African Kuba Cloth Embroidery and Patchwork

Ever since the Industrial Revolution, almost everything became mechanized, and it was the textile industry, which took the harshest hit. Though the production process became more fluid, quick and efficient, the textiles lost their unique handmade touch, and the history behind those who are engaged in the cultivation process is somehow snatched away. If you are some of those people who always buy a piece of fabric not only for its inherent beauty but also the story underneath, the Kuba Cloth is just the one for you!

The authentic Kuba Cloth fabric is not only amongst one of the most dramatic textile choices out there but also boasts of impressive embroidery and patchwork by the natives. They labor for days to tend till they are delighted with the finished product which would then steal the hearts of all those who happen to chance upon it. Are you interested to know how the embroidery and patchwork process is done? Read on!

Though the natives of Kuba are considered to be somewhat backward, surprisingly, they have a lot of skills when it comes to embroidery as they regard embroidering a way to convey stories from one generation to the next. Hence, you might notice that the signs and the symbols on the fabric keep on differing based on the different tribes, which make them. No two embroidered clothes will ever be the same, and the natives create the designs at the spur of the moment while they are still stitching it. Till now, approximately around two hundred designs which have changed hands through generations have already been archived. In the rare cases when the embroiderer copies the pattern from a previously embroidered fabric, he or she diagrams it with the help of the utensils and then stitches it up using the stem stitch embroidery method.

The embroidered Kuba Cloth has been widely categorized into three groups: the open work embroideries, the uncut embroideries, and the cut pile embroideries. The latter ones are often popularly known as the “Kuba Velours” or the “Kuba Velvet” as they have the appearance of the velour or velvet fabrics respectively. The embroidery technique that is used to give the illusion of velvet is accomplished by integrating a cut loop on the fabric while it is still on the loom. Otherwise, the fabric is embroidered normally, and then the loose ends are trimmed close to the fabric material with the use of a small, sharp knife, with the fibers being kept in place with a cross stitch and this method is known as pile embroidering. If you manage to sneak in a look at the back, you will notice that the fibers are almost not visible and only the shadow of the dramatic design on the front remains. On the other hand, the uncut embroideries are rather flat in appearance having been done using the stem or blanket stitch. The openwork is the most interesting of all, the warp of the fabric is gradually removed and then it is embroidered to fill up the spaces, giving the Kuba Cloth an interesting pattern.

If you like lace, you might fall in love with the patchwork, which is practiced, on the Kuba Cloth. Some of the parts of the fabric are removed by cutting them out and a hole like pattern is created. These patches are then sewed into the main cloth using embroidery and interlocked hemstitching. Sometimes, small pieces of raffia cloth fibers are utilized to form a concrete whole through stitching. If the natives are in the mood for something elaborate, they embroider the patches, dye some and leave the others as they are and then stitch them up to form a complex pattern.

Now that you know all about how the African Kuba Cloth is made unique with the embroidery and patchwork, go get yourself one! You’ll never regret it!