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updated: 2/23/2018 6:27 AM

Always feel at home with a fabric you love

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  • Modern textiles easily travel with you and can make any place you stay more homey.

    Modern textiles easily travel with you and can make any place you stay more homey.
    Courtesy of DaWanda


Some people are rolling stones. I ran into a friend at a dance performance who had recently returned from living in Bali for a few years. She bought a home and thought her roots were finally established.

As she filled me in on what was happening next in her life, it became clear that putting down roots there, or anywhere, is not next on her dance card. She is a self-proclaimed unsettled person.

Soon our discussion turned to how she might make wherever she is feel more like home, more cozy and more hers. "That's something a lot of people would appreciate knowing," she quietly said. "I'd sure read about it!"

As I drove home, I thought about the very real challenge of being a world traveler with no permanent home base. I remembered people who have crossed my path who work abroad and come home irregularly to visit family.

The first thing that came to mind was textile art. It is easy to fold up a piece of fabric and squish it into a backpack or luggage. Every country has some form of collectible textile work. From Bengal you can find "kantha," decorative stitched quilts made from recycled saris. In Japan you can buy an "obi," the belt worn with a traditional kimono. Some are elaborate, and others called "sakiori obis" are made from scraps of silk.

According to the Sri textile showroom website: "Sakiori clothing was first woven by Japanese peasants around 1750 for its warmth and durability as newly minted cotton cloth at that time was too rare and expensive for a farmer or fisherman. The home manufacture and use of sakiori clothing and hearth covers in rural areas of Japan disappeared anywhere from 50 to 100 years ago, although a few individuals and some historical preservation societies still weave this cloth today."

Guatemala and Panama offer a form of design called "mola." Molas are handmade panels of material that go into pieces of clothing like a blouse, skirt or headscarf. The quality of a mola is determined by factors like the number of layers of cotton used as a design is cut and stitched into the cloth. These are colorful and highly stylized with images of birds and animals, floral motifs and geometric designs.

Indonesia is known for batiks. "Batik" is a technique of wax-resist dyeing applied to cotton or silk cloth. It is made either by drawing dots and lines of the resist with a spouted tool called a "canting," or by using a copper metal block. The imagery can be animals, flowers or other nature subject matter. Traditional batiks are done with indigo or brown dyes, but there are multicolored examples, too, that are considered more fine due to the increased labor involved.

This is a modern example of design and stitchery that is at once soft and colorful. Tuck something like this into your suitcase. You might then tack it up over a window or lay it over the back of a sofa. It would be easy to pick up a couple of inexpensive accent pillows and create your own style in a studio apartment or a hotel room.

Scarves can be used in the same manner as tablecloths or pinned on a wall for a more personal piece of art. One of my clients dashed through a local market on her way to the airport in India and grabbed a couple of saris. We used them as custom pillow shams.

Once you are looking and aware, you will find examples of lovely textile art in every corner of the world. Look to a bold handcrafted piece of cloth as a way to bring coziness with you.

• Christine Brun is a San Diego-based interior designer and the author of "Small Space Living." Send questions and comments to her by email at

2018, Creators Syndicate

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