Vintage mud cloth possesses amazing hand made attributes. Classic mud cloth, or Bogolan, does not usually have fringe details. On the other hand, African Mossi, pronounced moe-shee, can be found with many different fringe designs. When I find a vintage African indigo Mossi with an unusual fringe detail I always buy it. I can repurpose this detail for a pillow or poncho. Above is one such example. I couldn't resist the small hand knots at the base of the long fringe since it was perfect as a pillow front focal point.
Vintage African textiles are available in an endless range of textures, details, and colors. Simply consider how large the continent is and it is easy to understand why there would be so many variations. Above is an example of combining two vintage African fabrics. A colorful antique Fulani and a vintage indigo Mossi were pieced together to create a one of a kind global-style pillow. This type of project is my favorite. It's satisfying to give new life to these fabrics.
Repurposing these antique African textiles into apparel is not new. After all, the vintage Mossi was originally woven to worn as a garment. Sometimes the mud cloth and indigo was made into simple pullover ponchos. The modern version seen here was made from one very large vintage African indigo. It was so wide, I was able to use four side panels to create a kangaroo pocket. A separate scrap was used for the fringe patch at the center front.
Occasionally I find an African shibori dyed indigo with fringe and embroidery. I do not like to cut these vintage textiles because they have survived for many decades. It seems a shame to cut them apart. This blue and white African indigo has the addition of a decorative tribal pattern stitched on top in black and red. A textile like this works well as a scarf or wrap. All I had to do was clean it.
When indigo Mossi is first woven, it is natural in color before it is dyed indigo blue. I find these undyed natural cotton textiles on occasion and usually they are quite dirty. After cleaning, the remaining textile is beautiful. Some have simple fringe while others have a decorative stripe detail woven into the cloth for visual interest. If over dyed with indigo, the contrast is barely visible. But when left in the natural state, the detail becomes a stand out feature.
Because I purchase hundreds of pieces of African mud cloth and indigo I don't always catch the non-repairable damages. Other times I am not able to eliminate stains or repair torn areas I thought I could fix. It is these textiles that still have beauty to share so I cut them into smaller scraps for repurposing. Clever makers create one of a kind accessories like makeup bags and sunglass cases.
It's all about the details for me. When you look closely you will find the lovely hand made details in vintage mud cloth and indigo are worth preserving. Find vintage textile pillows and mud cloth grab bags in my Etsy shop.
I have this fascination with vintage textiles from all parts of the globe. As someone who loves to repurpose items or textiles whenever possible, the current trend for vintage textile pillows is my kind of trend.
One way to source vintage fabric is from vintage Asian Hill Tribe skirts. They are taken apart and the cloth is sold in the form of narrow rolls of fabric. Just such a cloth was used to make the pillow shown above. The vintage hand made cloth has one of a kind batik and Shibori patterns. The muted gray designs compliment many types of styles from ultra modern to rustic farm house.
African mud cloth has become so popular it has many in the design field wondering when the trend might burn out. But with the lure of one of a kind hand made vintage fabric that comes in so many variations, there doesn't seem to be an end in sight.
The vintage mud cloth pillow shown above has a classic, coastal beach cottage vibe. The soft African strip cloth fits right in with many types of home decor.
Vintage African mud cloth comes in so many colors certainly there is one to fit within your current design scheme. The rare brown and beige mud cloth used for the pillow above yielded only two pillows. Each authentic mud cloth pillow has a different pattern. This type of mud cloth was created pre mid-century by an African artisan using fermented mud paints to create the graphic pattern. In the studio I always fuse the back side of the vintage textiles prior to sewing to ensure they will wear well. I also prefer to use 100% linen for the backs.
Vintage Miao Minority textiles make excellent pillows. These beautiful wedding textiles are all one of a kind and woven by hand. The pillow shown above is an unusual color for a Hill Tribe wedding blanket. The soft salmon pink with burnished gold make for a stunning accent piece. It would look lovely atop an all white bed, or as a warm contrast to a gray sofa.
To wrap up for today's post, I'll conclude with a very popular vintage textile pillow made from Chinese hill tribe striped hemp. Originally woven to be sewn into skirts, this rustic and textural fabric runs so narrow that two pieces need to be sewn side by side to create a pillow front. This is a standard practice with this type of cloth. This particular pillow has a soft gray/black stripe suitable for a neutral color scheme.
Find more pillows like these in the on line shop. Or visit www.morrisseyfabric.etsy.com for vintage textiles to DIY pillows. You can also send me a message if you want to inquire about a custom pillow order.
Mud cloth is a hand made African textile that has been strong in home decor for much longer than many current design trends. I believe this is because it ticks many boxes within much larger trends. Authentic mud cloth is hand made, natural fiber (cotton), and has a recognizable global style. This post is about authentic mud cloth, or strip cloth, and will compare the antique and vintage versus the newly crafted mud cloth. Colored with natural dyes, mud cloth can be found from the rarest antique museum quality to newly-made, non-traditional colors and patterns.
It's not historically informed for African mud cloth to be produced in pastel colors such as dove gray or petal pink. But as the slub-filled rustic texture of mud cloth grew in popularity, designers requested colors and patterns that would more easily translate into Western culture homes. Major trend purchases like gray sectional sofas could be easily refreshed with mud cloth pillows in coordinating colors like those seen above. As one high-end African textile dealer said to me, "these are trendy, not classics." Given the number of pieces I have shipped in these colors, obviously there is plenty of room for trendy mud cloth in the market as well as the traditional beauties.
So let me explain briefly some of the the differences between vintage and antique mud cloth, or Bogolan, versus the newly produced, also authentic African mud cloth. Mud cloth has been hand produced by indigenous cultures on the African continent for decades. It was woven from cotton fibers, then the symbolic tribal patterns were applied with fermented mud paints and dyes. Sometimes the patterns were painted onto the mud cloth with a brush or a resist-dye method was used to express the geometric designs.
Above is a very old Bogolan created in the early 1900s. It was crafted entirely by hand including the weave, the hand sewn seams, the one of a kind pattern, and the mud dye bath that was used. If you look closely, you can see the skill involved to create this antique textile. Note how the cotton fibers are refined and closely woven, and see if you can find the tiny hand stitching that holds the strips of cloth together.
Because not everyone can afford or may not want an antique mud cloth that is decades old, new versions have been crafted. Newly produced mud cloth is still woven, colored, and printed by hand, but it doesn't have the refined appearance or patina that the older Bogolan has. This modern mud cloth is ideal for projects such as upholstery or pillow making. It has a thicker, coarser hand than the vintage pieces, but it is also more durable.
The black and white home decor trend paved the way for mud cloth to gain a strong foothold in the market. Consumers had the option of selecting recognizable tribal patterns or less obviously-African geometric designs.
Over the past four years I have sold just about every kind of mud cloth imaginable. The example on the far left has very traditional colors and can easily be identified as an African textile. The earthy rust and brown colors above are also more traditional, but due to their monochromatic geometric design, this type of mud cloth has become very popular for a wider range of customers.
In contrast to the first photo of authentic vintage bogolan, the examples above are an entirely modern interpretation of hand made mud cloth. The simple bar or dash graphic printed in white on pink has a much different aesthetic. The Malian dealer I purchase this hand made cloth from disclosed that the dye is actually from Germany so that it will not fade. The soft yellow mud cloth on the right is also hand made and hand printed, but the gray color graphic is a modern twist.
So the next time you are in search of an antique or modern mud cloth, I hope you will take a look at the Morrissey Fabric offerings. I have a selection on this website as well as the Etsy shop. Don't see what you are looking for? Shoot me a line and make a request. I will do my best to source what you are looking for.
Here at Morrissey Fabric I have been repurposing and selling vintage global textiles as a business since 2015. Decades ago I fell in love with the textures that can only be found in hand crafted, loomed-by-hand fabrics. Just recently I put together a group of Guatemalan indigo pillows that each have hand-embroidered details. The indigo is durable and colorfast, and the hand embroidery is heavy, so making pillows has given the textile a second life as home decor.
The faded denim textile the pillow rests upon is an authentic African Mossi, commonly known as mud cloth.
Clients often ask about the origin of my vintage textiles. What they don't realize, is that many fabrics come from garments. I find these garments in countries where hand crafting is celebrated and the skills are carried down through generations. In the example above, a Guatemalan woman is wearing a Huipil (Blouse) and a Corte (skirt) filled with colorful indigenous patterns. This may help to visualize how the fabric in the first photo of the pillow was originally worn.
Beautiful textiles have been a source of income to Guatemalan villages for centuries. Each small town has a specific woven pattern that identifies the place of origin. Seen in the "Friducha" dolls hand made for Folk Project, Huipil remnants now honor Frida Kahlo. Repurposing the vintage textiles into one of a kind dolls is a wonderful way to educate people about the artist and Guatemalan culture.
Creating products with anything vintage usually means some clean up is going to be necessary. This is certainly the case with antique textiles. Sure, you can skip the washing, but I don't recommend it. I always hand wash or gentle machine wash vintage textiles. You should test a corner to be certain the colors won't bleed. It is likely natural dyes were used and not all of them are colorfast. Caution is always essential. You can find Guatemalan corte fabric like this in the MorrisseyFabric.Etsy.com shop.
I hope you can see the joy I find in repurposing vintage textiles. The accessories and pillows you find in my shop were crafted in California from textiles that already had a life as apparel. Now that I'm in my fifties, I see this process as a reflection of my own creative life. I began my career as a fashion designer, and my current life is to reimagine antique apparel into something new.
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.