See us at Festival of Quilts : 6-9 Aug : NEC, Birmingham

Our new stand number is H41

Next week - 7 to 9 August - is Europe's biggest and best quilt show and exhibition at the NEC, Birmingham.

We'll be there - of course - but in a new location: stand H41.

This week Magie, Isobel, Alison and Bob are working flat out preparing.

We'll have some great NEW TEMPTATIONS on the stand, including:

  • NEW Shwe Shwe Colours range of fabrics: Also available online NOW!
  • NEW Amafu hand-dyes from South Africa
  • NEW Langa Lapu sunprints from South Africa
  • NEW Bolga baskets... be quick to get first choice!

More info: www.thefestivalofquilts.co.uk

We'll have full fabric lengths, bundles, packs, kits and fat quarters galore at Festival of Quilts!

See you there! And remember: stand H41.

View and buy: NEW Shwe Shwe colours


'The new Shwe Shwe's here, the new Shwe Shwe's here':
Magie and Isobel sorting out the fantastic new range of colours:

NEW Kola nut & indigo: Musa has been hard at work

Our great friend Musa Jaiteh is a true champion of the traditional dye stuffs of the Senegambia region: kola nut & indigo. His hand-dyed fabrics and panels are beautiful beyond words, so we won't even try.

Musa Jaiteh at work in his compound in The Gambia

Click to order kola and indigo fabric

View and buy:
Kola & indigo fabrics

Click to order kola and indigo fabric

View and buy:
Kola & indigo fabrics

Click to order kola and indigo fabric

View and buy:
Kola & indigo panels

Click to order kola and indigo fabric

Show & Tell Open Day

We love to see how creative you are with our African fabrics. So, how's this for a great idea?

At our next Shop Open Day you are invited to bring along a quilt or other item that you've made using our fabrics.

With your permission, we'll be photographing your creations throughout the day and putting them up on our Facebook page.

Which means that even if you can't make the day, you can still follow the excitement live on Facebook! Neat, eh?

Saturday 15 Aug, 10am - 4pm


The Saturday Boy's second quilt made using African wax prints:
Bob pieced the top and Magie did the quilting

NEW fabrics and textiles now on the website: Why not have a look?

NEW limited edition batik adventure packs: colours galore!

Magie and Isobel have just put together some great new adventure packs of hand-dyed batik, mostly from Ghana.

These are all NEW designs and combinations. For many of these packs, stock is limited, so: the early bird catches the worm!

View and buy: NEW African fabric adventure packs

News from Bolgatanga, Ghana

Many of you have recently heard at our World Textile Days Bob's 20-minute talk called 'From Bolga to Basket Case' in which he recounts one of his early adventures to buy our astounding baskets in the remote north of Ghana.

Well... when the baskets are flyng - as they have been recently - and we just can't squeeze in a buying trip to Bolga, fear not: all we need to do is contact our friend and basket guru Gregory MacCarthy.

As proprietor of the Baba Tree Basket Company, Greg has been living and working with the basket-weaving community for about ten years now. We can always rely on Greg to ship us a few sacks of top quality 'top up' baskets to get us through until our next junket.

The sacks arrived the other day and what can we say? Great colours, great baskets.

So if you're planning on doing some basket shopping at Festival of Quilts, here's a tip. Come early for the best choice. Nuff said.

View and buy: Bolgatanga fair trade baskets


Bob choosing bowl baskets in Bolga:
We only have a few left so be quick at Festival of Quilts!

Kuba cloths from the Congo

Kuba is one of the truly unique and astounding African textile traditions.

These cloths are hand-woven using raffia palm in the Congo.

They demonstrate a variety of textile techniques, such as: patchwork, appliqué, embroidery and embellishment.

Beautiful!

View and buy: Kuba Cloth

Ghana Bead Culture on YouTube

Magie is a member of the Ghana Bead Society, which works to promote the Ghana bead culture and industry within Ghana and around the world.

This short but fascinating glimpse of Ghana's bead culture was filmed at a recent Society Bazaar.

Enjoy: Watch Ghana bead video

Exclusive African Fabric Shop discount price

African Wax Print: A Textile Journey

African wax print holds a very special place in Magie's heart. When she first ventured into the chaos of an African market in 1984, African wax print fabric just grabbed her. It hasn't let go since.

Not only does Magie use African wax print fabric in her work as a textile artist, she has done extensive research into its history, manufacture, design, use and importance as an icon of African style.

So here we have it: the only book devoted exclusively to African wax print fabric!

Tick box to select item. You can change the quantity after clicking "Add to Basket"

Book only, unsigned £10.00

Why not have your book signed and gift wrapped in a fat quarter of colourful African wax print fabric?

Signed copy - gift wrapped in African wax print fabric: £12.00

I love this book. It is interesting, informative, funny, thought provoking. The Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. Spring 2011.

Magie and Bob took me on a magical journey to Africa through not only their words, but the images and inspirational textile art that illustrate their story. A fabric feast to make your mouth water. Janice Gunner, stitched textile artist and author of Shibori for Textile Artists.

Only £10.00

Magie Relph

Tuareg Bag

Magie's latest creation replicates the leather bags carried by Tuareg nomads as they cross the Sahara by camel caravan.

The Tuareg carry with them all of their meagre valuables, including verses from the Koran and silver.

Magie's bag is made from bark cloth. It contains a full set of 21 Agadez crosses which Bob bought from a Tuareg silversmith 30 years ago. The crosses represent the principal trading towns of the Sahara, including Agadez.

View whole bag

View detail

View: Bark Cloth

Click to enlarge

Tuareg Bag
© Magie Relph

Helen Cowans

Indigo Quilt

Helen Cowans is an inspired artist and an inspiring teacher based in Northumberland.

She made this quilt using a variety of our indigo fabrics for her mother.

Excellent, Helen!

View: Full quilt

View: African hand-dyed batik fabrics.

Click to enlarge

Detail of Indigo Quilt
© Helen Cowans

Annie Marsters

Isipathi Zwamanzi

'Safe water saves lives': and international aid organisation Just a Drop is providing just that across Africa and the developing world.

In support of a water project in rural Kenya, Annie Marsters created Isipathi Zwamanzi - 'The Water Carrier'.

She used polymers to harden and sculpt our Amafu fabrics and dress her figure of a woman carrying water. Wonderful!

Even more wonderful, her piece raised £1,000 at auction which went directly to the Kenya water project. Well done, Annie!

View: Amafu fabrics from South Africa.

Click to enlarge

Isipathi Zwamanzi
© Annie Marsters

Now on YouTube: How to reshape a Bolga basket

When we post out our fantastic made in Ghana fair trade Bolga baskets, we send them flattened and wrapped in bubble wrap: 'Flat as a hat,' in Bob's words.

Our baskets are so well made that reshaping them to perfection is easy and only takes a few minutes.

To show you how, Bob has just published on You Tube a short video: How to reshape a Bolga basket.

View: Bolga Fair Trade Baskets

The African Fabric Shop Supports the Dream Children's Home in Kenya

Africa is very important to us and we travel there as often as we can to source new fabrics, beads and baskets. In addition to supporting small-scale craft producers, we try to give a bit more back to Africa by donating to small African charities.

On Magie's latest trip to Kenya she visited the Dream Children's Home in the Ngong Hills near Nairobi. This inspiring project provides shelter, food, clothing, medical care, counselling, education and hope for needy orphans who have nowhere else to turn.

We are now supporting the Dream Children's Home directly through our own modest donation programme. For every sale of our Safari and Skin Print fabrics and Safari Print Adventrue Packs, we donate a percentage to this very worthy cause.

Find our more: www.dreamchildrenshome-kenya-orphanage.org

And donate directly: www.betterplace.org

Using African Fabrics

What can you do with African fabrics?

Answer: Visit our customer gallery, aptly called Using African Fabrics.

From quilts to wallhangings. From bags to clothing. You're sure to be inspired by what our innovative and creative customers have been working on.