A fabric in which the wefts have been printed prior to weaving. It makes a stunning looking cloth, but is a complex and time consuming process.
At its simplest: a fabric length is fully woven with substitute warp threads, onto which the pattern is printed; the warp threads are then removed and the cloth is re-woven with new warp threads. Because it’s impossible to re-weave it exactly as before the pattern shifts slightly, so that the edges are fuzzy, and the design gains an overall softer appearance than otherwise–it’s a fabulous transformation.
Weaving techniques vary, so the cloth may or may not remain on the loom, depending on the dying method and the unique process of each weft printed fabric technique; once the pattern has been printed the yarns maybe be marked up, tied for dying ( tie died ), taken off the loom, dyed, then re-woven with new warp yarn.
Most ikats are weft printed, but they may also be warp printed, as in chiné and some rare double ikats are made in a combination of both.