Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Africa project: A Swahili quilt

The letters appliqu├ęd on this little quilt read thamani mtoto, a Swahili phrase that means “precious baby.” 

Step-by-step instructions : 
You will need two pieces 48” square (1.25 M) of lightweight cotton, and scraps at least 4” x 4” (10 cm), or 1/3-½ yards (30-40 cm) of contrasting fabric to make the letters.
The quilt shown here is made of African themed fabric.  You can use any brightly-colored scraps of your own.
1. After you choose your Swahili words, print out the letter templates you need. Cut around them and lay them out to estimate how much they need to grow or shrink to fit on the large square area. Leave a margin of at least 3” (7.5 cm) around the edges.
2. Enlarge or shrink the letter templates (adjust the seam allowances if necessary) and pin them to the contrasting fabric scraps. Cut them out. Iron the seam allowances under and trim any excess. While you’re at it, iron the wrinkles out of the large background pieces.
3. Pin the letters into position on the background. Attach them with zig-zag machine stitching or hand sew them firmly to the background.
4. Sew the back and front of the quilt together inside out. Iron the seam on the right side. Stuff with batting.
5. Anchor the batting with at least nine single stitches.
6. Quilt the front to the back if desired. In this blanket, I left room to personalize the quilt with the baby’s name.

Templates for the alphabet itself are at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/64189517/Virtual-Swahili-Alphabet-Template-From-Margaret-Shepherd-author-of-Learn-World-Calligraphy  

If you do make a quilt with African-themed letters, send me a photograph.  I'll post it here, and I'll send you a copy of my book with a practice pen. 

Check out African motifs in Learn World Calligraphy.


  1. I like your Site. Will you Please Link Exchange with my Website? My site: http://wiccanpope.com My Banner: http://wiccanpope.com/wiccan00.gif

  2. Good afternoon, Ms. Shepherd! I wrote you in May 2016 requesting calligraphy ideas for my mother. She was very pleased with the pen and copy of your book. I also spoke of our up coming trip to Africa. We are home and I made an African quilt for our God baby that was born while we were gone!
    I will figure out how to send you a picture of it! Ethiopia had beautiful old manuscripts in Amharic. You would love them! Thank you for being my inspiration for the gift of the quilt!

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