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Adire Cloth

Adire Cloth

Total Time Needed: Weekend Project

In Africa, cloth is used for both decoration and communication. Celebrate African-American heritage with your own colorful scarf or tablecloth that conveys a message.


  • Fabric
  • Pencil
  • Tape
  • Stencils (optional)
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Acrylic paint
  • Newspaper
  • Scissors
  • Fabric tape or glue


  1. Cut the fabric to shape and tape it to several sheets of newspaper (to reduce the mess), then tape the project to a table or board (to keep the cloth taut).
  2. Lightly trace the stencils on the cloth with a pencil, or draw shapes freehand.
  3. Using a paintbrush, apply a thick layer of the vegetable shortening on each design. (Note: The designs will be white on the finished cloth.)
  4. Thin the acrylic paint with a little water so that it is the consistency of yogurt. Paint the entire piece of fabric, even over the designs. (They will wash out later.)
  5. Let the fabric dry a couple of hours or overnight. When it is completely dry, peel it off the newspaper.
  6. Rinse the fabric in water with a little soap and hang your fabric up to dry.


If you want a more finished edge, fold over a hem and secure it with fabric tape or glue, or make a hem on a sewing machine.