Mudcloth pillows seem to be everywhere recently. Their minimal, handcrafted style fits into almost any design aesthetic. Traditional mudcloth pillows feature African patterns on natural flax cotton.
“Also known as bògòlanfini, mud cloth is a traditional handmade Malian cotton fabric that is dyed using fermented mud. The textile’s origins date back to the 12th century, when the tradition was for men to weave the cloth and women to dye the fabric and paint the repeated motifs. In Malian culture, bògòlanfini is worn by hunters as camouflage and by women after their initiation into adulthood. Today, the graphic textiles are adorning all sorts of interior pieces, from chairs and sofas to throw pillows and framed works.” (History of Mudcloth)
Pictured below are a few of my favorite mudcloth pillows from around the web. Traditional canvas or cotton pillows have steep price tags, running about $50-$70 per pillow.
Their simple geometric patterns are easy enough to imitate with a yard of muslin and a sharpie paint pen! My husband’s family stayed with us over Christmas, and my mother-in-law got a vintage sewing machine! We tested out the new machine and made this 20×20″ mudcloth pillow cover in under an hour with a few simple materials and tools.
- 1 yd. Muslin
- Black oil based Sharpie paint pen
- 20×20 Pillow insert or stuffing (I had an IKEA insert on hand, but I usually fill throw pillows with a cotton fiber from Walmart. It costs $5 for a small bag, and $10 for a large bag that can fill many pillows!)
(these are things I already had on hand that are typically required for any sewing project)
- Sewing Machine
- Grey thread
- Iron + Ironing Board
- Ruler or Straightedge
- Measure and cut fabric. This envelope closure pillow is made from three separate pieces. The front piece (which will contain your pattern) measures 21×21″. The back of the pillow has two overlapping pieces that form the envelope closure. The bottom piece measures 21×18″. The top piece measures 21×11″. This allows for 7 inches of overlapping fabric to keep the insert or filling securely in place. The diagram below shows how to get the most out of 1 yard of fabric. The pink dotted lines represent the 1/2 inch seam allowance.
- Iron all 3 pieces.
- Fold and iron 1/4 hem on one edge of each back piece. Leave the iron on to be used later.
- Sew hems on top and bottom back pieces.
- Draw pattern on front piece. Place fabric over cardboard to protect your table surface.
- Measure and draw horizontal lines lightly in pencil. Draw your first line at half an inch (this is the seam allowance. This top line will be the very top of the visible part of pillow) and continue drawing horizontal lines 1.5 inches apart.
- Fill in each horizontal line with pattern from left to right. I started with the vertical lines and continued the pattern pictured below.
- Repeat until all horizontal lines are filled.
- Piece fabric together.
- Lay front piece flat on table with pattern facing up.
- Lay small, top back piece with wrong side up.
- Lay large, bottom back piece with wrong side up overlapping smaller back piece.
- Pin edges together.
- Sew edges together with 1/2 inch seam allowance.
- Trim corners.
- Press seams open. Turn iron off.
- Turn cover right sides out.
- Insert pillow or stuffing.
And you’re done! I still can’t decide where I want to keep this pillow. I want one for every room! I think it looks great in our minimal guest room, but I’d love to make some more for the living room.
Shoutout to my awesome mother-in-law, Sondra, for doing the sewing and helping put together this tutorial!
Thanks for reading this tutorial! Good luck with all of your DIY endeavors, and I would love to see your creations!