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Tentmakers of Cairo


Reading through the Empty Spools Seminars Catalogue for 2019 Quilt-Making Workshops, I spotted the most colorful quilt. The appliqué was intricate and the design was beautifully appealing.

From the catalogue . . .

Tentmakers of Cairo

Stitch Like An Egyptian

Known around the world as masters of intricate appliqué, this class will be taught by two men – one is amoung the best stitchers in The Street of the Tentmakers, the other is an experienced teacher who speaks excellent English. You will learn some of the traditional design systems and several different styles of work. You will learn their marvellously simple appliqué techniques. Best of all, you will enjoy a cultural experience which has been described by students in other countries as “illuminating.”


Photo Source: Empty Spools

A quick, online search and I was able to discover much more about the amazing tentmakers and the 2016 feature-length documentary.

THE TENTMAKERS OF CAIRO - The Film

Director's Statement (by Kim Beamish, award winning Australian filmmaker)

“The Tentmakers are as unique, because of their ancient pharaonic art form, as they are ordinary within Egyptian society.

Through ‘The Tentmakers of Cairo’ I wanted to make a film that could bring across the realities of Egypt’s revolution for the ordinary citizens of Egypt; the fact that so much was taking place in the name of the Egyptian people and yet the majority had no say in what was happening.

"Our heroes, five men, all talented craftsmen who practice the detailed art form of tentmaking. This is a uniquely Egyptian craft dating back to the Pharaohs which involves the hand-stitching of the interiors of tents, or in its more modern – and tourist-friendly – incarnation, wall-hangings and cushion covers."

From the beginning I did not want to hold interviews or have a narration telling the story behind the story. I wanted the men to as much as possible tell their own story and in so doing immerse the audience in their lives. The fact that there is no music throughout the film, and the soundtrack is solely made of the sounds of the street, brings the audience even further into their world, embedding us ever so briefly in their lives, in their reality.

I always wanted to make a purely observational film and knew that I would just have to wait for the opportunity to do so and this was it. I think it is a very honest film which intertwines the larger story of Egypt with the smaller stories of the men and their work and the affect the ongoing turmoil is having on them."

View the original Trailer at the Tentmakers of Cairo website.

Additional information is available on the video below, from The Quilt Show: Tentmakers of Cairo:


Have you been fortunate to view these exquisite handmade panels in person, or have you signed up for the workshop?

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