Mexican textiles: when you think of Mexican textiles, you probably think of colorful fabrics or perhaps wool serapes. The festive table setting above combines Mexican and Southwestern elements for just such a distinctive appeal.
Mexican rugs and textiles make beautiful pillows. The large lumbar pillow on the bed above has a highly textural and graphic style. The charcoal gray wool combined with bright and soft colors lends a sophisticated yet primitive feel to the room.
The wool rug above was woven by an artisan in Oaxaca, Mexico. When I travel to Oaxaca, there are always hundreds of beautiful wool rugs to choose from. The color choices are as varied as the patterns. You can find very colorful or more neutral wool rugs in a range of sizes. These classic Mexican hand loomed wool rugs compliment many decorative styles.
Mexican Otomi, or Tenango, textiles are known to be playful and joyous pieces of Mexican hand crafted textiles. The Otomi textile above went to a client who planned to frame it and hang it as a focal point above a fireplace. Completely hand embroidered, Otomi textiles range in quality just like any textile that is hand made. Some artisans simply have more skill than others. I do my best to select only well-crafted Otomi pieces for my shop.
Hot Pink is one of my favorite colors and Mexican textiles provide a wide range of options for me to choose from. The Mexican table runner above is just right for a standard size table or it could be worn as a wrap. A Morrissey Fabric customer purchased one of these lively Mexican fabrics to make toto bags.
Please check my shop here and on Etsy for a premium selection of Mexican textiles.
Morrissey Fabric has built a reputation for carrying a wide range of vintage Indigo textiles from around the globe. African Indigo has been a top seller since the company began, and for good reason. This casual yet stylish African textile can be found in every shade of indigo imaginable so it coordinates with just about anything. Pillows made from this lovely indigo fabric will also sit pretty among a wide variety of interior spaces. The patterned textile used for the pillows above came from Mali, Africa and the graphic pattern seems to exude summer style.
Not sure what a "boho" pillow is? The term refers to global style, so vintage fabrics like African strip cloth fit the bill. There are many types of African indigo textiles available in the market. Vintage African Indigo fabric is a natural style choice for a summer pillow update. Often when I find these beautiful African Mossi pieces, they are in tough shape after decades of use. I do all I can to bring them back to life, but sometimes a burn mark, bleach stain, or hole cannot be undone. In a case like this, I use a patch to hide the damage. The patch becomes a decorative focal point like the Baule cloth stitched to the vintage African indigo seen above.
Vintage Hill Tribe fabric from remote areas of Asia make up into lovely batik pillows. Backed with 100% linen, the pillows seen here are definitely a summer must-have. They are available at Morrissey Fabric on Chairish.com or you can purchase the vintage batik textile in my shop to DIY your own pillow covers.
Light pink African mud cloth pillows have a softer, feminine appeal. Wouldn't they look lovely on a bed with a simple white cover? Pink mud cloth pillows with a white tribal print can be found in my on-line store, or you can make your own. I've got the pink mud cloth in a variety of prints available in my Etsy shop.
Kuba cloth is hand woven in the Congolese region of Africa. The grass fibers used to create African Kuba cloth give the finished kuba textiles a casual feel. Combined with a light color cotton or linen back, even black kuba cloth is well suited for summer.
Mexican Otomi fabric is completely embroidered by hand. An Otomi in Turquoise is a great option for a summer boho Pillow cover. I carry a selection of Mexican Otomi textiles in my shop. Take your pick of multicolored embroidery or a single color on natural cotton.
Vintage African indigo has been at the forefront of interior design for several seasons. But just like a comfortable pair of blue jeans, there is always a place for any and all shades of denim blue. The bedroom above has a vintage African Indigo draped over the headboard to give the space some extra depth.
Stripes are a big trend for summer. The faded vintage African Indigo seen here took a lot of effort to restore. It was well worth the two days of soaking, hand mending, and vintage Indigo patch to bring the vintage Mossi back to life. The stripes were a bonus feature.
How about a vintage African Indigo for a bean bag chair? Pillows by Elissa offers a one of a kind lounger to a room for a truly bohemian summer update.
The African indigo above is a classic example of a vintage textile that could be used as a throw. The fringe finishes the length ends of the African textile So you could place it over a sofa back, a chair, or at the foot of a bed.
Otomi Textiles from Hidalgo, Mexico are hand embroidered works of textile art. Since they are crafted in a rainbow of colors they serve many design purposes.
Otomi fabric in rainbow colors not for you? Then a monochromatic Mexican Otomi textile is an option.
Mexican Otomi fabrics make wonderful pillows. The sofa seen here is covered with monochromatic Otomi and multicolored Otomi pillows. When the season changes, it's easy to use a new set of pillows to change the mood.
Mexican Otomi Textiles are a classic way to place color in a room. Using one color or several, the designs vary as well. You can find all-floral patterns or designs filled with mythical creatures.
Please visit my Etsy shop to see a nice selection of hand embroidered Otomi textiles.
Photo: Morrissey Fabric
Otomi textiles are not new to the design scene. In fact, those of us residing near Mexico have most likely had exposure at some point to the festive hand embroidered textiles. These colorful pieces are particularly popular during the summer months because of the rainbow of colors and playful motifs that emit a relaxed style.
The bedroom seen above shows a contemporary use of the Otomi textiles. Also called Tenango, these festive textiles are used for upholstery on the head boards in this girl's room. The accent pillows are also crafted from Otomi and have hot pink backs to bring out the color. The silver pouf is a nice designer touch to elevate the space to a more modern feel.
Photo: Morrissey Fabric
Otomi textiles come in monochromatic variations as well as multi color. The closeup of the Mexican Otomi seen above is a nice example of a modern Tenango. The embroidery has been hand stitched exclusively in this relaxing aqua blue color.
Otomi textiles have been featured in several issues of Domino magazine over recent months. The bedroom above is styled with monochromatic Otomi textiles in sunny yellow and marine blue. The naive patterns filled with a variety of creatures and plants sit comfortably next to the multi color items in the space.
Framed Mexican Otomi fabric works very well as wall art. Placed against a darker green wall, the marine blue and white Otomi embroidery was given an honorable place to hang. The hand crafted textile becomes a focal point of the dining room with a simple white matt and frame.
Photo: Morrissey Fabric
Multi color Mexican otomi textiles remain the most popular of the embroidery colorways. There is something fun and creative that shines through these lovely hand made fabrics.
The creatures like the fish and bugs in the Otomi textile above would make just about anyone stop, look, and smile. These hand embroidered pieces of art capture the personality of their makers and that is why they remain part of the design landscape.
Please visit again for Part II of this post.
Recently a Morrissey Fabric customer sent me this photo because she knew I carried a variety of Kuba Cloth textiles in my shop. I had to admit I had not seen Kuba cloth used for upholstery in this way before. What stood out to me was the ivory color suede of the seats and chair backs. This light ivory hue prevented the black ground of the authentic Kuba cloth from appearing too heavy. Using African Kuba cloth to upholster chair backs isn't new, but combining it back to a much lighter color presented a fresh contemporary touch.
Photo: Space Interior Design (Instagram)
Kuba cloth has been a staple in my shop nearly as long as African indigo. The first few pieces I purchased from an African dealer were small and could be made into pillow covers. Since then, I've seen Kuba cloth used in many different ways. Above is a custom pillow made for a customer by request. Since each Kuba cloth is hand made and one of a kind, every pillow cover will be unique. Not only does Kuba cloth originate in the Congo, Africa, it is all woven by hand within small villages there. Local grasses are the fiber used and natural dyes create the color combinations.
Photo: Morrissey Fabric
African Kuba Cloth works extremely well as wall art. Kuba cloth can be formally framed and matted as seed above. Or you can frame Kuba cloth with the edges exposed. This is nice when the edges have fringe. If you are on a budget, you can simply hang your Kuba cloth with small push pins directly onto the wall. I've seen Kuba cloth displayed in each of these methods and they all work quite well.
Kuba cloth pillow pile! All the one-of-a-kind pillows seen in the photo above are terrific examples of just how unique each Kuba cloth is. So even if you decide on a Kuba cloth pillow, there are many options. The velvet-like texture of the pillow placed center front in the photo is nick-named kasai velvet. This isn't as soft as a cotton or rayon velvet by any stretch. But the luxurious appearance is created similarly; by cutting the loops of woven fibers.
Photo: Anitavee's Home Decor
The Kuba cloth pillow above also showcases a version of kasai velvet. This particular Kuba cloth was likely woven to be a wall hanging because when I purchased it the textile was attached to a dark wood stick for hanging. The gentleman who bought this cloth from my shop wanted a pillow that honored the original intent of the cloth. So rather than cut a face and sew it to a linen or cotton back, we collaborated and decided to keep the side details as part of the finished pillow design.
Photo: Morrissey Fabric
Kuba cloth also comes tie-dyed. It's not nearly as easy to find, but it's out there. The pillows above were created with one of these more rare tie-dyed Kuba cloth textiles. When I find this type of Kuba cloth, I purchase several for the shop.
Photo credit: LA Viva Home.com
When you are ready to add a piece of authentic Kuba cloth to your home decor, please be sure to view the large selection available in my Etsy shop.
Globally sourced textiles can be found in every niche of design. With the popularity of hand crafted items in the forefront, interior designers, apparel designers, and accessory designers are turning to exotic locales like Morocco, the Ivory Coast, and remote villiages in Asia and South America to source vintage and new textiles.
photo: Johnny Was Clothing
The bedroom above showcases both new and vintage textiles. The African indigo on the bed is similar to many I have sold in my shop. This particular room is not for the timid as it boldly displays a variety of global textiles. The live plants give the room a signature Bohemian touch.
photo: la boheme house of the wishing tree
Global Textiles can also be combined in a very clean and sophisticated manner. The monochromatic pillows seen above are limited edition pieces created with a focus on maintaining traditional processes and ethical making practices. Ehren Seeland and Hecho are responsible for creating these beautiful natural fiber pillows and they exemplify the artistry found in the indigenous textiles of Mexico. We may only associate Mexico with bright colors, but the neutral palette is equally appealing.
Photo: Ehren Seeland
Global textiles like African mud cloth and kilim rugs can add soft color to a space if that is your preference. The room above by Rug and Weave fearures black and white African mud cloth pieces atop a linen sofa and vintage petal pink rug for a relaxed well designed space.
photo: Rug and Weave
Latin American global textiles are known to be colorful and bright. The linens used for the table scape shown above nicely anchor the succulents and florals. This is a good example of using global textiles to set a mood for an occasion rather than a permanent installation.
Mixing textiles is an important part of creating a well developed global style. A Design mix may include items like beads, baskets and living plants. In selecting each item you are making a choice. It's worth taking your time to find the global textiles and trinkets that speak to you and reflect your taste. Above I placed an African basket and beads with a Mexican Otomi textile and black ceramic beads from Oaxaca. To me they look like they were all made for each other.
photo: Anita Morrissey
The vintage African Indigo, also called Mossi or Bogolanfini, used to reupholster the large armchairs in the photo above are a great example of repurposing vintage fabric. I'm often asked if the vintage African indigo textiles are strong enough to use as upholstery. The answer is typically yes, but it depends on the condition of the vintage African indigo. Some are full of holes and very thread-bare while others remain sturdy and tough through the years. The pieces used for the chairs above are likely backed with muslin, or stabilized with fusible interlining so the fabric will last for years.
photo: juxtaposition home
The stack of vintage African Indigo above was in my repair bin for months. I finally pulled them out and set to mending the vintage African fabric so it would be ready for repurposing. Cleaning and deodorizing vintage fabric is the first step to giving it a new design purpose.
photo: Morrissey Fabric
The interior above, designed by La Boheme House of the Wishing Trees is loaded with texture and color from all the global textiles. The lively space comes to life with vintage fabrics, plants, and a nicely placed kimono used like a headboard. The fearless use of vintage textiles from all over the globe give the bedroom a signature bohemian style.
The square poufs above by Thread Tooth are made from several different vintage global textiles. Vintage Chinese Batik, African Baule cloth, and faded African Indigo are all one of a kind textiles that have been repurposed into interior accessories. The colorful embroidered Indigo from Mali, Africa adds to an interior design vision when hung on the wall. No formal frame required.
photo: Thread Tooth
The retail space above showcases a more subtle use of global textiles. Yellow Prairie Interiors skillfully displayed black and white African mud cloth accessories among neutral furnishings. The green and white foliage print gives the palette a nice bit of accent color.
Photo: Yellow Prairie Interiors
The sophisticated living room above is given character through the addition of globally sourced textiles. This is a colorful example of decorating with geometrically patterned fabrics from around the world. The rug adds playful hues that are picked up in the other textiles in the room. The walls and sofa remained neutral keeping the space from becoming overwhelming.
The global textiles and striking rug at The Beach lodge are welcoming and filled with character. The black and white African mud cloth on the bed balances the room nicely against the actively patterned pillows and kilim rug.
photo: The beach lodge
Please watch for part two of Global Fabric Design Inspiration.
When I opened Morrissey Fabric I had no idea that many of my customers would use my vintage globally sourced textiles to make pillows. Eighteen months later I've come to understand that pillow makers are a major part of my customer base. African Indigo, mud cloth, Chinese batik, these are just a few of the vintage textiles made popular as the bohemian style trend in home decor continues. Consumers on the look out to purchase one of a kind pieces made by individuals rather than large corporations have supported these pillow makers and their small business endeavors. In turn, these creative entrepreneurs have turned to Morrissey Fabric as a reliable source for clean and unique vintage global textiles.
photo: Morrissey Fabric
Since many pillow makers tend to sew square pillows there is always demand for lumbar pillows made from vintage global textiles. The jumbo lumbar in the photo above was made from a vintage Hmong batik fabric. I made this pillow cover as a sample to inspire creative repurposing of a vintage indigo. This particular vintage fabric was in tough shape, but the colorful hand stitched embroidery motivated me to save this vintage indigo textile and give it new life as a pillow.
The vintage indigo batik fabric used for the pillow above was originally a pleated skirt. The folds on the batik fabric left some thin areas and some torn spots so patches were in order. Since the vintage batik design disguised the repairs I didn't accent them with contrast stitching.
When vintage African Indigo has unsightly stains that won't come out after 48 hours in a soap and water solution, I like to add a decorative patch. Some light stains aren't a bother, but there are others, like tar, marking pen, or paint, that I prefer to disguise. That was the case with the vintage African indigo I used to make the jumbo lumbar pillow in the photo above. I gave the patch a red cotton hand stitching to highlight the mending. Since I'm making these pillows to enjoy my time sewing, it was nice not to stress about the extra time taken.
Photo: Morrissey Fabric
If you are familiar with my Morrissey Fabric Instagram feed or Facebook page, you know I love color. I recently had a request for a pillow made from a vintage silk Chinese wedding blanket, so more lumbar pillows were up next. The colorful hot pink vintage textile was so vibrant I decided to piece it back to a neutral cotton upholstery fabric. Sometimes this extra step will soften the pop of color so that it can be more easily coordinated back to less saturated colors in an interior space. As soon as these two fabrics were combined it had a tropical island vibe. This gives the pillow cover a more understandable design making it easier to visualize the pillow placed atop summer bedding or a neutral color sofa.
Photo: Morrissey Fabric
The vintage Kuba cloth pillow seen above was custom made for a client in New York City. It was important to the client to maintain the intention of the original cloth rather than cut a decorative front and stitch it to a linen back. I was happy to oblige the client. We agreed that I would use the vintage Kuba cloth textile for the front and back of the pillow cover, and that I would not remove the decorative trim that was hand stitched along each side. The end result had a bit of a ripple along the side seams, but it honored the original artisan's design beautifully and the client was thrilled.
All the pillows I create for Morrissey Fabric are sold on Chairish.com so that I'm not competing with my Esty pillow makers. You can go there for inspiration or to purchase a one-of-a-kind vintage fabric pillow. Of course you are always welcome to visit my Etsy shop to purchase from a large selection of vintage global textiles to create your own designer pillows.
I'm frequently asked by my customers how to best clean African Indigo and African mud cloth textiles. This post provides several suggestions on overall cleaning and spot cleaning of your African Indigo fabric.
photo: Morrissey Fabric
The vintage African Indigo in the photo above received the first step of cleaning that all my vintage indigo pieces get. I load the washing machine with hot water then add Sythropol textile soap and a cup of Oxi Clean for colors. I use a big stick to mix the water and soaps, then I add two or three indigo pieces to the washing machine. On occasion the vintage textile will split a seam or two. Unfortunately the vintage indigo shown above needed a lot of mending after washing. Since there was no staining, the mending is worth the effort.
More often than not, vintage African Indigo and mud cloth has spots and stains after washing. The African Baule cloth from the Ivory Coast shown above still has multiple stains that did not come out in the wash. This is when time becomes your friend. In a spare sink, fill half full with hot water. In my case I use large plastic storage bins. Then add a scoop of Oxi Clean and a tablespoon of Synthropol textile soap to the water and mix. Next, place the stained vintage indigo into the water mixture. Agitate to be sure the textile is fully submerged. Allow the stained textile to remain in the bath for 24 hours.
Below is a photo of how I soak out stains. Nearly every time the vintage African fabrics go through this soaking process the stains are gone and you would never know they were there.
A word of warning, DO NOT use bleach on these stains. You will ruin your indigo! Instead of removing the stain, you will bleach white areas into your cloth that you cannot reverse. Trust me, I see many a ruined vintage African textile that someone tried to spot clean with bleach or a heavy solvent.
The African indigo textiles shown above are near the end of the 24 hour textile soak. As you can see, even though these vintage indigo textiles were already washed in hot soapy water, they still had plenty of dirt and grime stuck within the cotton fibers. I used this particular photo because the water gives you a good sense of what can be cleaned out of your vintage indigo textiles. Keep in mind, many of these vintage African indigo fabrics are nearly one hundred years old. Like a pair of old blue jeans, they will hang on to some of the wear and tear of their years, so a single wash in your machine won't likely get them back to their original glory. A good soak will get you a much cleaner fabric. When you are buying from my shop, this has already been done and is reflected in the pricing.
After the 24 hours has passed, wring out the African indigo and let the dirty water go down the sink drain. I don't like to put the dirty soapy water into my outdoor drains because they go directly the bay where my husband and I swim. Our indoor garage sink drain is the safest most environmentally friendly place to dispose of the soak tub water.
Finally, I fill the washing machine with water and a half cup of Synthropol textile soap. I don't add any Oxi-clean for this final wash because there is already plenty of soap in the cotton fibers after soaking. Run your washing machine on a gentle wash cycle.
I mentioned that you should not use bleach to spot clean any vintage indigo textiles. I stand by that. However, if you want to deodorize a vintage African fabric, you can use a cup of bleach in your wash. The best way to do this is to add the bleach to a full washing machine tub. Stir it around or agitate to dilute the bleach. Then you are ok to put the vintage indigo textile into the wash. These indigo fabrics have been worn or in use for many years and the color will not suddenly bleach out of the cloth. There have been times when I wanted to fade the indigo, and adding just one cup of bleach to the wash showed no effect.
I like to line dry my indigo textiles in the California sun but this isn't always possible. When the weather doesn't permit, I dry the indigo in my dryer on a regular setting. Once it's done, you are good to go.
A final note: not all stains will come out. Some vintage African indigo has paint or markings that simply won't budge without destroying the cotton fiber. Some yellow or rust-like stains won't let go even after multiple 24 hour soaks. You can live with these impossible to remove stains and understand that it's part of the personality, character, and history of the vintage textile.
Next time I'll touch on cleaning new pieces of African mud cloth. This is an entirely different process. Stay tuned.
A thoughtfully curated selection of Vintage Global