I fell in love with the textures and patterns found within hand woven African kuba cloth when I first set eyes on it years ago. African kuba cloth is an amazing textile that is woven from natural grasses found in the Congo region of Africa where indigenous tribes weave their art. You will see authentic kuba cloth in very high-end interiors where kuba cloth adds depth with the history and character it possesses. Used to dramatic effect by designer Serena Crawford, the long kuba cloth panels are one of a kind treasures taking the place of traditional drapes.
When you see a piece of African kuba cloth, you might not consider it an upholstery fabric at first glance. But creative designers have enlisted the vintage African textile for many an upholstery project. Above, the midcentury style ottomans get new life when covered with the geometric patterns of the grass kuba cloth. Interior Philosophy Atl used a dark stain on the legs of the global-style foot stools to compliment the hand appliquéd kuba cloth textiles.
I have only one source for these amazing tie dyed kuba cloth textiles from Africa. This variety is known as a N'gongo Tribe tie-dyed raffia dance skirt. This rare N'dongo or Ngeende tie dyed/stitch resist raffia Is a lighter weight than the Kuba cloth in my shop because there is no appliqué. Instead, a tie-dye and resist technique creates the patterned decoration. All hand made and one-of-a-kind. You won't see an example like this anywhere else! When I find them I add them in my shop, but this type of Kuba cloth is few and far between. I have shown them hung as wall art, but Farmhaus Antiques created several one of a kind pillows with the tie dyed kuba textile and they look amazing.
Vintage kuba cloth comes in many sizes and shapes. You can decorate a wall with African kuba cloth to incorporate hand-crafted artistry to a space. Kuba cloth can be casually hung without any frame, but it takes on a more formal appearance when framed as shown above.
The rare kuba cloth shown above was an acquisition I recently made for the Morrissey Fabric shop. It has an unusual hand-woven eyelet-like zig-zag detail combined with raised cording and conch shells. Often the conch shells are removed so the weight of the kuba cloth will be reduced for shipping to the United States where I am located. Fortunately this was not the case here. All the shells remained in tact so we can appreciate the beauty of this collectible kuba cloth textile.
You will find a large selection of African kuba cloth here in the on-line shop or find even more in the Morrissey Fabric Etsy shop.
Here at Morrissey Fabric every Tuesday is a #TextileTuesday. Textile Tuesday is a time when I review photos of repurposed vintage textiles made into apparel or home decor. There are so many creative designers working their magic with repurposed textiles that it's difficult to select which items to post. This week I decided to focus on African indigo and African Baule cloth repurposed and/or up-cycled into clothing. The gorgeous tunic in the photo above worn by Ali MacGraw is a perfect example of up-cycling African Baule Cloth. Originally worn as a wrap skirt or shawl, the vintage blue and white ikat textile has been repurposed into a chic bohemian-style tunic with orange bead trim sewn along the neckline.
African indigo comes in every shade of blue as well as indigo blue and soft white stripes. I find that the striped indigo mud cloth is hard to locate in mint condition and often has a lot of fraying and wear-n-tear. For a creative like Mira Blackman, distressed African textiles are not a problem. In fact, Blackman celebrates the rustic character found in the vintage textiles. Her African indigo stripe kimono jacket seen above is a style-statement maker with frayed pockets and hand repairs giving the garment it's one-of-a-kind repurposed appeal.
Inspired by Blackman, I finally set out to make my own African indigo poncho. Given that I worked as a fashion designer for three decades, I found it to be great fun to revisit that skill-set. I picked out just the right African indigo textile to repurpose and sew the garment above. I used scraps from a badly damaged African mud cloth to create the contrasting pockets and center front neckline detail. Now I'll be set for cool summer mornings or I can use this as a beach coverup.
African indigo mud cloth also works well as a skirt. Note the carefree and feminine style ruffle skirt created by Maria Strauss above. Strauss has a keen eye for shaping the vintage African indigo fabrics into skirts that flatter a female figure. Her unique take on up-cycling vintage African textiles is perfect for the casual and fashionable Florida lifestyle, or for anyone wanting to emulate the mood.
To find your own vintage textiles to repurpose please visit the online shop or my Etsy shop. Custom orders available or I can refer you to one of the talented designers featured here.
Guatemalan indigo fabrics are very easy to repurpose into one of a kind home decor items. With the vintage indigo ikat textiles I carry in my shop you can request a custom order or DIY a set of table placemats and napkins. For inspiration, the photo above from The Global Trunk illustrates the character and casual elegance a humble Guatemalan ikat fabric can bring to a table top.
Guatemalan indigo ikat fabrics are available in the Morrissey Fabric shop on Etsy and on this website. You will find a nice selection of vintage Guatemalan ikat corte fabrics to create whatever it is you need for a table top update. Most of the Guatemalan textiles I carry are called corte cloth. Simply translated, "Corte" means skirt. Authentic Corte cloth was originally woven with back strap looms throughout villages in Guatemala. The vintage ikat textiles are typically in very good condition.
Guatemalan corte cloth is most often hand crafted from cotton. The weight of the corte fabrics will vary depending on the region and village the Guatemalan cloth originates from. The vintage corte cloth used for the pillow above has many distinctive traits. For example, the embroidered stripe running horizontally across the pillow face is called a "Randa." Since these textiles were worn as skirts, the randa was a decorative way to disguise the seam where the two length ends were joined together to make one large tube of fabric. This ikat corte cloth also has a very interesting pattern. If you look closely you will see figures and trees woven into the unique Guatemalan design.
Vintage Guatemalan corte cloth makes a wonderful upholstery textile. The indigo blue striped corte used to upholster the antique loveseat above is very sturdy cotton. Note the elaborately embroidered randa detail on this Guatemalan textile. This type of heavy embroidery is not easy to find on a vintage corte cloth so the decorative feature is prominently centered as the focal point on the furniture frame.
The indigo corte cloth seen here is a very heavy denim-like plaid. I'm told that these particular corte cloth are woven by Guatemalan men. Once again, the decorative randa embroidery is used to cover the seam where two long pieces of Guatemalan indigo are joined to make a wider width. The randa that runs across the length only appears in one area where the length ends were joined. As with most of the vintage textiles I carry, these Guatemalan textiles were created to be worn as garments, so the size will typically be like that of a large beach towel.
Guatemalan corte cloth is not the regions only garment easily repurposed into home decor. For Morrissey Fabric I used a vintage Guatemalan Huipile to make a pair of unique and vibrant pillows. A Guatemalan Huipile is a top or blouse. I'm often amazed by how thick the huipile weaves are and that a tiny village woman wore the heavy garment. The Guatemalan huipile I used for these pillows was quite damaged along the lower portion, so I cut the unusable part and replaced it with homespun African mud cloth so that I could complete two 20-inch square pillows.
Vintage Guatemalan corte cloth from my Etsy shop was used for the tulip skirt pictured, designed by Maria Strauss. This is one of a collection she designed for her high-end Florida-based label, Just Be Queen. One of the many desirable features of vintage Guatemalan corte cloth is that is was not mass produced. This affords apparel and home decor designers to repurpose these textiles into limited edition and one-off creations.
Indigo corte cloth may be very dark indigo blue or more faded in color. Since I am based along the coast in Southern California, I am often asked to source very light and faded indigo blue Guatemalan textiles for my clients. This is a tall order indeed. I have found that the indigenous Guatemalan people who wear this decorative cloth value the textile and have cared for it so as to prevent much wear or fading. But as you can see by the pillows pictured above, the deep indigo blue color is right at home among the rest of the rustic elements in the space.
Please check the Guatemalan fabric sections on this website or my Etsy shop for a wide range of vintage ikat and indigo textiles.
Mexican Otomi embroidered textiles come in a rainbow of colors suitable for casual decor, a child's room, or a colorful bohemian space. Mexican Otomi is also called Tenango therefore either term represents the festive hand embroidered textile.
For Morrissey Fabric I combined cloth from multiple continents to create a welcoming guest room shown above. African mud cloth pillows, an Asian hill tribe striped pillow, pink and gray African Baule cloth, and a Guatemalan bedcover coordinate comfortably with the Mexican Otomi pieces that solidify the style statement of the room.
Otomi is hand embroidered and each piece is one of a kind. The Otomi textile seen above was embroidered to be used as a placemat. But you could easily repurpose the Tenango placemat into a pillow, the side of a tote bag, the back of a shirt, or frame and hang as wall art.
The extravagant table setting above, created by Dana Small Designs, is a wonderful example of how to use monochromatic Mexican Otomi textiles to full advantage for a party table scape. The Tenango textiles of this size are hand crafted in Hidalgo, Mexico. These large pieces of hand embroidered Otomi were made to be used as bed covers, but they add a lush one-of-a-kind charm to this party scene.
Otomi placemats are an affordable way to represent the colorful hand made embroidery art in your home. No two Tenango textiles are alike which makes these conversational textiles a nice way to display something truly unique.
Tenango embroidery has many design styles. You will see birds, flowers, mythical animals and sometimes human figures in the compositions. I have found the floral patterns and the multi-color patterns to be the most popular with my Morrissey Fabric clients. But if you lean toward a monochromatic color story you will likely be able to find one suited just for you. The green Otomi table runner seen above could also be repurposed into Jungalow-Style wall art or pillow covers.
If you are searching for a particular color or size of Mexican Otomi fabric please feel free to contact me for sourcing. It should be noted that these Tenango textiles do not come as running yardage. The maximum size is approximately 2 yards x 2 yards because the embroidery is all done by hand in small Mexican villages where workspace is at at premium. If you need larger quantities for a design project, you will have to use multiple Otomi textiles.
Global textiles are filled with animal motifs of every sort. Some vintage textiles have mythical creatures while other antique fabrics portray real animals like elephants and birds. The vintage Chinese batik, also called paste-resist, is a perfect example of just such a textile. Elephants are a symbol of wisdom and strength in Chinese art.
Guatemalan Textile are absolutely packed with animal and bird motifs. The treasure corte cloth seen above has rows of birds perched atop greenery.
You may not see them at first when viewing the textile from a distance. But upon closure look it's easy to spot all the birds.
The little turtle seen in the African Hausa cotton fabric above is a common motif. The turtle is often accompanied by small reptiles, fish, and birds. African textiles are loomed by hand and are full of beautiful rustic characteristics such as cotton slubs and seeds.
Sometimes these African Hausa textiles are also called Fulani textiles. These large African fabrics make wonderful bed covers.
African indigo is sometimes tie dyed with fish represented in the patterns. The abstracted fish and bubble trail is a great conversation detail. I've come across a number of these African indigo with fish patterns and each one is different due to the hand made nature of the textile. Classic blue and white with fish patterns on a vintage African indigo isn't difficult to find, but it's always charming nonetheless.
I will be posting more examples of animals found within vintage global textiles such as Mexican Otomi embroidery and Chinese batiks. Stay tuned.
Black and white home decor continues to be a strong trend whether you look at farmhouse style, contemporary style, beach cottage style, or global style home goods. But not everyone wants pure optic white in their home since it can read as cold or unwelcoming. So why not try natural homespun cotton textiles for a warmer version of the black and white trend? Above is a natural linen hill tribe cloth from Asia that has a rustic yet crisp appeal. These Asian hill tribe textiles run very narrow at just ten to twelve inches in width, but you can easily join several panels together to get the width you desire.
The chair seen here was a cast-off piece that I knew was worth saving. I sanded down the old finish and painted the chair a warm gray. I then sewed together two panels of the vintage Asian hill tribe cloth to get enough width to cover the chair. I also used a decorative black and natural one-inch trim to disguise the seam. So while this chair is not strictly black and white, it does fit into a black and white color story.
African textiles are usually made from homespun unbleached cotton fibers. The African cloth in the photo above seems to have different names depending on which African dealer I spoke to. The gentleman I sourced this African textile from informed me that it was called a Hausa textile. But I've also been told it is a cotton African Fulani blanket. Whatever you choose to call it, in my shop I offer some of these large textiles as full size pieces. They are individually hand crafted in Africa to be used as bed covers. They can be pricey, so I also offer smaller sections for my clients to make pillows. The texture of the African hausa and fulani textiles make lovely pillows, upholstery, or as intended, bedspreads.
The pillow above is another example of a warm white homespun cotton Hausa textile made into a beautiful pillow at Cloth and Main. The African Fulani textile was laundered and cut down to custom make large cozy pillows. The hand stitching used to join the narrower strips of cloth is still visible and adds hand-crafted charm to the finished pillow.
African mud cloth textiles are originally woven with unbleached homespun cotton fibers. This is why the mud cloth fabric has a warm organic look about it. African mud cloth is printed by hand once the strips of narrow cotton cloth are sewn together to make one wider textile. Since these unbleached cotton fabrics are made by hand, they don't often come in large sizes. What many people don't realize is that authentic African mud cloth is commonly made into mud cloth pieces that run about forty inches wide by sixty inches long. That's about the size of a large beach towel.
Authentic black and natural African mud cloth fabrics will provide you with one-of-a-kind pillows due to the hand made nature of the textile. Every pillow crafted from authentic mud cloth will have it's own set of unique charactaristics such as the number of slubs and seeds visible and the spacing of the hand-applied print. Even the shades of white found in African mud cloth will vary. So if you are looking for a way to add a touch of soft ivory and black to your home, global textiles are a great way to do just that. Find a selection here at my on line shop or visit my Etsy shop for even more global and vintage textiles.
I have only recently become familiar with the beauty of vintage Guatemalan Textiles. Since I am based at the coast in California, the indigo blue Guatemalan fabrics work particularly well for home decor. Indigo blue textiles, especially the more worn and faded pieces, make a nice addition to a home with casual style because of the warmth and durability of the cloth. The vintage corte cloth above and below were originally woven to be worn as garments. The term "corte" means skirt. These two textiles are quite heavy so it's a novelty to imagine a tiny indigenous Guatemalan woman wearing them!
inGuatemalan corte cloth makes up into comfortable and durable pillows. The two large pillows above made their way to a new home in Florida after hurricane Harvey. These global-style pillows are the only two of a kind due to the vintage ikat corte cloth that was used to custom make them. Pillows are just one way to display vintage Guatemalan indigo ikat fabrics.
Guatemalan corte cloth is woven with a back strap loom. Beautiful ikat patterns are created with indigo and often mixed with other naturally dyed colors. The Guatemalan corte cloth fabric above has purple, soft plum, and green to liven up the design. You could use a textile like this to place on a table, use as a pick nick blanket, make pillows, or use for slipcovers.
In the photo above, ARA Collective has mixed vintage and new pieces of Guatemalan indigo fabric to display as wraps. The indigo textiles with the fringe are created more recently by artisan coops within Guatemala. I have seen them woven large enough to cover a bed with retail prices topping $500 USD.
Because Guatemalan corte cloth is woven with a back strap loom it can only reach the maximum width a person can reach while seated. Typically the widths range from 36 inches to 40 inches. Can you imagine? If a person is tall and needs more length for their corte, an additional strip of cloth is sewn on at the bottom. In the photo above, the extra cloth was given a decorative embroidery detail and a velvet edge traced with gold trim.
Do consider the unique bohemian appeal of Guatemalan indigo fabrics for your next project. You don't have to sew to use this cloth. Guatemalan textiles work well as-is for throws or tablecloths.
Gray fabrics work as neutrals in any interior space and Morrissey Fabric offers vintage shibori textiles in many shades of gray. Above are several vintage Asian hill tribe textiles in one of a kind gray hues. Each one is a slightly different color gray which gives these shibori fabrics their distinctive personality. The pillows in the center are two of a kind offered only at Morrissey Fabric.
Gray interior decor can be adapted to suit many styles. Above is a cozy space created by Decoratio. The rustic cottage furnishings and linen pillows work well to create a relaxing family room of gray. Who knew? Don't limit your impression of gray interiors to a contemporary modern style.
Gray interiors to minimal for you? Then add a bit of color to a gray-themed space. Sea glass greens and soft sky blue will give your room a coastal feel. Something as simple as glass bead garlands can be used as inspiration. Place the on a table top or window sill for extra color and a hint of sparkle.
Home BNC combined several neutral colors to the well designed kitchen and family room in the photo. The painting on the right in the interior space could easily have been the inspiration for the combination of colors in the rooms. Also note the pillows on the chairs. The prints have gray, white and various shades of soft blue.
Design Seeds provides well thought out color palettes for interior design inspiration. They get their color palettes from a source that never goes wrong; nature. When earning my BFA in painting, I had a color theory professor that had us bring cut flowers, twigs and leaves to the studio. She gave us the task of observing then painting all of the colors we could see within two of the items. It was a valuable lesson in training my eye for color. If you are stuck, look at nature and you will automatically be drawn to the colors you like best. It's a great jumping off point even if you later change direction.
Gray textiles can handle the addition of most any color. For this post I'm sticking with fabrics and accessories in greens and blues. What do you think of the photo by Heavy Threads? They successfully incorporated gray with indigo blue African textiles. Not only are the colors a win-win, the contemporary sofa in heather gray supports the vintage indigo textiles from Africa quite nicely.
The variety of African indigo textiles seen here will give you the relaxed look inspired by the Heavy Threads interior space. There is a wide selection in the Morrissey Fabric website store as well as in the Etsy shop. Or send me a message if you would like custom pillows. And just in case you are wondering, a future post will share ideas for using gray with pinks and yellows.
Vintage Guatemalan textiles come in the full range of colors. The texture of hand crafted patterns gives these unique fabrics extra depth. The additional embroidery detail stitched on top is called a randa. This randa is a decorative way to disquise two narrower pieces of cloth joined to make one wider cloth.
The sofa above is an amazing example of how to use vintage Guatemalan corte cloth for upholstery. The tight weave of the indigo textile almost looks like velvet. The embroidered randa of the corte cloth was skillfully placed to balance the focal points of the upholstery work. These Guatemalan textiles are very durable so this sofa will last for many years to come.
The indigo ikat corte cloth pillows above are a personal favorite of mine. These custom made pillows were sent to a client in Florida after hurricane Irma caused severe water damage to her home. The cheery feeling of the Guatemalan cloth is more subdued due to the dark indigo color. The colorful randa embroidery hints at at the artisan's joy in creating these corte fabrics.
Vintage corte cloth from Guatemala is hand made in many variations in many different villages.
It takes years to become an expert on where each style originates. But I rely on indigenous Guatemalan associates to assist in identifying each unique style. Each style of Guatemalan corte cloth is suited for various occasions, The green and black corte cloth above is right at home on the vintage cain-back chair.
The selection of Guatemalan textiles found in my shop varies daily. I'm always on the lookout for more vintage Guatemalan cloth to offer my on line customers. It's a pleasure to search out and discover these hand made Guatemalan textile treasures for your home and unique design vision.
Chinese Batik textiles have been a favorite of world-class interior designers and stylists for over a century. The durability of most Chinese batik fabrics lends itself to everything from upholstery to pillows. Most vintage pieces of Chinese batik, also called paste-resist, were not made from cotton but rather they were woven from hemp. Hemp is extremely durable and was therefore used for bed covers and outdoor garden seating in Asia.
The large indigo blue and white Chinese batik seen above is an example of a classic Chinese hill tribe pattern. This particular type of pattern is available in many similar variations. These batik textiles usually measure 76 to 84 inches long by 48 to 54 inches wide. The wide width is made by sewing three narrower panels of fabric together prior to the paste pattern application and the indigo dye process. If you look closely you will see the seams. These are part of the hand-made charm of these antique Chinese batik textiles.
A wing back chair gets a whole new look when reupholstered with indigo blue Chinese batik. It's likely that it took at least two large indigo batik textiles to upholster this grand chair. The addition of the batik pillow makes a nice compliment.
Chinese batik in gray is an update for this Chinoiserie textile. Originally indigo blue and white, a blend of hot water and various detergents turned this hemp cloth to gray. The repair patches add to the history of this vintage Chinese Batik fabric.
Vintage Chinese batik textiles sew up easily into pillows full of charm and style. The faded pieces are nice for a rustic romantic space. This type of Asian batik pillow also works in a coastal-style home because of the classic blue and white patterns.
For your next upholstery project consider using vintage Chinese batik textiles. These antique fabrics are usually made from hemp which is very durable. The indigo color will hold well because it's likely the blue and white batik has already been laundered dozens of times. I have found these vintage Chinese batik fabrics to be more durable than denim.
Not up for an entire chair upholstered out of these lively patterns? Then consider a pillow or two for a crisp addition to a global-style space or boho abode.
An evolving selection of vintage Chinese batik textiles is available in the Morrissey Fabric on line store. Also visit the Morrissey Fabric Etsy shop to find even more one-of-a-kind artisan-made vintage Chinese batik textiles.