HOUSTON QUILT SHOW COCOON with the Tentmakers of Cairo!
The Tentmakers of Cairo are coming to HOUSTON!
Due to the overwhelming success of our Cocoon with the Tentmakers of Cairo, Craftours presents a 6-day encore teaching performance in beautiful Houston, Texas! Here is your opportunity to meet these master craftsmen and learn first-hand how to "Quilt like an Egyptian!" Participants learn ten different quilting techniques that will enhance your applique skills beyond your wildest imagination. Space is limited and reservations are now open! This very special Cocoon experience is a perfect appetizer for those planning to attend Quilt Festival Houston. Read about our post-tour below.
  • First-class hotel accommodations for 5 nights near the convention center. (Suite upgrades available.)
  • A professional Craftours escort throughout your entire journey.
  • Delicious buffet breakfast served daily.
  • Participants will learn eye-opening quilting techniques taught by the master Tentmakers of Cairo.
  • Beautiful Egyptian cotton fabric to use for your projects.
  • A welcome dinner, introductions, and orientation meeting.
  • An optional Show & Tell luncheon presentation by the Tentmakers of Cairo.
  • A special showing of the Emmy nominated show "Destination Craft with Jim West."
  • Memorable “farewell dinner” and special departing gifts.
  • Craftours silent auction to benefit the Colors of Kids.
  • High quality threads provided by Sulky of America.
  • A Craftours lanyard, luggage identifier and commemorative gift.
  • All taxes are included in this package and insurance is highly recommended.
Supply list will be provided once the deposit is received.
Total cost of this 6-day Quilting Cocoon™ is only


Reserve your Space Now!
Call Toll-Free 877-887-1188


  • First-class hotel accommodations (near the convention center) for two nights. (Suite upgrades available.)
  • A delicious breakfast served daily.
  • Admission for two full days into Quilt Festival Houston.
Total cost of this 3-day Quilt Festival Houston Package is only
Any questions please e-mail: [email protected]

Space is available on a first-come/first-served basis. Prices are per person based on double occupancy. Travel insurance is highly recommended. Land only and single rates are available upon request. Please consult our Terms & Conditions as they apply once your first deposit is made. A 3% discount is offered if the expedition is paid in full by check within 7 business days of the invoice date.

“Stitch from the Heart”

Tentmakers of Cairo

The subject line is not from Middle America in a conversation about quilting. It is a translated quote from an elderly, non-English speaking Egyptian who was bemoaning the changes in his profession.

Since the first leather tent found in a 21st Dynasty tomb by archaeologists, “the walls covered with twisting flowers  and leaves, and the ceiling with stars,” Egyptians have been known for spectacular tents. While the outsides have been dull cotton canvas, the insides have been covered with applique. There are tents shown in the Rameses panel at Abu Simbel, and Paul in the Bible was a tentmaker.

As times have changes the tents have also changed. Linen replaced the original leather, and then cotton as it became common in Egypt. It is more common now to use vertical panels to signify a ceremony. Traditional panels are each five metres high, and three metres wide. One man makes one piece with fine and beautiful applique. Panels are used for all sorts of ceremonies – from weddings and henna parties, Ramadan eating areas, diplomatic functions, funerals, and street celebrations.  Surprisingly there is no difference in the patterns used from sad occasions like funerals to the joyful celebrations of weddings.

The men who hand stitch the work are called Khayamiya (Tentmakers of Cairo) – which is also the word for tents. The work has a lot in common with quilts. It is needle-turned applique, where the cotton canvas takes the place of batting and there is a background fabric tacked onto it, then sometimes several other background colours, and finally the wonderful patterns. Technically it is three or more layers joined together by stitch. A good stitcher catches the top of the cotton canvas but does not go all the way through it as the canvas is used in the way that a hand quilter uses an underneath thimble – to turn and deflect the stitch - so the stitches are almost invisible.

One of our master stitchers such as Ahmed Naguib learned to stitch from his father. He loves what he does. He says that stitching and watching colours twist and turn under your hands, using good stitches and fine work is a joy and a delight. He has watched with dismay as cheaper printed cloth has started to take over the markets, and is used to make the screens which used to be hand appliqued. It has meant that their market has changed. A craft that for centuries has been well supported has drifted into despair. People wanting screens for a wedding or funeral will hire or buy the printed ones, rather than spend a lot on handmade work. Young men who started in tentmaking have drifted away again as they cannot make enough money to feed their families. In searching for new markets the work has become smaller and more suited for homes and houses.

In an odd contradiction, the work has also become finer and more beautifully done. Previously a man was not paid until he handed over his five by three metre screen. It meant that they worked roughly and at speed as fine quality was not an issue – how it looked from a distance in a street was all that mattered. A big piece could take five to six months to stitch and in all that time there was no income for the family so speed was imperative.

Now that they are trying to sell to local residents and foreigners in the city beautiful work is important as people peer carefully at the stitching. They get little local support as Egyptians are not interested in the work. It is seen as rough, peasant work and not something for homes in cities. Its connections to funerals means that is also seen as bad luck and Egyptians do not want the work in their homes.

Tentmakers of Cairo shared in several overseas events such as;  Festival of Quilts at Birmingham, Museum Twentsewelle at Netherlands, Art in Action at oxford, The Cathedral of The Holy & Undivided Trinity of Norwich at UK, British Quilt and Stitch Village,Canberra Quilters in Australia, Phoenix, Grand Rapids, Lancaster, Des Moines, Chattanooga and Paducah in USA.

So we are introducing The Tentmakers of Cairo for all of YOU, and hope it gains your admire.

You could also visit our Facebook page; https://www.facebook.com/officialtentmakersofcairo?fref=ts

Or our own Etsy Store; https://www.etsy.com/market/tentmakers_of_cairo

If YOU have any enquiry or need any further information please feel free to contact us; [email protected]

The Tentmaker Class

The Tentmakers have been a part of Egyptian culture for thousands of years.

In the tomb of Ramses 2 there is a wall illustration of the Battle of Khadesh between Egyptian and Hittite armies. Who won is still argued – but there are clearly tents.

The original city in the location of Cairo was al Fustat. This means the tent or the encampment. The story is that a pigeon laid an egg on the corner of a tent where it was supported by the pole when Amr Ibn al Az was about to march on Alexandria in 646. He told people to leave it alone and took another tent to Alexandria. When he returned triumphant he decided that the egg was a lucky sign and suggested his soldiers move their camps closer- and a city was founded.

We have evidence of tents or applique work from Tutenkhamen’s tomb, from Mamluk Egypt where small scraps of banners with crests have survived over the years, and the appliqued and embroidered tent came into full glory in the Ottoman period.

In the late 1800s a need for tents with complex linings was waning and tentmakers had to find new ways to survive. They started to work on panels for homes – wall hangings that emulated beautiful inlaid stone work but were much cheaper. These often had text on them – a welcome, a blessing, or popular lines of elegant poetry.

With the First and Second World Wars soldiers streamed through Cairo. In the same period Tutankhamen’s tomb was discovered and interest in Egypt boomed. The tentmakers found a market for small, quickly made touristic pieces which sold fast and could be mailed or carried in a rucksack and many of these were based on one book. At this point they probably lost their Egyptian following as the work was readily dismissed as tourist tat, and wealthy Egyptians bought French Tapestries for their walls.

The work remained important as huge panels – five metres by three metres traditionally – for street use. These lined streets for weddings, funerals, Ramadan, celebrations for those returning from the Haj, and any party you can imagine. These are made fast as tentmakers do not get paid until the work is finished – and that means a slow stitcher has a hungry family. A khayameen has to have enough money saved to keep his family for three months to embark on a big street panel.

The work done in the Tentmakers Street is called khayamiya, and at the moment it is some of the best that has ever been made. As most craft work has been endangered skills usually deteriorate as masters die and apprentices do not work to the same level. In Egypt the opposite has happened. Because work is not made for western residents or visitors who want fine and beautiful stitching, stitches are finer, colour is more complex, thread colours change as the applique pieces change, and the patterns are fine and brilliant. New designers use traditional Arab ideas of patterning in ornate and complex ways, and new and brilliant colours have changed the look of the work.

Since the series of political upheavals in the Middle East, tourism as faltered and all but disappeared and the craft is again endangered. We need you to buy the work to keep the men and their stitchers and families working in this craft.

We all hope you enjoy your day with us.


  1. A design is drawn. These are classified according to the number of folds necessary in a piece of paper to create the pattern.
  2. The design is pricked through to all levels of the paper leaving lacy holes in the pattern.
  3. The pattern is placed over a background fabric and pounced through carefully with talcum powder for a dark background, and charcoal or cinnamon for the light backgrounds.
  4. The pattern is redrawn with a pencil – colour selected to be visible on the background.
  5. The background is tacked in a grid onto a large piece of canvas.
  6. Large areas of solid colours are stitched and the pattern re-pounced and drawn on them.
  7. Applique starts with the stitcher working with a big needle, a huge pair of iron shears, and a tailor’s thimble and a rough-cut lump of fabric.
  8. All lines are covered in the applique process.
  9. Care is taken to work ‘underneath’ pieces first, or to leave gaps in the stitching to thread lines though.
  10. Applique continues until the work is finished.
  11. The work is bordered, bound and is ready for selling. If it is a cushion cover – it has a back with a zipper added.

The canvas enables the tentmaker to fold the work doubled so he is always working close to himself. Stitches from a good stitcher do not penetrate to the back of the canvas unless he is adding embroidery.


Jinny Beyer - "I’ve recently returned from a fabulous trip to Indonesia. It was spectacular. Craftours certainly knows how to run a tour. We stayed in a first class resort and took day trips from there. We did lots of sight seeing, sewing, and eating the delicious Indonesian food! This is the third trip that I have taken with them. In all of them the accommodations were first class, the organization exceptional, and on each trip the local guides that were arranged have been awesome....so much planning, knowledge and information has gone into these trips and I recommend them highly."
Bonnie Hunter - I’ve been honored and blessed to have been traveling with Craftours over the past several years as a teacher, lecturer and as a tour escort. The attention to detail and organization of every aspect of the tours from travel logistics, to lodging, activities and highlights are unsurpassed. Be it a cruise, a land tour or other excursion, be prepared for phenomenal itineraries, first class accommodations, knowledgeable and engaging tour guides, and even fabulous and fun bus drivers (land tour) who will give you the trip of a life time. This is the stuff that travel dreams are made of. These are memories that will last a life time. The folks I have met while traveling with Craftours have become friends for life. There are Sew Many Places to see! There are Sew Many Places to discover!
Kaye England - "I consider myself very lucky to have traveled with Craftours. I have seen China, Italy, Bali, Africa, Australia, Ireland, England, Scotland and sailed the seas all while looking at things through a "Quilters Eye". All of the trips have exceeded my expectations with great attention to the details. I have met wonderful people, seen wonderful sites and made a lifetime of memories on our quilting tours. Craftours has a tremendous focus on hotels, food and tour guides which makes the trip memorable for all. I recommend a trip with Craftours as a delightful way to see the world."
Teresa Williamson, Baton Rouge, Louisiana - "The Naperville Cocoon was just what I was looking for! Every instructor was absolutely wonderful and it really opened my eyes to some great techniques. The hotel was great, food was great, and the entire event was very well organized. This was my first time traveling with Craftours and I'm looking forward to another trip!!!"
Linda Umstead, Montague, Michigan - "Had a great time. Instructors were very helpful."
Denise Nehl, Jefferson City, Missouri - "I enjoyed the classes. The instructors were knowledgeable and patient with all levels of skill."
Linda Carpenter, College Station, Texas - "This was my first experience with Craftours; I had a fantastic time. Group B was the best! We could not have had a better group. The instructors were great and I learned a lot from each one. Honoring Rosemary on Wednesday night was a highlight that I nor many of us will ever forget."
Susan McCoy, Elmhurst, Illinois - "A great four day quilting experience."
Leslie Legros, Kenora, Ontario - "This was a wonderful opportunity I would not have had otherwise to meet the 4 Amazing Teachers and of course Kaye England and Lisa B!"
Bryan Nehl, Jefferson City, Missouri - "I initially came for one class in particular. However, I kept an open mind and I learned something in every class."
Kate Schrot, North Mankato, Minnisota - "It was great. Classes were wonderful. The group was friendly and everyone seemed to get along."
Debbie Conlee, Montgomery, Illinois - "I signed up for the event because I don't do ships (seasick!) and wanted a class with Bonnie Hunter. I hesitated to attend class with Mark Sherman and Pam Holland. I am not artistic and that is how I viewed their work. To my delight, I had the best time learning the techniques that Mark and Pam use in their work. I can transfer those skills to other projects. And Pepper Cory was so encouraging to those of us who dreaded curved piecing! Everyone was so welcoming and wanted to make sure that we had a good time. I am still smiling a week later! When is the next cocoon?"
Marilyn Nance, Chicago, Illinois - "I had a wonderful time! The classes, instructors, meals and venue were all terrific."
Christine Hampton, Oregon, Wisconsin - "The Cocoon was the most amazing experience. The best quilt retreat I've been to, by far, and my first trip with Craftours. I learned so much from all the Master Instructors. It was a great line up of workshops. I can't say enough good things about this event. Please repeat the IL Quilting Cocoon soon."
Helen Fox, Blackburn, Australia - "Fabulous, stimulating, inspiring AND I learned and became comfortable with lots of ways of doing things differently - curves, trapunto using multiple layers of different batting, thread stitching and companion ruler for flying geese! Lots of extra sewing time to work on projects and some fun entertainment as well as surprises!"
Doris Troutt, Mt. Vernon, Illinois - "I loved the versatility of the instructors. I did things I didn't believe I was capable of. Thank you instructors!"
Anne Wawrzyniak, McFarland, Wisconsin - "GREAT time. The small class size gave ample opportunity for 1:1 with the instructors. The hotel was comfortable, and large enough that one didn't feel cramped in our rooms or classrooms. The topics covered by the instructors were able to be taught in a one day class without feeling rushed."
Rosemary Dawes, Bedford, Texas - "It was an unbelievable experience. Everything, the instructors, the equipment, the personal support and the technical support, were top notch. For me, nothing compares to my being surprised with the awarding of a Quilt of Valor. It was an experience I will not forget."
Rebecca Andrews, Sahuarita, Arizona - "I enjoyed the cocoon very much. The instructors were great and learned a lot."
Donna Simonton, Clinton, Maryland - "I thought this was a great idea and a lot of fun. Four different teachers with four different techniques made for a great week!"
Antoinette Susie McKelvy, Medina, Texas - "What a wonderful experience. Great teachers, wonderful accommodations, great food."
Terry Klausmeier, Lake Forest, Illinois - "The Naperville Cocoon far surpassed my expectations! The accommodations at the Chicago Marriott were lovely, and the meals served were not only healthy; they tasted great! Kaye and Lisa made sure everything ran smoothly and did it with smiles and laughter! They are quite a team! Mark, Pam, Pepper and Bonnie were the dream team -- their talent, teaching skills and patience made for an amazing retreat! I am already looking for my next adventure! "
Chris Deering, Chicago, Illinois - "I loved this cocoon. It was such a great chance to learn from wonderful instructors and make new quilting friends!"
Mary Boyer, Yankton, SD - “Great tour, learned a lot and the men from Cairo were fabulous!!!!”
Charles & Mary Reed, Caldwell, ID - “The Egyptians who presented the class were "first class"!! They were so talented and eager to share their skills. Such kind and friendly young men!!”
Carol Christy, Bixby, OK - “I loved getting together with like minded women. The instructors were inspiring and fun.”
Sharon Holder, Baton Rouge, LA - “I loved the Tentmakers of Cairo Cocoon! The class was terrific.”
Gwen Walter, Dexter, MI - “An exceptional experience! Loved the instructors, and appreciated their knowledge, and ability to share that knowledge-with a sense of humor! Betsy and Holly had planned every detail and took such great care of us. I would definitely recommend Craftours. Thanks.”
Nancy, La Marque, TX - “Class more than met my expectations.”
Nancy Withers, Batavia, OH - “I had a great time, everything was well planned and all seemed to enjoy the process and everyone's company.”
Peggy Ann Barton, Cornelius, NC - “The Quilting Cocoon in Houston, Texas was not only fun but also great learning and meeting new quilting friends.”
Stella Taft, Howell, MI - “Technique was new and challenging to me. Teachers were very friendly and helpful.”
Donna Carter, Hydes, MD - “I enjoyed learning about the Tentmakers' craft, being introduced to the various designs and methods of their applique style. No question was unanswered, and the teachers had patience for all who requested their help with working on the more difficult stitching.”
Ann Hothem, Newcomerstown, OH - “Very unique experience to participate in an Egyptian tradition.”
Ann McDevitt, Burlington, MA - “The Quilt Festival was great. I enjoyed the classes.”


(per person, based on double occupancy)


To make your reservations call us at +1-815-663-4046 or Toll-Free at: +1-877-887-1188 - USA, Canada or Spain, 001-882-887-1188 - Mexico, 0808 134 9500 - UK, 18 0010 6424 - Australia, or submit your reservations online.

For additional questions regarding airfare, transfers, insurance, pre-night packages, or our convenient payment plan, please call our toll-free number or use our contact form.

This itinerary, pricing and escorts are subject to change. Insurance is available and highly recommended. Single rates are available upon request. Please consult the Terms and Conditions, as they apply starting with the first payment. A 3% discount applies off the cost of the trip, if the trip is paid in full by check with in 7-10 business days of invoice date. Gratuities are additional and will be collected with final payment. All prices listed are in USD unless otherwise noted.