Give your living room some visual oomph with easy and creative projects that employ the graphic geometric motifs found in West African mudcloth.

Mudcloth living room

Don’t shy away from mixing and matching mudcloth designs—as we did in this living room with a traditional mudcloth throw, a new hand-painted pillow and an illustrated end table. The use of simple shapes and neutral hues means all these objects look at home in the same setting. Mudcloth-inspired furnishings are perfect for casual, modern interiors—like our bedroom created with geometric motifs and dining room enhanced with mudcloth designs.

Mudcloth throw

Create a new personality for plain furniture with a throw made of hand-painted mudcloth from West Africa. (You can find examples on Back the mudcloth with color-coordinated fabric to give it some stability and weight.

What You’ll Need

  • Large piece of traditional mudcloth
  • Coordinating fabric
  • Coordinating thread
  • Needle or sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Iron
  • Pins

Mudcloth throw backing

Using either a needle and thread or the sewing machine, sew a ½-inch hem around the mudcloth on all sides.

Cut a piece of fabric the same size as the hemmed mudcloth. Fold down a ½-inch allowance all around the fabric and press with the iron.

Lay the fabric on the back of the mudcloth, centering it on the cloth. Pin the two pieces together and stitch the fabric in place by hand with a slip stitch or with a running stitch on the sewing machine ¼ inch from the fabric edge around all sides.

Pillow and throw

Don’t let the idea of blending DIY accents like this hand-painted pillow with purchased ones stop you from being original. After all, traditional Mali mudcloth is handcrafted from beginning to end. And it’s the imperfections that give artisanal objects their unique identities and remind us what it is to be creative human beings—just like the people of Mali.

Hand-painted pillow

What You’ll Need

  • White pillow (ours is from Ikea—$4!)
  • Modern Masters Paint, ME289-06 Brass, 6 ounces
  • Broad artist’s brush
  • Pencil

Lightly pencil in a design of geometric shapes reminiscent of those found on traditional mudcloth.

Using the artist’s brush, dry-brush over the pencil lines with the metallic brass paint. Leave edges of the painted lines raw and uneven. Let dry.

Tabletop with marker designs

Inspired by the mudcloth throw, the patterns drawn on this end table turn it into an ethnically printed accent piece.

Tabletop with mudcloth motifs

Create your own version by using an oil-base marker to adorn a tabletop with rows of geometric shapes that reflect the mystique of West Africa. Seal with polyurethane to protect your work from spills.’

Painted rope basket

Whether you make your own rope basket from cotton clothesline or buy a prefab version (available on, the ribbed, plain white surface works perfectly for creating mudcloth-inspired home decor.

Painted rope basket detail

Just use paint or permanent marker in a contrasting color to draw rows of patterns using simple geometric shapes. Use the rope’s ribbed construction to stay on track without measuring.


© Caruth Studio

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