African indigo, frequently called mud cloth, is created with a technique of resist dying. The Japanese call this process shibori dying. Simply stated, patterns are created on a natural color mud cloth by hand stitching designs to the cloth. The hand maker then pulls the threads tightly resulting in a crumpled mass of fabric. The mud cloth is then dipped into a large indigo dye vats. The areas of the mud cloth that have been restricted by the tightly stitched thread resist the indigo dye. The textile is removed from the vat, the thread is clipped and removed, and a one of a kind graphic pattern remains where the thread once was,
photo credit: Rug and Weave
African indigo with graphic patterns lends a colorful appeal to any space. Indigo blue is naturally at home among many colors too.
Photo credit: My Mercantile Shop
Indigo mud cloth comes in new versions, but my personal favorites are the vintage pieces. The vintage African indigo textiles tend to be lighter in weight and have a denim washed quality that can only come with time. The African indigo shown above has a sturdy weight that makes it appropriate for upholstery, pillow covers, or simply use as a wall hanging.
Photo credit: Morrissey Fabric
The African indigo shown above is unique in that it was clearly made by hand stitching two mud cloths that were hand crafted at different times. I called this African mud cloth textile "two-for-one" since that's quite literally what it is.
The tote bag shown here is one example of putting the graphic details of an African indigo to good use when repurposed into accessories. The African indigo mud cloth used was sturdy enough to create a lovely bag that is a casual-style winner. Tote by will leather goods.
Photo credit: geographie
Is African indigo mud cloth a textile on your future project list? If so, please visit my Etsy shop for a huge selection of vintage pieces.
If you don't see an African indigo you love, please message me and I'd be happy to search for that perfect piece.
Blog post by Anita Morrissey, owner & curator of Morrissey Fabric