Kuba textiles are elaborate embroidered cloth made of raffia (palm leaf) fiber, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They are unique in their elaboration and complexity of design and surface decoration.
Most textiles are a variation on rectangular or square pieces of woven raffia fiber enhanced by geometric designs executed in linear embroidery in flat-stitch and cut-pile stitching, the latter creating surfaces resembling velvet.
The textiles of the Kuba kingdom influenced numerous internationally renowned artists of the 20th century such as Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee and Henri Matisse—Matisse kept a large collection on display in his studio.
The Khasa are strip-woven wool blankets from the Fulani people in West Africa.
Many of the Fulani live a nomadic life. The heavy Khasa blankets serve to protect the cattle herders, or Wodaabe, from the cold in winter and the mosquitos. The weight and the thickness of the blankets are important for this purpose. Typically, after use by the herders, the blankets are sold to traders, repaired and resold throughout West Africa.
The Khasa blanket is made on a double-heddle loom by hereditary male weavers, the Madoube. The cloth is woven in narrow strips, sewn together into the final blanket.
Barkcloth is a versatile material that was once common in Asia, Africa, Indonesia, and the Pacific. Barkcloth comes primarily from trees of the Moraceae family, including Broussonetia papyrifera, Artocarpus altilis, and Ficus natalensis. It is made by beating sodden strips of the fibrous inner bark of these trees into sheets, which are then finished into a variety of items. Many texts that mention “paper” clothing are actually referring to barkcloth.
The Barkcloth has been manufactured in Uganda for centuries and is Uganda’s sole representative on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.
Tapa cloth was used traditionally used for clothing throughout the Pacific, and in many places remains important culturally. Some communities are reviving this practice. At Monbang traditional village on Alor Island, Indonesia, tourists can see members of the Kabola ethnic group wear barkcloth and dance traditional dances.
Quilting is the process of sewing two or more layers of fabric together to make a thicker padded material, usually to create a quilt or quilted garment. Typically, quilting is done with three layers: the top fabric or quilt top, batting or insulating material and backing material, but many different styles are adopted.
The process of quilting uses a needle and thread to join two or more layers of material to make a quilt. The quilter’s hand or sewing machine passes the needle and thread through all layers and then brings the needle back up. The process is repeated across the entire area where quilting is wanted. Rocking, straight or running stitches are commonly used with these stitches being purely functional or decorative. Quilting is done to create bed spreads, art quilt wall hangings, clothing, and a variety of textile products. Quilting can make a project thick, or with dense quilting, can raise one area so that another stands out.
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Darning is a sewing technique for repairing holes or worn areas in fabric or knitting using needle and thread alone. It is often done by hand, but it is also possible to darn with a sewing machine. Hand darning employs the darning stitch, a simple running stitch in which the thread is “woven” in rows along the grain of the fabric, with the stitcher reversing direction at the end of each row, and then filling in the framework thus created, as if weaving. Darning is a traditional method for repairing fabric damage or holes that do not run along a seam, and where patching is impractical or would create discomfort for the wearer, such as on the heel of a sock.
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Shweshwe is a type of dyed and printed cotton fabric used in traditional South-African clothing. Originally with indigo, it’s now made in variety of colours and designs, featuring intricate geometric patterns. It’s made in a intricate discharge process. First the fabric is dyed entirely, then passed through copper design rollers. The copper rollers emit an acid solution which removes the color with pinpoint accuracy to form the pattern. The use of picotage, tiny pin dots that create designs, texture and depth, is characteristic to shweshwe.
The characteristic fabric has been called the denim, or tartan, of South Africa. Shweshwe is also known as “german print” (sejeremane in Sotho, ujamani in Xhosa) after 19th century german and swiss settlers who imported the Blaudruck fabric.
Adinkra are visual symbols that represent concepts or aphorisms, used extensively in fabrics and pottery among the Ashantis in Ghana and Baoulés in Cote D’Ivoire. Adinkra cloth is made by block printing as well as screen printing. The present centre of traditional production of adinkra cloth is Ntɔnso, 20 km northwest of Kumasi.
Akwete cloth is a handwoven textile from Igboland, Nigeria. The traditional Igbo weaving as demonstrated in Akwete, processes sisal-hemp, raffia and cotton into finished products.
Adire (Yoruba: tie and dye) textile is the indigo-dyed cloth made in southwestern Nigeria by Yoruba women, using a variety of resist-dyeing techniques. As the translation of the name suggests, the earliest pieces of this type were probably simple tied designs on cotton cloth handspun and woven locally (rather like those still produced in Mali), but in the early decades of the 20th century new access to large quantities of imported shirting material via the spread of European textile merchants in Abeokuta and other Yoruba towns caused a boom in these women’s entrepreneurial and artistic efforts, making adire a major local craft in Abeokuta and Ibadan, attracting buyers from all over West Africa. The cloth’s basic shape became that of two pieces of shirting material stitched together to create a women’s wrapper cloth. New techniques of resist dyeing developed.
Nigeria is also known for its two-tone indigo resist designs, created by repeat dyeing of cloth painted with cassava root paste to create a deep blue; the paste is then washed out and the cloth dyed a final time. Quality cloth is dyed 25 or more times to create a deep blue-black color before the paste is washed out. Additional forms of indigo resist-dyeing exist in other parts of West Africa; for example, the Bamana of Mali use mud resist, while Senegalese dyers use rice paste rather than cassava root. And the Ndop of Cameroon use both stitch resist and wax resist.
Kente is a type of silk and cotton fabric made of interwoven cloth strips and is native to the Akan tribe in Ghana. Kente is made in Akan lands such as Ashanti Kingdom and by Akans in Ivory Coast. It is also worn by many other groups who have been influenced by Akans. Kente comes from the word kenten, which means basket in Akan dialect Asante. Akans refer to kente as nwentoma, meaning woven cloth.
Bògòlanfini or bogolan (Bambara: bɔgɔlanfini; “mud cloth”) is a handmade Malian cotton fabric traditionally dyed with fermented mud. It has an important place in traditional Malian culture and has, more recently, become a symbol of Malian cultural identity. The cloth is being exported worldwide for use in fashion, fine art and decoration.
Today, the center of bògòlanfini production, and the source of the highest quality cloth, is the town of San. Traditionally, bògòlanfini production, was done by men weaving the cloth and women dye it. On narrow looms, strips of cotton fabric about 15 cm wide are woven and stitched into cloths about 1 by 5 m long.