Collection: Ikat Patterns

In Guatemala, women weave patterns on top of natural dyes like indigo through a process called ikat, where parts of the yarn is protected with a resistant before dyeing. Traditional Mayan weaving on a backstrap loom is an ideal way for women to work from home, giving them an opportunity to care for their children while supporting the family financially.

An association of about 15 weavers and dyers at Lake Atitlán in Guatemala is led by Francisca. She is one of the founders of the cooperative and oversees the production of totes, luggage tags, coasters, and other items. In another lakeside town, Doña Marta and her family in San Juan la Laguna weave five panels that are hand-stitched together to make one bedspread.

Learn About Ikat

What Is a Ikat?

Ikat (pronounced ee-kaht) is a precise dyeing technique that can create a distinct pattern in a textile. The weaver resist dyes sections of the yarn by tightly knotting individual yarns in the desired patterns. After dyeing the yarn, the knots are taken out, and the yarn is ready to be used in the weaving.

The results are a beautifully patterned textile with a lightly blurred effect.

Ikat Technique

The design is drawn out first, as the set up on the loom will impact the final patterned design. Because the yarn is dyed prior to weaving, it's important to measure the yarn carefully.

After knotting the yarn in the pattern, the yarn is dyed. The dyer can dip the yarn in different dye colors, and can alter the knots to create layered patterns. After the yarn is dyed, and the knots are removed, the weaver will set up the loom according to the type of ikat she will create:

Warp Ikat

The warp threads, or the yarn that goes up and down on the loom, are resist dyed using the knot method. Once they are dyed, the weaver carefully sets up the dyed yarn on the loom.

Weft Ikat

The weft threads, or the yarn that goes back and forth as the artisan weaves, are resist dyed prior to weaving. Since the weft does not stay in one place like the warp, this is a significantly more difficult method that takes much more precise planning and measurement. The results is a more blurred effect than warp ikat.

Double Ikat

This is the most difficult and rare method of ikat. Both the warp and weft are resist-dyed before weaving.

History of Ikat in Guatemala

While ikat is the term in Indonesia that has become widespread, in Guatemala it is known as jaspeado. In Guatemala, ikat is traditionally used in skirts, or cortes and tops for women, or huipiles.

In areas throughout Guatemala, women work on a backstrap loom, and each region has its own distinct traditional style of weaving.

Caring for Ikat Products

Naturally Dyed Ikat Items

Please treat our naturally-dyed and hand-woven cotton garments with gentle care, preferably washing by hand and drying flat or on a line in the shade. The dyes have been locked-in with a mordant and the yarns carefully pre-washed before weaving, but it is still normal for some color to run during the first couple of washes. If this occurs, you can choose to "wash it out" separately, or oak the textile in a tub of cold water mixed with a bit of vinegar or lime juice for a few hours. Hand-wash, air dry in the shade, and ta-da! We recommend further washing to be done separately to avoid any bleeding of color into other garments. Please use gentle detergent. 

For wool products, be especially mindful that warm/hot water and rigorous washing will felt your textile. Felting will also shrink your piece. Sometimes this is desirable, but if this is not what you are looking for, make sure to wash gently with cold water only.

Ikat Products with Leather

Handmade quality leather products can last many happy years. Shoes become more and more comfortable as you wear them, since the leather molds around your feet.Here’s a little guide to make sure your leather bags, shoes, and boots enjoy a long and happy life:

Polish the leather

We include a shoe polish kit with each pair of shoes and boots to make this easier for you! Just rub the polish onto the leather parts of your boots with the crote cloth. This will protect your boots, give them a nice shine, and make them softer.For bags, we recommend using a clear polish or oil and wiping it very well so it doesn't stain your clothes when wearing. 

Clean the Ikat textile

Spot-clean by dabbing the textile with a bit of water and gentle detergent.Here in beautiful Antigua during the rainy season, everything gets damp and inevitably some things mold if they are not properly maintained. If you live in a similar climate, we recommend a healthy dose of sunshine, air, and tea tree oil.

All Ikat Purchasing Options

Be 100% Certain You'll Love Your Ikat Design.

Custom Ikat Designed Orders

Our partnering artisans offer custom orders to meet your specific style and needs. You'll get a one-of-a-kind piece that is woven to last.

How to Get Your Perfect Ikat Design

Get Inspired: Browse our current selection

Get Connected: Reach out to us with any ideas you have for your perfect ikat designed piece. If you're unsure, we can advise you through the process.

Email: info@elmaexchange.com

Call: 720-826-9918

Get Ready for the Design of Your Dreams: Once we've confirmed the design, it will take about a month or more for your one-of-a-kind piece to be handwoven by the artisan.

At Home Viewings in Colorado

Make your home the showroom, and be certain you're buying the perfect home decor with a personalized viewing of our products.

We bring the rugs and textiles right to your door! You'll get to see how the items look in your home before making a purchase.

If you're not sure which one of our rugs or home decor is right for your space, we will come to you! You'll get to see the items right in your home before making a purchase.

What is Elma Exchange?

Elma Exchange is a home goods store that celebrates artisans who create traditionally made rugs and textiles with sustainable practices.

How to Get Your Perfect Rug or Home Textile

Get inspired

Browse our current selection to find your favorite items.

Get connected

Call, text, or email us to schedule a home viewing. Let us know the rugs, blankets, and table settings that you're interested in.

Email: info@elmaexchange.com

Call: +1-720-826-9918

Get ready for the room of your dreams

We'll bring all items right to your door! All you have to do is decide which one is perfect for your space.

We accept all forms of payment including credit card, check, cash, and Venmo. If you are paying with a check, please make it out to Elma Exchange LLC.

Return Policy

We want to make sure you will be 100% satisfied with your purchase, so please make your selections carefully and ask questions via email at info@elmaexchange.com or call us at 720-826-9918

We have a 14-day return policy, which means you have 14 days after receiving your item to request a return. We do not cover shipping for returns and there will be a 25% restocking fee.