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.
The sarape is a long blanket-like shawl, often brightly colored and fringed at the ends, worn in Mexico, especially by men. The term sarape is for the rectangular woven blanket, though in more recent years it can also be used to refer to a very soft rectangular blanket with an opening in the middle for one’s head, similar to a poncho called gabán, or jorongo in Mexico.
Huipil is the most common traditional garment worn by indigenous women from central Mexico to Central America.
It is a loose-fitting tunic, generally made from two or three rectangular pieces of fabric which are then joined together with stitching, ribbons or fabric strips, with an opening for the head and, if the sides are sewn, openings for the arms. Traditional huipils, especially ceremonial ones, are usually made with fabric woven on a backstrap loom and are heavily decorated with designs woven into the fabric, embroidery, ribbons, lace and more. However, some huipils are also made from commercial fabric.
Lengths of the huipil can vary from a short blouse-like garment or long enough to reach the floor. The style of traditional huipils generally indicates the ethnicity and community of the wearer as each have their own methods of creating the fabric and decorations. Some huipils have intricate and meaningful designs. Ceremonial huipils are the most elaborate and are reserved for weddings, burials, women of high rank and even to dress the statues of saints.
Ñandutí is a traditional Paraguayan embroidered lace. The name means “spider web” in Guaraní, the official, indigenous language of Paraguay.
The lace is worked on fabric which is stretched tightly in a frame. The pattern is drawn on the fabric and the threads, which go to-and-fro across the circular motif and are either taken through running stitches worked along the pattern lines or stitched directly through the fabric. When finished, the motifs are released by either cutting the running stitches or cutting away the backing fabric. While single motifs can be worked like this, it is more usual to work the whole item as one piece – the pattern for the complete mat or collar is drawn on the fabric and the wheels are linked together as the radial threads are laid down.
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.
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.
Yarn bombing is a form of street art made by covering objects in public space with colorful knitted or crocheted patches. It is also known as guerilla knitting. The technique was first practised in Texas, US, but has spread all over the world.
Bobbin lace is a lacemaking technique made by braiding and twisting lengths of thread wound on bobbins. As the work progresses, the weaving is held in place with pins set in a lace pillow. A pattern or pricking pinned on the pillow determines the placement of the pins.
Bobbin lace is also known as pillow lace (because it was worked on a pillow) and bone lace (because early bobbins were made of bone or ivory)
Bobbin lace is one of the two major categories of handmade laces, the other being needlelace, derived from earlier cutwork and reticella.
Otomi embroidery is a traditional technique from the Otomi people living on the central plateau of Mexico. Stylized figurative elements are arranged in a mostly symmetric form. According to legends, the animals depicted stem from cave paintings in the area, and often figures from amate paper cut outs made by local healers, however the style has influences of Spanish and aztec aesthetics as well.
Following a severe drought in the area in the 1960s, a simplified form of the craft, called Tenango, was developed to bring new sources of income to the region.
The mola or molas, forms part of the traditional outfit of a Kuna woman in Panama. Two mola panels belong together as front and back panels in a blouse. The full costume traditionally includes a patterned wrapped skirt (saburet), a red and yellow headscarf (musue), arm and leg beads (wini), a gold nose ring (olasu) and earrings in addition to the mola blouse (dulemor).
In Dulegaya, the Kuna’s native language, “mola” means “shirt” or “clothing”. The mola originated with the tradition of Kuna women painting their bodies with geometric designs, using available natural colors; in later years these same designs were woven in cotton, and later still, sewn using cloth bought from the European settlers of Panamá.
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