just added more ikat detail to the cover with the circles.
I’ve been sewing enough pillow covers to build a pillow fort! I’m preparing these for my living room makeover, which will include a floor seating area. You can check out my mood board for the makeover here and how to create the inkblot art hanging above the sofa here.
I have much respect for those who create the true ikat fabrics, for they put in a lot of hard work. But I also love a DIY project that allows you to recreate a look you may not have access to. Plus, with my tutorial, you can customize the ikat design and colors to match your room.
What do you think of ikat—is it a trend or a classic part of decor? Have you used it in your space?