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News & Updates

The latest News & Updates from The African Fabric Shop

Come back often to find out what we've been up to.

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Catch up:  Read our most recent e-Newsletter

Fire devestates bone bead workshop

30 May 2018: Our friend Kenedy Owiti and his team of batik bone bead makers lost their thriving workshop to a devestating fire recently in Nairobi.

We responded by sending money for new tools so they could get up and running and that was matched by our friend Gretchen in Nairobi.

Now we want to sell as many of Kenedy's beads as we can, as fast as we can, so that we can get the workshop producing at capacity again.

To help that happen, we are discounting all of Kenedy's batik bone beads by 10% on the website. We are hoping that you'll respond by buying heaps of beads at a great price. That way we can send Kenedy a wopping big order - just what he needs to get back on his feet again.

Please buy Kenedy's bone beads NOW!

View and buy: Bone Beads

Kenedy Owiti inspects the damage after the fire that destoyed his workshop.

Back from Moçambique and South Africa

13 Feb 2018: We're just back from a busy five weeks in southern Africa. We kicked off with an amazing six days in Kruger National Park with Alison and Graham and our champion organisers Helen and Nathan. In Johannesburg, Magie had a chance to catch up with quilting pals and do some shopping, while Bob stayed properly focused on food - especially the famous 'Russian sausage sandwich' at Nathan's favourite junk food haven, Akhalwayas.

Then we headed for new territory - Moçambique - which from a textile point of view is known mainly for its women's wrapper called capulano. Through a local eco-tourism organisation on Ilha de Moçambique ( we found an old lady who taught us all about this traditional cloth via an interpreter. Textiles aside, Ilha de Moçambique - a UNESCO world heritage site - is fascinating, welcoming, laid-back and steeped in history. Then in Maputo we found a wonderful capulano emporium called Casa Elefante. Of course, Magie bought several pieces for her collection!

Back in South Africa, we popped in on our great pal Pam Stallebrass near Cape Town and did some interesting and exhausting touring in the Karoo. All in all, a great trip.

Casa Elefante, Maputo:
Magie with Meera Radia

£2,670 raised for Musa's clinic

31 Dec 2017: This is truly astounding, folks. When we launched it on 2 December, we thought our modest little quilt sale to raise money for the Sukuta Health Centre in The Gambia might bring in a couple of hundred quid for us to take with us on our buying trip to see Musa, Neneh and our friends at the clinic.

Thanks to your generosity - buying quilts like crazy, that is - we now have £2,670 to put towards more improvements at the clinic. These will benefit patients, staff, volunteers (like Musa) and visitors.

So, where will the money go? That decision - as always - was left to the clinic staff and the community.

While we were in The Gambia in December they got a quotation for additional improvement work to the septic and drainage system, as well as a quotation for new sealable sliding windows. These will improve privacy, cut down the dust and improve air conditioning efficiency in the maternity ward and pharmacy.

With the funding now in hand - work has already begun!

Thank you again for helping Musa's clinic.

Our December visit to Sukuta Health Centre in The Gambia:
Magie and Isobel with Head Nurse Rose Mendy, Musa and the vitally important plumbing and sanitation team!

£2,100 raised for Musa's clinic

3 Dec 2017: A great big THANK YOU to the worldwide fans of The African Fabric Shop!

At midnight on Saturday 2 December we sent you all an email to kick off our online sale of quilts to raise money for the Sukuta Health Centre in The Gambia.

Only 18 minutes later the first quilt was gobbled up - thanks, Vicky!

That started a quilt feeding frenzy that lasted the rest of the day both online and in the shop. By close of play Musa's clinic was better off to the tune of £2,154, including several generous cash donations.

We're off to The Gambia tomorrow with the good news - and the money, of course!

Previously, your generous support for the Buy a Plank quilt project raised £4,000.

'How did we spend all that money,' you might ask.

The answer is: we didn't spend it. That was the respsonsibility of Head Nurse Rose Mendy, advised by her team and the village elders.

That money paid for major building and sanitation work, as well as clinical and cleaning equipment.

For news of the next phase of spending at Sukuta Health Centre, watch this space.

And if you haven't alreadyl, sign up for our monthly e-Newsletter.

Thank you from Rose, Musa and the Team at Sukuta Health Centre.

Thanks for your generous support:
New lighting and fans recently  installed at the Sukuta Health Centre in The Gambia

John Gillow bestows honour upon Magie Relph

John Gillow - renowned author, inveterate traveller and world textiles expert - recently pinned Magie with his esteemed blessing and honour: the Guinea Star (with bar) medal, awarded for three months of hard travel by bus, minibus, clapped out Peugot and donkey cart across West Africa.

Did you know that we stock John's book African Textiles: Colour and Creativity Across a Contintent?

Magie Relph and John Gillow
Magie Relph and John Gillow at Antique Textile Fair, Manchester

Another great World Textile Day in Wales

Our recent 25 March World Textile Day at Llanidloes was brilliant. One visitor remarked - not for the first time - 'World Textile Day is my favourite day of the year!' Speaking to our theme Colour, our main presentation was by Liz Beasely of Ananuca Chilean Textiles. She took us on a journey to the Andes to discover the natural dyes used by the weavers where she sources her rugs, shawls and yarns. Jim Gaffney of Textile Traders did a short talk about the resurgence of natural dyes and we continued our new idea of Show & Tell where visitors can discuss pieces from their own collections - very popular. The cakes by the Quilt Association of Wales were wonderful as well!

Our next World Textile Day is 6 May at Wickham in Hampshire.

More info about all seven of our World Textile Days:

Magie Relph introduces Liz Beasely of Ananuca Chilean Textiles at World Textile Day Wales in Llanidloes

Magie and Bob are back from their three month shopping spree across West Africa

It's nice to be home, of course. But we're missing the road a bit already - especially exploring the villages and markets of West Africa looking for textile treasures to tempt you!

Our latest adventure took us all the way from Morocco to Ghana with a whole lot of Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal, The Gamiba, Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire in between.

We're busy updating the website as fast as we can with great new fabrics from our travels. 

Latest updates: African wax prints | Da Viva and Woodin prints | Guinea indigo cloth

Magie Relph and Bob Irwin in Mauritania
Magie and Bob on the road to Nouakchott, Mauritania
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