(per person, based on double occupancy)


To make your reservations call us at
815-663-4046 or Toll-Free at:
877-887-1188 - USA or Canada
02393 880068 - 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.

TENTMAKERS OF CAIRO Quilting Cocoon™ June 2021
We are very happy to announce that the Tentmakers of Cairo will be coming to the United States this year after this long Covid quarantine! And we can’t think of a better location than Lincoln, Nebraska, home of the International Quilt Museum. Our Craftours Quilting Cocoon™ experience will give you the opportunity to learn “How to Quilt Like an Egyptian,” where you will learn up to 8 different sewing techniques that are sure to enhance your skill level as a quilter and sewer. Besides these amazing hands-on workshops, there is also the opportunity to participate in an optional “behind the scenes” tour to the International Quilt Museum, enjoy a fun quilt shop-hop, a special show & tell with local quilters and much more! Start planning something special for yourself next summer and let your quilting soul begin to dance-Egyptian style! Space is limited and on a first come-first served basis. Don’t miss out on this exclusive opportunity to learn directly from the incredible Tentmakers of Cairo!
  • First-class hotel accommodations for five nights.
  • Craftours professional representatives on-hand the entire time.
  • Delicious buffet breakfast served daily.
  • Special “welcome dinner,” introductions and orientation meeting.
  • An afternoon “shop hop” with local quilt shops in the Lincoln area.
  • Craftours silent auction to benefit the Colors of Kids.
  • $100.00 credit voucher towards Craftours Arts & Crafts Experiences.
  • An optional behind the scenes” guided tour of the International Quilt Museum, including lunch.
  • Special Show & Tell with local quilters in Lincoln.
  • A special showing of the Emmy nominated show "Destination Craft with Jim West."
  • Three full days of hands-on workshops with the amazing Tentmakers of Cairo.
  • Beautiful Egyptian cotton fabric to use for your projects.
  • Up to 8 specialized quilting techniques taught by the master Tentmakers of Cairo.
  • A delicious “farewell dinner” and special parting gifts.
  • Craftours lanyard and commemorative gift.
  • All taxes included and insurance is highly recommended.
Cost of this 6-day Quilting Cocoon™ with the Tentmakers of Cairo is:
Reserve your Space Now!
Call Toll-Free 877-887-1188
Any questions please e-mail: [email protected]

Space is based on first-come/first-served. 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.


The cost of this optional "behind the scenes" guided tour of the International Quilt Museum, including lunch is $48.97 per person.

“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;

Or our own Etsy Store;

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.


Janet Leigh North, Seminole, OK- "Since I will be attending the Lakeshore Quilting Retreat in Chicago when the deadline for reviews arrives, I would like to comment on my PRE-retreat experience. The ladies at Craftours have been absolutely WONDERFUL! They have thoroughly answered all my questions, responded to every email &/or phone call, and have been very pleasant and professional the whole way!! I am SO looking forward to flying to Chicago tomorrow and attending the Lakeshore Quilting Retreat!!"
Joan Gillespie, Ottawa, Canada- "The Chicago Lakeshore Quilting Retreat was a wonderful experience. The quality of the instructors was a highlight and even though I have been quilting for many years I learned a lot of new ideas and techniques from each of them."
Sara Gulbrandsen, Poukeepsie, New York - "I had a wonderful time at the Lake Shore Quilting Retreat. The choice of hotel was excellent. Wonderful service and great food. The trunk shows were the highlight of the weekend. The choice of teacher specialties was varied and, because of this, everyone’s interests were satisfied."
Lois Thibault, Garden, MI- "The Lake Shore Quilting Retreat was perfect. I loved Chicago. The artistic teachers were a real treat. I would do it again in a heartbeat!"
Sandy , - "I took an Alaskan cruise, merging two of my favorite things: Alaska and Quilting. The projects were mostly geared to Alaska which made them special to me. We also were able to shop in some great quilt stores in addition to the "shop" aboard ship. Looking at the projects and fabrics I brought home with me brings back wonderful memories of my cruise."
Rosalind Barrett, Patchogue, NY - "I went to Alaska last year with Craftours and it was amazing! Not only did I get to enjoy the scenic vistas of that great state but I was able to fill the off hours sewing with Bonnie Hunter. Craftours made this a trip of a lifetime by including those two items from my bucket list"
Sharon McKinney, Ventura, CA - "The August 2013 Alaskan Cruise/Make a Quilt with Eleanor Burns was really a fun experience for me, a novice quilter. Our sewing room was equipped with all new sewing machines and although space was tight, we all managed to sew to our heart’s content on day 1. The Craftours staff went out of their way to provide extra time in the room which had not been planned previously and when resolved those few problems which were bound to occur with speed and always with a smile on their faces."
Amy Flenniken, Virginia - "I took an Alaska cruise through Craftours last summer. I had many questions as a first-timer to Alaska, cruising, and taking a quilting class. The SMP staff were most helpful. On board the ship, Beth from SMP scouted out all the quilt shops for us, Bonnie Hunter was an attentive and splendid instructor, and we had brand new Janome machines to sew with. It was a great vacation all around."
Kathy Wukela, Mansfield, Ohio - "I had the pleasure of taking a cruise to Alaska with Craftours in the fall of 2009 . I had a total hip replacement in June and although I moved a little slower than most of the travelers the accommodations were outstanding and our hostess so caring. I was able to take an excursion and sent a picture of myself standing on a glacier to my surgeon! Not only did I make many new friends I was able to go home with a new quilt top."
Jim and Lauren Teubner, Sublimity, OR-"We went on an Alaska cruise/tour in September 2006. Our 40th Anniversary occurred on Sept 10 as we arrived at the Princess Denali Resort and we saw the Mountain. Mt McKinley was visible in the afternoon as we arrived and we have photos taken from 3:30pm to 9:30pm. Wow what a treat. The whole cruise through the inner passage and the train tour through Denali was so beautiful in September."
Nancy Howard, Chesapeake, VA- "In 2010 we went on an Alaska tour with Charlotte Angotti. The trip was fantastic. We had a lot of fun. The quilting was fun. Craftours was a great host and everything was taken care of. Will take another trip with them any time."
Marge Geary, Williston Park, NY -"LOVED the Route 66 trip, it was very well planned and when things did not go according to plan, the plans were changed easily. I also like that it included the history of the places."
Jaqueline Mills, Medford, New Jersey - "Alaska was everything I hoped it would be. Traveling with Crafters allowed me to share the experience with others who share my passion for quilting. As a single woman, traveling alone, this made my trip all the more enjoyable."
Linda Helders, Neshkoro, Wisconsin - "The cruise was wonderful, & I enjoyed the sewing"
Ellen MacLaughlin, Midland, Michigan - "Wonderful trip meeting all my new quilting sisters."
Barbara Giguere, Shelburne, Massachusetts - "The Alaskan Cruise with Bonnie Hunter was quilting fun from beginning to end! This was my first Craftours trip and I hope it won't be my last."
Rena Shield, Roscoe, Illinois - "Enjoyed the cruise very much"
Cindi Burgdorf, Florissant, Missouri - "I had a wonderful time. The set up for sewing was great, and Royal Caribbean is a good choice for your tours."
Debi Persson, Duluth, Minnesota - "It was an amazing cruise! And a bonus to meet Bonnie Hunter."
Colleen Welch, Bandon, OR - "This was a great experience. Enjoyed meeting fellow quilters and learning new techniques."
Judy Saville, Tehachapi, CA - "It was an intense learning experience allowing us to get to know the instructors and better understand and use their learning techniques."
Eunice Sutter, Pace, FL - "I love the cocoon atmosphere. The classes had twelve crafters who were always sharing and helping each other. The class chemistry was amazing. Old friendships were renewed and new friendships made. The teachers were relaxed and amazing. Each student received one on one instruction as needed"
Susan Owen, Colorado Springs, CO - "This Cocoon was an excellent experience for me in a beautiful setting. I thoroughly enjoyed sharing the expertise of the instructors. Their work is incredible!"
Susan McCoy, Elmhurst, IL - "A great time -- meeting new quilters, learning from innovative teachers and staying in a beautiful resort in Santa Fe, NM! All good!"
Mary Ann Hayre, Santa Rosa, CA - "Wonderful teachers in a world class setting"
Barb Gabriel, Bremerton, WA - "This is my first ever Craftours experience of any kind and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Mary Ellen, our host, was on the spot every minute of the day with whatever we needed. I'm sure she worked hard behind the scenes to make sure our needs were met. My fellow "cocooners" were a joy to get to know, work with, play with and interesting in their own right. I am seriously considering repeating this experience."
Shirley Shaw, Chandler, AZ - "Teachers, awesome, patient and fun. I learned so much from each of them. Scott, as always. Very good in keeping us sewing, Mary Ellen made it all work. I met amazing, courageous women of all walks of life and professions. Thank you"
Anna Kurrent, Pinole, CA - "First time attending a Cocoon and was very pleased at the content and quality of teachers."
Rosemary Dawes, Bedford, TX - "The 4 classes were so different that every day brought a new experience."
Julie Archer, Haymarket, VA - "This was my third Cocoon and the best yet. All four of the amazing teachers generously shared their time and talents. Mary Ellen, our Craftour escort, was fantastic as always. She made sure we were well taken care of and on schedule."
Kim Neible , Nashville, TN- "My first experience with Craftours. I thought it would be a good way to get some experience with them as a tour group. It was everything I had and more. Perfect balance of class and sew time. Lunch lectures were inspiring. The opportunity to see after dinner was great and an added bonus. I don’t know how or what you would do to make it better. Good job!"
Marsha Mowery , Fort Collins, CO- "The Cocoon experience was delightful. I thoroughly enjoyed being immersed in quilting for four wonderful days."
Lucy Harville , Central Point, OR- "The teachers were wonderful, format was well-thought-out, class size was conducive to learning."
Judy Valentino , Hales Corners, WI- "I had a great time, I liked all the instructor very much. I consider myself an experienced quilter and I learned something new from each teacher."
Kate Schrot , North Mankato, MN- "Overall had a fun time. Small classes meant a lot time with the instructors."
Lee Buhr , Cedar Rapids, IA- "I felt I had found my ’tribe’. Creative ladies who were fearless, love to learn, and love to travel."
Nancy Neal , Buffalo Grove, IL- "The teachers at this Cocoon were the best. I felt privileged to have the opportunity to learn from them. Thanks"
Liz Didier , Covington, LA- "I learned so many new approaches and techniques. This was a most inspiring experience."
Susan McCoy , Elmhurst, IL- "My fourth cocoon and great as ever! Always a wonderful experience."
Marilyn Nance , Chicago, IL- "The Cocoon was warm and wonderful learning experience with knowledgeable and kind teachers. I had a wonderful time."
Chris Deering , Niles, IL- "Wonderful classes with great teachers. S nice balance of different types of skills."
Jeanette Colligan , Maple Grove, MN- "Mary Ellen was very organized and helpful in every aspect of this Cocoon to make us comfortable. All the Master teachers were awesome!"
Melanie Dreiman , Cape Girardeau, MO- "Excellent planning, organization and execution of the event. Excellent facilities, tools & equipment. Excellent instructors sharing a variety of useful techniques. Excellent nurturing of camaraderie between all. Do you have a lifetime sign-up sheet so I can attend this event every year for the rest of my life? Where do I sign up?"
Margorie Sellers , Beaverton, OR- "I took this trip to meet new people, and see the mid-section of the US. Both were accomplished."
Cathy Climpson , Sharon, Ontario- "Great trip to see the nostalgia of this part of America!"
Jane Sheppard , Saint Joseph, MO- "Great tour, great company. Well worth the price of the trip!"
Sandra Geho , Marietta, NY- "I don’t know any other trip where you can see natural wonders, man made wonders, beautiful scenery and learn so much about our history."
Karen Oertel , Camillus, NY- "I decided that I wanted to see more of our country and this seemed like a great way to experience it. The group was a perfect size for this trip. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the activities and places we stopped at."
Kathy Alexander , Eugene, OR- "Fantastic, exciting, educational, heartfelt, a trip of a lifetime!"
Lee Buhr , Cedar Rapids, IA- "The trip was wonderful. It was what I had hoped for, fun, quirky, awe inspiring and spontaneous. What inspired me the most was the wonderful group of fellow travelers."
Bobbie Dewees , Springfield, VA- "I thought the Route 66 trip was the BEST bus-based guided tour I had ever taken. The bus was not crowded, the leader and driver were both exceptional. I was most pleased that the agenda had enough wiggle-room that we could go off script and see some of the kitchy Route 66 sights which is what I was expecting."
Susan Tischler , Woodstock, GA- "My goal was to see more of America and this trip met that goal. The experience was Extraordinary!"
Don Chudzy , Calgary, Canada- "The tour met all of my expectations. It had the proper level of structure combined with the flexibility to react to situations as they arose. The tour did cover a great distance but as the weather was outstanding, there was always something to see and enjoy. Rest stops to eat and stretch were never a problem and made the days go by quickly. Hotels were excellent as was the transportation. The driver had very good knowledge of the areas and was entertaining."
Diane Green , Newark, OH- "This was a great trip with wonderful new friends and lots of nostalgia."