Using Mudcloth (or ANY Bold Print) Fabric in Home Decor
What is mudcloth? This seems to be one of the new interior trends. I am suddenly seeing it everywhere and it inspired me to find some for my black & white office. Mudcloth is an African fabric. Why is it called mudcloth? It is traditionally made of 100% cotton cloth that is painted with a dark mud and left to ferment. The color on the cream background comes from the mud.
It is typically available in earthy colors like off-white, black, and rust with a tribal pattern. The final product has a very global, bohemian look. It can also fit well with a mid-century style.
Where to Buy Mudcloth
You can buy fabric that has the look of mudcloth that is not dyed using mud. This is a great way to get the look of mudcloth patterns at a more affordable price point. If you want authentic cloth be sure to ask or read the fabric details before you buy.
Authentic mudcloth can be expensive at $75 per yard or more. After looking online I found the most choices for different prints and colors on Etsy, especially if you want the real thing. Africa Imports also sells authentic mud cloth made in Africa.
The neat thing about a real piece of African mudcloth is that it has unique, different patterns, and has its own story to tell. Each of the symbols has a meaning to the tribe that makes it.
How to Care for MudCloth
Mudcloth is cotton so it can be washed but in cold water on a gentle cycle. It should not be put in the dryer, it should be dried flat or hung to dry. Depending on the cloth, it can fade when you wash it so it’s best to wash it alone.
Sounds high maintenance right? The good news is that there are many mudcloth knock-offs that have a very similar look but don’t require special care or come at such a high price. If you can afford the real thing, it has a very rich look but if you can’t, knock-offs can give the same global look to a room. Being a bargain shopper, I opted for a mod-cloth look and not the real thing.
Most mudcloth has a slightly uneven geometric pattern. You can find it in a lot of home décor items like pillows, throws, curtains, and anything that is upholstered.
Mudcloth Pillow on Etsy from StitchedbyGraceNY
Mudcloth Pillow on Etsy from Tizepol
Look-alike mudcloth fabric that is screen printed from Fabricsupplyco (this is the fabric I chose for my office)
Mudcloth planter by Blackstrapclothandco
Mudcloth pouf by MackenzieBryantCo
How to Use Bold Fabrics
When you use a fabric that has a very bold pattern it can be hard to know how to use it, how much, and where. To create continuity and make a fabric look intentional you should use each fabric in a room in at least two to three places. This could be two mud cloth throw pillows, or curtains and a small pillow. You get the idea.
It also adds depth to a room if you add complementary pieces of fabric, meaning fabrics that have a different size pattern and the same color tone. Using the mudcloth as an example, you may want to mix other fabrics that are in the same tone like these pillows:
- Woven square pillow from Target – This pillow works because the black and cream colors mirror the colors in mudcloth and the pattern is smaller than our mudcloth.
- Cream bolster pillow from Target – This pillow is a different shape, which is nice for variety, and it has a cream on cream pattern which goes nicely with the black and cream.]
- Nadia dot embroidered pillow from Target – This pillow has a gold color that complements the black and cream and a pattern size that is different.
You can also use fabrics that have complementary colors instead of the same color family, like gold or red. Whatever you decide to do with additional fabrics, choose a pattern that has a different scale than the African mud cloth, either smaller or larger but not the same. In the example above, the black pillow has a much smaller pattern repeat than our mudcloth.
When you use bold fabrics, like mudcloth, tribal prints or any other bold pattern, It’s better to use these fabrics in ways that are easy to change out in case you decide in a year you are sick of the pattern or you’ve found something else you are in love with. For example, don’t upholster a large piece with a very bold pattern because these are expensive to change. Stick to things like pillows, curtains, throws, cushion covers, or a pillow cover or pouf which are less expensive to change. You could also use this traditional African fabric to make wall hangings or a table runner or table cloth.
Mudcloth Home Decor Fabric
Have you been drawn to a fabric you see on Pinterest over and over? If so, I hope this helps you see how you can incorporate a bold fabric into a room in your home.