I recently started offering globally sourced textile remnants in my Etsy shop and the grab bags have been received with great enthusiasm. I mistakenly assumed the buyers of these mud cloth and vintage indigo textiles would make patch work pillows and quilts out of the small pieces of fabric. I was pleasantly surprised to find that creative entrepreneurs were making baby shoes, doggie leash bags, totes, and plant holders with these one of a kind vintage and new pieces of artisan-made textiles.
Repurposing and recycling textiles is good for the earth. The last thing I want to do is put beautiful pieces of vintage textiles in a landfill where the spirit of their maker will be lost forever. So when my bin of damaged-beyond-repair textiles reached critical mass, my daughter Cate suggested it was time to create grab bag bundles. It may not be a money-maker for us given the time and labor involved in cutting, sorting, packaging and photographing these grab bag pieces, but it's worth the effort just to see how the modern makers use these vintage mud cloth, indigo, and global textiles to create one of a kind accessories. Plus there is the added benefit of knowing I'm not simply throwing away someone's woven history.
Above, the dog leash pouch by Moosewears is an item I least expected to see made from a piece of vintage African Baule cloth, but it's one of my favorites. Why carry around a generic mass-produced dog leash pouch when you can enjoy the artistry of this vintage African textile that has been up cycled into a one off accessory? When you purchase from a maker like Moosewears you are recycling, supporting several small businesses, and you get to look good doing it!
I will be posting more examples of how the vintage textile grab bag bundles have been up cycled into modern maker accessories very soon. But for now, above is a listing photo from Etsy of one of my multi-cultural global textile grab bag bundles. As you can see, there are plenty of unique artisan-made textiles to work with. What would you create with these global fabric remnants? Post a photo to Instagram or message me here or on Etsy and I just might share your project. Have fun. The only limit is your imagination.
African Textiles continue as a strong trend in home decor. Vintage Yoruba Aso Oke fabrics are gaining popularity as an alternative to African mud cloth. Aso Oke, like many African textiles, was originally created to be worn as a garment. These textural fabrics are also called Nigerian wrappers since they were and are worn as a shawl or wrap, typically for more formal occasions. As shown above, the pillows from My Haven Home are full of texture and character due to the contrasting colors and the eyelet detail.
A vintage Aso Oke textile is not always easy to find in good condition. Because they have been worn and perhaps in use for decades, often they are stained, the eyelet is torn, or sometimes the colors have bled. But these African textiles from the Yoruba people are larger than the average African mud cloth. The sizes are usually at least seventy two inches long by fifty inches wide or more. This will yield plenty of fabric to create some pillows even if there are damaged areas to the Aso Oke cloth.
The neutral brown and ivory Aso Oke pillow above was created by Adetutu Home. Once again the eyelet detail and simple geometric patterns give the pillow its unique and hand crafted appearance. Pillows are a wonderful way to repurpose vintage Aso Oke textiles, especially when you find one that still has plenty of workable cloth within the piece.
Yoruba Aso Oke textiles come in many variations and qualities. Some are flamboyant and colorful while others have a quite sophistication. The Aso Oke seen above has a sophisticated coloration appropriate to its mid-century origins. The organic fibers woven with eyelet details and black and gray stripes would be stunning simply displayed as a throw over the foot of a bed or sofa.
The Aso Oke pictured above is richly textured and colorful while still remaining sophisticated. By weaving black and sand colors through the cloth the artisan has given this textile a neutral base. The bright orange and hot pink combined with strands of silver and brass metallic thread create the excitement and outgoing personality seen in this Aso Oke textile. Can you picture some eclectic style pillows made from this African Fabric?
Not all Aso Oke is woven from taupe and sandy colors. The African culture is renowned for their love of bright hues so it follows that Aso Oke Nigerian wrappers would be woven in bright colors too. Above are examples of a yellow and turquoise Aso Oke and a purple and pink Aso Oke. These would be a fun addition to a childs room or eclectically styled space.
A final word about Yoruba Aso Oke textiles for home decor; African Aso Oke textiles are wonderful fabrics to use when texture and unique character are what you desire for a space. These vintage African fabrics can be fragile in nature due to eyelet details, color bleeding, and loosely woven designs, but these are the very characteristics that make Aso Oke textiles a treat to create with. Remember that the beauty is in the imperfections found in hand crafted items.
Morrissey Fabric is known as an on-line vintage textile retailer, but I also like to make pillows now and then to inspire our clientele. Every time pillows are made for the shop, I want to keep them for myself. The pair of African baule cloth pillows shown above are just such a set. The lightly faded indigo ikat fabric has personality simply not found in new cloth. The subtle colors woven into the African fabric give these one of a kind pillows that special touch.
African textiles such as Baule cloth and striped indigo embody a casual vibe. The indigo blue textiles can have a variety of shades of blue, yet the African textiles coordinate together beautifully. I like to use 100% linen for the back sides for a premium finish. I also use interlining on the reverse side of the vintage African indigo textiles to reinforce the delicate seams found on these strip cloth fabrics. It's an extra step, but it will give the one of a kind pillows a longer life.
Then there is the rustic beauty of the Asian hill tribe textiles. The hemp or linen textiles were originally woven to be thousand-pleat skirts. This is one of the reasons why the hill tribe striped cloth is woven so narrow. But don't let the twelve to fifteen inch width of these Asian hill tribe fabrics deter you. It's very simple to sew the narrow strips of cloth together resulting in a wider textile. The pillow above is constructed from two widths of natural and black striped hill tribe hemp. If you look closely you will see the seam in the center. This is a common practice among pillow makers and upholsters when they are creating with narrow textiles.
Chinese wedding blanket pillows are more upscale in price due to the high cost of the vintage wedding blanket textiles. These Chinese textiles are made by hill tribes such as Miao Minority and Hmong people. Most often the colors are vibrant when silk is used. But there are also hemp varieties of Chinese wedding blankets that can be seen in gray and indigo blue color. Many of the patterns incorporate flowers and ancient geometric shapes such as the swastika.
African mud cloth in the full array of earthy colors continues to go strong. African mud cloth has become a main-stay for many interior designers looking to keep a space inviting and organic. African mud cloth pillows are available in every price range too. Depending on the construction of the pillow and the quality of the mud cloth, the price points vary widely. At Morrissey Fabric my mud cloth pillows have linen backs, invisible zippers, reinforced backing for the mud cloth, and all seams are surged to prevent fraying. This places our mud cloth pillows in the mid to higher-end range. The premium quality you receive is worth every penny.
So go ahead and pick out a full assortment of global textile pillows, or select just one as your accent piece. Whatever you do, please be sure to view the selection here at my on line shop or my Etsy store.
I recently completed a one-of-a-kind upholstery project for Socorro, a women's retail clothing boutique in Santa Barbara, California. Socorro happens to be my mom, so this upholstery project was especially dear to me. When I asked my mom if she had a piece of furniture I could upholster with African indigo, she brought me this large bench seat. Originally the chair was covered with floral tapestry and had a floor-length skirt that hid the blonde wood legs.
As design often goes, there were some changes to the project from the original plan. When I draped the chair with vintage African indigo, I decided African indigo would not be neutral enough for the boutique. Socorro needed something that had earth-tones rather than a crisp blue and white textile for her Santa Barbara shop. The shape of the chair and the legs informed me that this mid-century piece was perfectly suited for mid-century African kuba cloth textiles. My mom agreed.
I'm not an upholsterer, but I decided to prep the fabric for the fellow I work with on upholstery projects. To prepare the African kuba cloth textiles, I opted to remove the hemmed edges on the pieces that had them. In the photo above you can see how I removed the kuba cloth hem from one side and pressed it open to lay flat. My upholsterer was concerned about ironing or steaming the kuba cloth, but since it is made with palm leaf fibers, I knew it should steam into shape like raffia does when hats are made. As you can see, steam-ironing the African kuba cloth worked beautifully.
After I removed all the hems from the African kuba cloth pieces, each one was ironed flat. I then put the kuba cloth textiles on the cutting board and straightened out the edges for sewing. I should mention that this particular African kuba cloth is nick-named kasai velvet. This term came about because the pile of the organic fibers is cut short to resemble velvet.
Since the chair was going to be placed within an active retail store environment, I took the extra step of reinforcing the cut edges of the kuba cloth textiles. I used a heavy, fusible interlining along each of the cut pieces of kuba cloth. The gray backing seen in the photos is the fusible interlining. I then overlocked the edges to help prevent unraveling of the kuba cloth textiles over time. I should also mention that this project required nine small kuba cloth textiles.
In the photos above you can see what the reverse-side and the face of the kuba cloth textiles looked like prior to upholstering. The three pieces of kuba cloth that were joined became the front of the chair where your back would rest. The solid color fabric sewn to the kuba cloth was used for "seam-allowance" for my upholster. I wanted to make sure he had plenty of fabric to tuck under the seat back. If I had more African kuba cloth textiles available at the time I would have used more kuba cloth instead of solid-color upholstery fabric.
For the back of the chair, I had one large kasai velvet kuba cloth that had fringe. Rather than trim the fringe off, I used this decorative detail from the kuba cloth as a novelty way to finish the back of the chair. Both my mom and I were very pleased with the results.
My upholstery man probably could have done the work I did to prep the kuba cloth textiles. But since the chair was for my mom, I did not mind taking on the extra work. If you want to see this kuba cloth chair in person, feel free to stop by Socorro in Santa Barbara to check it out. While you are there you might find something beautiful to wear too. And if you are looking for kuba cloth textiles, please visit the Morrissey Fabric on line store here or MorrisseyFabric.Etsy.com
Otomi textiles are also called Tenango. Whatever you call these beautiful hand embroidered fabrics, they will bring a smile to your day. Otomi fabrics are always one of a kind because they are not mass produced. The Otomi textiles I carry in my shop and on Etsy are authentic, 100% cotton pieces of art. The Otomi seen above is quite narrow and would work as a table runner or used as the center of custom pillows.
Mexican Otomi comes in a rainbow of colors. Sometimes the Tenango fabrics are all one color like the green Otomi above. The jungalow-style motifs in the Otomi make it a fun conversation piece. You could hang it as wall art of use as a table runner.
Most of the Otomi textiles I have sold this year are going to be used as wall decor. Some clients choose to mat and frame Otomi for a more formal appearance, while others simply use clear pins to attach their Otomi textile to the wall. The piece seen above measured 28 inches tall by 33 inches wide making it the perfect size Otomi to hang in a room as a focal point.
Smaller Mexican Otomi textiles are hand embroidered to be used as table placemats. I rarely have clients use them for this purpose for fear of staining the Otomi fabric while eating a meal. Otomi can not be bleached, but it is all cotton so you can wash it with a gentle detergent if it gets soiled. A word of warning though, it will need ironing and I suggest you iron Otomi on the back side of the fabric.
Otomi textiles can be found in simple black and white combinations for those who prefer a more subtle Mexican Tenango. Above, I displayed the black and natural Otomi with rustic farmhouse-style pillows crafted from vintage Hmong striped hemp fabric. Throw in a cactus or hanging plant for some color and you have an interesting global style space thanks to the Otomi fabric. You could easily use the Otomi as a table runner or custom order some pillows if you like. No matter how you style your Mexican Otomi, it will certainly help jump-start a conversation.
Boho-style pillows are a quick way to update a living space in need of a fresh look for 2018. This season I found my clients asking for very large pillows so of course I listened. Above are a pair of twenty-four-inch square pillows made from rustic vintage African indigo mud cloth. The faded blue and white stripes of the indigo will coordinate with beach cottage decor, rustic farmhouse style, or any interior space in need of a casual touch.
The Boho pillows seen above are one of a kind because they are crafted from vintage textiles in my studio in Long Beach California. The colorful pillow in front is made from a vintage Guatemalan huipil (blouse) and combined with unbleached cotton African mud cloth. The pillow in back is made from vintage African Baule cloth. Both are sewn with linen backs and invisible zippers so you can rotate the pattern to suit your needs.
Boho pillows made from vintage African Baule cloth are casual and comfy. This pair of boho-style pillows could work in a family room, kid's room, or anywhere indigo blue and white is part of the color story. The classic ikat pattern is one that works just about anywhere.
Mud cloth and African wool fulani make a nice combination for the boho pillows above. These limited edition pillows work in a global-style space or a rustic farmhouse family room. I made this pair of mud cloth pillows on the large side at twenty four inches square since bigger boho-style pillows have been in demand. But you could custom order a smaller size if you don't need such a large scale pillow. Simply contact me so I can give you a quote.
Gray continues to be a strong color trend in home decor for 2018. I used a vintage gray Chinese batik textile to make the lumbar pillow seen here for a custom order. The gray and white fish pattern textile is whimsical and unique. I should mention that I always back my vintage fabrics with a fusible interlining to reinforce them. This helps prevent fraying over time.
Boho-style pillows made from vintage Miao hill tribe wedding blanket fabrics are an upscale way to show your bohemian or chinoiserie style. Both of the pillows above are made with vintage silk hill tribe textiles. The vintage Miao hill tribe fabrics are typically durable and work well for upholstery and pillow covers. Over the past twelve months Miao hill tribe fabrics have doubled in price making them about the most expensive boho-style pillows you will find. They are worth every penny if you need that one special accent pillow.
Boho style pillows also include those made from vintage Asian Hmong fabrics. The striped Hmong fabric above was once part of a thousand-pleat skirt. This particular vintage Hmong fabric runs very narrow and long. On average, the width of a Hmong stripe fabric like this is twelve inches. But not to worry, simply stitch two narrow panels together to get enough width to make some rustic boho pillows. Look closely and you will see a seam in the center of the pillows where the textiles were sewn together. These black and white stripe pillows work as a neutral with any decor.
I currently offer Morrissey Fabric pillows on Etsy, but I will be adding them to this website in the Spring of 2018. Please message me from the contact page if you are in need of a particular boho-style pillow crafted from one of my vintage textiles.
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.