Our 100% Cotton Cushions (aka the ex-farmer shirt)

choosan shirt

 

This is my mother’s driver Yerro, modeling a shirt I saw worn by many men during my childhood in the Gambia.

The shirt is made up of four-inch-wide strips of cotton sewn together to make a much wider piece. The sides are then attached with a separate shorter piece, often forming a pocket for the random things that need to be at hand. Plus an opening for the head cut and hemmed. That’s it! Though, as in Yerro’s shirt, you can add fringes at the bottom.

These shirts may be simple, but they are extremely practical. They have now inspired the latest Toghal products: 100% Cotton Cushions and 100% Cotton Throws.

ThrowandCushion

You might be able to see that, just like Yerro’s shirt, the cushions and throws are made of strips of cotton. Known as strip cloth, farmers’ cloth, country cloth or ‘chossan’ cloth (which means ‘roots’ in Wolof), it’s probably the simplest woven textile to come from West Africa, where it can be found across the Gambia, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Mali.

Rain-fed and hand-grown by small-scale farmers, the cotton used for our cushions and throws is collected, spun and woven in the Sahel region. Here’s a photo of some narrow loom weavers:

 

hausaweavers

 

The cotton strips might be narrow, by they’re very long — over 12 meters! — and so loosely woven that they’re translucent. Each piece is, of course, unique; you can see beautiful bolls of cotton pod spun into the yarn.

Throw closeup3

 

When we get the strips delivered in the UK, we pre-wash and pre-shrink them, creating an incredibly sturdy but breathable cotton that’s warm — and that will only get cosier with further washes.

We double stitch the edges for extra strength. A neighbour in our Sussex village who works in dressmaking — she’s a former pattern cutter for Vivienne Westwood, in fact — sources the eco-linen we use for the piping on our pillows. You can choose from 18 different colours when you order:

biolinen colours

 

Our new pillows and throws celebrate design with a story. They really embody the philosophy behind Toghal: extending traditional fabrics, with all of their meaning and cultural significance, to our contemporary context — now customisable for your own home.

Throw closeup2

 

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One Response to “Our 100% Cotton Cushions (aka the ex-farmer shirt)”

  1. Joke Bakare December 21, 2015 at 11:18 pm #

    This style is worn by the Fula people in Nigeria, they are nomads so the tribes are found all over west Africa and as far as Sudan.
    The women have such colourful embroidery on them.

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