We only had a few days in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia, (our other time in Indonesia was spent sitting on a beach in the middle of nowhere on Lombok) but of course I had to buy some Indonesian fabric. We got dropped off in the heart of Ubud at the palace and ambled our way down Kajeng road (on the way to Threads of Life, more on that below) and one of the first stores I noticed was a little sarong store and sarongs = fabric!
There was a beautiful assortment of different sarongs in a variety of quality of fabrics printed to look like batik, some real batiks, and some ikat. Since everything is sold as sarongs, it means that the fabric comes as ~2 yards. I talked to a driver that we had about traditional clothing in Bali and he told me that both men and women wear sarongs, although they are tied differently and men wear a second sarong on top. Western clothes (pants and t-shirts) are prevalent, but sarongs are considered more formal so they would definitely be worn for any special occasion or going to temple even if someone chose not to wear them on a daily basis.
I found Ubud to be one giant tourist trap, especially the central day market. But stand after stand after stand sold decent quality printed sarongs, even if it was the same selection as every other stand. Expect to bargain heavily (which I hate doing, btw, and very much enjoyed not having to do so when I bought fabric in Thailand) and be offered better deals the more you agree to buy. I saw some stunning examples of gorgeous handmade batiks in a couple art galleries and antique stores, but they came with price tags reflective of the fact that they were works of art.
I did buy a few prints meant to look like batiks and one relatively cheap ikat (definitely not as nice as the maumee I bought in Thailand). I was told that the brown and blue tone “batiks” were more old-fashioned.
If you have a love of textiles, a visit to Threads of Life is a must. They are working to help revitalize traditional methods of textile construction and with that comes conservation, fair trade, and empowering women. The pieces in their gallery are jaw-dropping and it was hard for me not to come home with a work of art for our walls at home. I strongly recommend perusing their textile archive online because it is beautiful, inspirational, and educational.
They offer classes on Indonesian textiles, but unfortunately for me, the teacher was out of town while we were there. In the gallery they have a small informational exhibit on traditional ikat weaving. I thought it was quite interesting to see the step-by-step process used to get to the finished product. For warp ikat, threads are arranged on a tying frame where adjacent threads are tied together with palm leaf fiber. The tied portions are inaccessible to dye. More knots are untied with each successive layer of dye.