This weave inherits its name from the town of Ilkal in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka. This town was celebrated far and wide as a weaving centre back in the 8th century AD. The Ilkal sarees are locally woven using cotton warp on the body, art silk warp on the border and and art silk warp for the pallu. The most distinctive feature of this weave, however, is joining of the body warp with pallu warp with a series of loops locally called as Topi Teni. This technique is unique to the Ilkal, and also increases the length of the saree to 7 or 8 metres.

The pallu of this saree is usually made of red silk with white patterns carrying designs of temple towers in pomegranate red, brilliant peacock green, indigo, mustard, and parrot green colors, while the bright or dark-colored body of the saree is often made of stripes, rectangles, squares and may be plain as well. The form of embroidery used in the Ikal sarees is Kasuti which have traditional intricate patterns like palanquins, elephants and lotuses.

Like many other traditional weavers, the Ilkal weavers too have inherited the art from their ancestors over generations. In most households, it is the women who lead the weaving. Based on the design and pattern, it takes about three to seven days to weave one masterpiece Ilkal saree. The beautiful, distinct patterns on the pallus and the feminine borders make this a must-have in south Indian women’s closets.