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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

£3,335 raised for Musa's clinic

3 Jan 2019: Our annual Christmas online quilt sale to raise money for the Sukuta Health Centre in The Gambia was - thanks to you! - another great success.

Our informal appeal to friends and customers for quilts and other textile creations for the sale brought in an astounding 39 pieces.

As soon as the sale went live at midnight on 1 December, the online orders started pouring in. Then at 10 a.m. when we opened the doors for our shop Open Day, customers thronged into the shop to buy pieces right off the walls.

In the end, only a couple of pieces remained unsold and when we totted up the takings at the close on 30 December, we had a wopping £3,335 in the pot. Every penny will go to the Sukuta Health Centre.

We visited the clinic in December and inspected all of the work done with last year's money. Through 2018 Rose and her team invested the £2,670 that you raised on significant building, plumbing, sanitation and electrical improvements - including new sealable sliding windows in the maternity ward and pharmacy, plus fans and air conditioning repairs. They even bought solar rechargable light bulbs!

What  lies ahead in 2019? Head nurse Rose Mendy and the village elders will meet soon to discuss  the options. One thing that is definitely in the pipeline is refurbishing beds and mattresses.

Thank you again for helping Musa's clinic.

Thanks for your generous support:
Magie and Musa with ward nurse Christine at Sukuta Health Centre in The Gambia


New sealable windows keep dust and prying eyes out of the pharmacy

SPECIAL GUEST ARTISTS announced for World Textile Days 2019

19 Sep 2018: Our season of eight - yes 8! - World Textile Days next year will be truly INSPIRING.

With our new theme - Inspired to Create - every World Textile Day will feature exhibtions and presentations by our inspiring Guest Artists, as well as our world textiles experts.

What makes our guest artists special?

That's easy. They've all been inspired to create by world travel and textiles.

Here the schedule: mark your calendar now!

  • 23 Mar 2019. Wales - Llanidloes. With Jacquie Carey: Japanese kumihimo and medieval braiding expert and author.
  • 13 April 2019. South East - Surrey. With Jennifer Hughes: Asian textiles expert and collector, teacher, embroiderer, weaver and dyer.
  • 11 May 2019. South - Hampshire. With Janice Gunner: award winning textile artist, quilter, teacher and author.
  • 1 Jun 2019.  Central - Oxfordshire. With Heather Koumi: award winning batik artist and teacher.
  • 15 Jun 2019. Scotland - Bridge of Allan. With Pat Archibald: award winning textile artist, quilter and teacher.
  • 7 Sep 2019. East - Norfolk. With Magie Relph: textile artist, quilter, collector, author and African textiles expert.
  • 28 Sep 2019. North - Cheshire. With Janice Gunner: award winning textile artist, quilter, teacher and author.
  • 5 Oct 2019. West - Bristol. With Isabella Whitworth: natural dyeing artist, historical dyes expert, teacher and lecturer.

Check out all the details on our new, improved website:


'Asante - thank you,' from Kenedy Owiti in Nairobi

16 Jul 2018: In the aftermath of Kenedy's devestating fire, we're very grateful to you - our customers - for buying plenty of Kenedy's bone beads. Many of you also sent generous cash donations.

Added to our own contribution, all that money helped Kenedy buy new machines to get his workshop up and running again. For Kenedy and his staff, time was critical: in Africa, no production means no food.

Here are a few lines of thanks from Kenedy. Please read them. They say a lot about life in Africa.

'I would like to say thank you for your support of buying me the machines. It was really kind and helpful. I also thank Gretchen for letting you know what happened in Kibera. I received the money you sent through Gretchen and I bought 3 machines with the money you sent. Thank you very much. May God bless you.'

Kenedy went on to explain what is happening in Kibera. The government is demolishing slum areas to build rental housing. It sounds a good thing, until you realise that most people won't be able to afford the rent and that there is no provision for workshops like Kenedy's.

Where will he set up his machines in the long term? Nobody can tell him. Many others are in the same boat. Land - if it can be found - is expensive. For now, local artisans like Kenedy are using tents, but they do not know what the future holds.

Kenedy sums it up like this. 'The situation is stressful, but otherwise we are okay and doing fine. God has kept us alive.'

View and buy: Kenedy Owiti's Bone Beads

Ready to roll: Kenedy Owiti's new machines for cutting, shaping and polishing his bone beads


Kenedy Owiti looking for a new workshop site in Kibera, Nairobi

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

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