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.