Stitched Resist Techniques from Mali with Aboubakar Fofana


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Stitched Resist Techniques from Mali with Aboubakar Fofana

August 1-4, 2022.  Seattle, Washington


Aboubakar Fofana spent years practicing resist stitch techniques that are the hallmark of the West African textile tradition. Drawing from traditional stitches of the Dogon, nature and cultural inspiration, Aboubakar created his own pattern language using indigenous cotton stripcloth and ingenious stitching to create intricately patterned constructions: shawls, bed covers, cushions and wearables. In Stitched Resist Techniques from Mali with Aboubakar Fofana, he’ll share them with us.

We are offering a special opportunity to learn these stitch techniques from Aboubakar this summer in Seattle. Working with traditional Malian stripcloth (finimugu), Aboubakar will guide you through stripcloth construction and stitched resist techniques to create a panel suitable for a wall hanging or large table mat. These stitches are specific to finimugu fabric and produce intricate, beautiful effects.  Each pattern is named after objects that are significant in Malian culture.  Once the cloth is stitched and bound, we will dye the pieces in an organic indigo vat and then open the pieces to reveal the patterns.

Each participant will receive enough stripcloth yardage to create a 4-5 panel textile.  Specialty needles and thread are included. Aboubakar will guide you in an in-depth exploration using traditional finimugu (Malian cotton strip cloth) and indigo for individual creative expression.  All the materials are plant or earth-based and organically sourced.

The bulk of the workshop will be learning and practicing the stitches and then dipping them in indigo to see the results.  Our indigo vat will already be set and it will be helpful to have some familiarity with indigo dipping.

The workshop is for 4 days and runs from 10-4 each day.  The workshop will be held in Seattle, Washington in the Fremont neighborhood.  We will send you travel information once you make your reservation.

Workshop includes

  • Four days intensive study with Aboubakar in a small class setting
  • 5 meters handspun and handwoven organic cotton finimugu stripcloth fabric (approximate length)
  • Storytelling about the life in rural Mali
  • Specialty needles, and thread.
  • Light refreshments

About Aboubakar

Born in Mali and raised in France, Aboubakar Fofana is a multidisciplinary artist and designer whose working mediums include calligraphy, textiles and natural dyes. He is known for his work in reinvigorating and redefining West African indigo dyeing techniques, and much of his focus is devoted to the preservation and reinterpretation of traditional West African textile and natural dyeing techniques and materials.

Fofana’s work stems from a profound spiritual belief that nature is divine and that through respecting this divinity we can understand the immense and sacred universe. His raw materials come from the natural world, and his working practice revolves around the cycles of nature, the themes of birth, decay and change, and the impermanence of these materials. He sees the conception and realisation of this work as a form of spiritual practice which is shared with his audience.

Fofana is currently deeply involved in creating a farm in conjunction with the local community in the district of Siby, Mali, in which the two types of indigenous West African indigo will be the centrepiece for a permaculture model based around local food, medicine and dye plants. This project hopes to contribute to the rebirth of fermented indigo dyeing in Mali and beyond, and represents his life’s greatest project to date.

Aboubakar says:

I wanted to share a little bit more about Malian textiles. Today I wanted to talk about the cotton. Malian cotton is indigenous to this area of West Africa. It is very soft and grows with minimal water. Additionally, it was once available in several colours, but these are almost impossible to find now. It is spun by hand and then woven on a narrow-strip vertical loom. Before the introduction of imported textiles, all clothing was made from these strips, sewn together to make the required width.

Clothing in West Africa was always considered to be more than just covering, it held power, protection and conveyed information about the wearer. The cotton I use is spun for me on commission. It is then woven using only handspun Malian cotton for both warp and weft.

Materials list

Please bring any tool that you normally use for handstitching, including a thimble. We will be supplying mattress needles but if you have a large needle that you prefer (such as a dollmaker’s needle) you may bring that.

  • Scissors, pincushion, thimble if you use one.
  • Measuring tape
  • Notebook and pen
  • Straight edge, ruler or quilter’s ruler
  • Fabric marking pen that washes out with water (available from your local sewing store or online).
  • Third hand, sewing bird or kakehari.  This is a clamp tool that allows you hold the heavy finimugu fabric taut for even stitching.

What Aboubakar’s students say about his prior stitching workshop:

-I really enjoyed and learned a lot, there is always a rhythm to his teachings. I felt closer to myself and although we were on different levels there was room for all us.

-Aboubakar is very generous with his knowledge and answered every question.

-I feel incredibly lucky to be able to absorb Aboubakar’s expertise and experience. A truly rare opportunity.



We offer a limited number of partial scholarships for this workshop, funded by our generous donors. Contact [email protected] for more information or fill out the scholarship application here.



All sales are final. This workshop is non-cancellable and non-refundable. However, if Botanical Colors must cancel this workshop we will refund tuition paid.

Botanical Colors reserves the right to cancel classes in the unlikely event of circumstances beyond our control. If a class is cancelled, Botanical Colors’ responsibility and liability are limited to a refund of paid class fees.

All Washington State, King County and CDC Covid-19 guidelines will be followed.   Our workshop will be held outdoors under covered tents.  We strongly recommend that all attendees be fully vaccinated.  Depending on the status of the pandemic we may ask for proof of vaccination and results of a rapid antigen test.

Installment payments 

We accept installation payments for this workshop.  All tuition must be fully paid within 30 days of the start of the workshop. Please contact [email protected] for more information.



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