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