Using Mudcloth (or ANY Bold Print) Fabric in Home Decor

What is mudcloth? 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 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. Mudcloth patterns have a very global, bohemian look. It can also fit wll with mid-century style.

Where to Buy Mudcloth

You can buy fabric that has the look of mudcloth that is not dyed using mud. If you want the 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 mudcloth fabric from Africa.

The neat thing about a real piece of mudcloth is that it’s unique, and has it’s 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 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 the price tag. 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.

Mudcloth Inspiration

Most mudcloth has a slightly uneven geometric pattern. You can find it in a lot of pillows, throws, curtains and anything that is upholstered.

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 pillows, or curtains and a small pillow. You get the idea.

It’s also adds depth to a room if you add complementary fabrics, 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:

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 mudcloth, either smaller or larger but not the same. In the example above, the black pillow has a much smaller patter repeat than our mudcloth.

When you use bold fabrics, like mudcloth or any other more bold pattern, It’s better to use these fabrics in ways that are easy to change out in case you decide in a year 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 or poufs which are less expensive to change.

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.

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