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Printing the Kalimah: Textile Project

Monday, 1 September 2008

In the name of God, Compassionate, Merciful بسم الله الرحمن الرحيمِ | Peace be with you السلام عليكم

islamic art quran canvas
  • Above is the initial digital layout for a textile product based on the Arabic inscription 'Kalimah', the Muslim testimony of faith. I designed this for a client whose specification included teal and brown as the colour preferences and the desire for Arabic should be visible on each panel of the final design.
  • The Kalimah is therefore split into three and a dominant floral shape is placed in the corners. The final design is accepted by the client.
  • To produce the textile hanging the background fabric is printed with a stencil and bronze fabric paint. Stencils can be made from good old glossy card and a craft knife but I always use plastic sheeting because it's longer lasting and I can see where I'm stencilling.
islamic art hadith canvas

  • The stencil is repeated in alternating rows. Later on during production sequins will be sewn on each print.

  • Next is the sewing phase. Machine embroidery is layered from right to left using metallic threads in gold and silver. A teal coloured satin stitch (zig-zag) is sewn for for 'leaf stems'.

  • Below is the result after embroidery. The entire fabric is measured and cut into three equal sections to make it easier for the next step. 
  • It's a struggle to sew tightly stitched corner spirals at high speed without the fabric puckering up. After checking the sewing machine settings though and slowing down I'm able to unpick and restitch this spiral with fewer gathers.

  • Applique work is required on corner designs. A template is used to cut out two separate flower patterns and petals. To attach them I sew around the edges of these gorgeous teal flowers. 
  • Simple beadwork in blue and silver glass strand beads completes this section.

  • Going back to the 'leafy stems' I take layers of sheer material to make the leaves. Organza and silver sheer is fused together with angelina fibres in a large sheet of fabric. Using a sewing machine with silver thread and on the free-machine setting, I randomly sew many circles all over this fabric. Individual leaves or petals are then cut out which will be appliqued along the stem.

  • Below is the simplified Kalimah printed in metallic blue oil pastel using CAD/CAM. 
  • The diacritic marks (vowels) are taken out.
islamic art arabic print
  • This Arabic phrase reads 'There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah'. For reasons of respect and dignity, such phrases are not used for objects for or near the ground, near unclean areas but rather as a reminder in high, visible areas.
islamic art arabic canvas
Rasool'Allah, meaning the Messenger of God.
  • Below: all three individual sections completed as a whole design and with the completed inscription. Laid flat, the fabric is supported with vilene now needs wooden backing.
  • A close-up of the design shows the finishing beadwork.

  • Wrapped onto wooden slabs with a cord hanging the panels can be hung anywhere clean and flat. The finished product has three (60x40cm) panels.


This was made for a good friend. Glad to have been of some service. I'll send you the bill. ★
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