How to Make Mud Cloth Pillows

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Mud cloth pillows are pillows made from a traditional African cloth technique which includes a cotton fabric dyed with special fermented mud.

Mud cloths are handmade Malian cotton fabric that was made way back in the 12th century and, more recently, has become an identity symbol of the Malian culture.

These pillows are characterised by geometric symbols, making them distinct patterns that go well with almost every interior plan.

It has a thick nub-like texture and tends to be stiff, where when it wears out; it becomes softer and more comfortable to use.

Mud clothes or pillows are cleaned by submerging them slowly in cold water containing a chemical-free soap and gently stirring, then let them sit in that water for about five minutes.

After that, you should remove the mud clothes or pillows, shake to remove excess water then hang to dry.

Since they have gained popularity in most parts of the world, they have become expensive to purchase or make.

Because they are costly to purchase, you should try a DIY mud cloth pillow which will be cheaper than buying one.

They come in various colour shades, including brown, tan, cream and, the most popular being, black and white.

The beautiful thing about the patterns on the mud cloths is that it is easy to make different shapes.

To make DIY mud cloth pillows, you should have a cushion cover, a cardboard, fabric marker, a ruler or a guideline and an iron box or clothes dryer.

A Cushion Cover

A cushion cover allows the mud cloth pillow to stay in shape even after the pillow shrinks. An ironed cushion cover is suitable to make the pillow look nice and attractive.

A Cardboard

It is placed inside the cushion cover and used to prevent the marker from passing ink to the other side of the cushion cover and also helps to keep the fabric smooth.

Fabric Marker

A marker is used to draw your intended design on the cushion cover. It is easy to come up with a pattern that you will use in every pillow you will make.

A Ruler or a Guide Line

You should also have a ruler to help you draw straight lines of the patterns you are making. A guideline can be any straight item that will guide you in drawing straight lines.

The patterns are made on the cushion cover that will cover the whole pillow when every step of making the pillow is done.

An iron Box

It is used to heat the pillow to set the ink. You should press your cushion cover with the iron box for about three minutes to set the marker’s ink and make it permanent.

Steps to Follow to Make a Mud Cloth Pillow

The first step is to make fabric mud cloths. Take an already woven cotton cloth with narrow strips, which is mended together to make a larger piece of cloth.

The cloth is then dyed with tannic tea made from the leaves of a local tree then dried. It is then painted with gathered fermented mud that has been fermented for several months.

The mud is then left to dry and cure, then get rinsed. The process of painting this fabric with mud is repeated several times to make the colour darker.

After it has thoroughly dried, the fabric is now ready for use. Some people use the technique of using fresh soy milk, which acts as sizing for the fabric. It also acts as a medium of powdered colour to create the paint.

The next step is to take a cushion cover and put cardboard to prevent the ink from leaking into the other side of the cushion cover.

Take the ruler to guide you on drawing straight lines while making your patterns. Make the patterns that you are interested in on the cushion cover.

Once you finish drawing the patterns, allow the ink to dry by using an iron box or wait for it to dry naturally for about an hour.

When your cushion cover is fully dry, take the mud fabric and measure the size that can fit into your cushion cover to make a mud cloth pillow.

Carefully stuff mud fabric into your cushion cover up to your desired level of firmness and ensure that it has a zip on the upper side so that after stuffing the mud fabric, you zip up the cushion cover.

The result is a mud fabric covered by a neat cushion cover or pillowcase. You can repeat the same process to make several pillows you will use in your house for different purposes like sleeping on or making them sofa pillows.


In summary, mud cloth pillows are made by first preparing the mud cloth fabric. Then take the cushion cover and make different patterns according to how you want them.

Wait for them to dry up, then take your already prepared mud cloth fabric and carefully put it in the cushion cover and your mud cloth pillow is ready.