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Dec 9, 2015

My First African Wax Print Garment!



Monday afternoon I was heading uptown to a meeting and, with half an hour to spare, decided to pop into the hit-or-miss fabric store "It's a Material World" on 39th Street in the Garment District. 

I stumbled upon a large selection of African wax prints -- $5 per yard or $4 per yard for ten yards.   I'd seen these kind of fabrics before and always admired their vibrant colors and intricate designs.  (More about African wax fabrics here and here.)

I decided to purchase three different prints.  My intention was to launder the wax out and, if the fabric was soft enough, to make some summer shirts, loose pajama-style pants or...I wasn't even sure.  Yesterday morning I threw the fabric in the laundry and, as I'd hoped, they came out of the dryer soft enough to wear next to the skin, the colors still vivid.  I can't speak for all African wax prints, but my particular fabrics felt like medium weight muslin, with about the same weave.



Naturally we all wanted to drape ourselves in them.









I opted to make a short-sleeve shirt out of the oversized red and yellow diamond print (draped on Michael above).  There's nothing very interesting to report about the process so I'll just skip to the results.  (The pattern I used is vintage McCall's 3995 from 1957.)







Ideally I would combine some of these prints like the designer Stella Jean does, but I'm not sure these would work together -- or maybe I just need to be more open-minded!



How about you?  Ever experiment with African wax prints?

Have a great day, everybody!

41 comments:

  1. Your shirt really takes me back to my childhood, it's the real vintage deal, only new. It's beautifully executed.

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  2. I made an African wax print dress, from a 1950's pattern. The fabric was printed with three different prints in the same colorway, and I ended up mixing two prints together for the dress, using one for the bodice and one for the skirt. It went really well. You can see the results here! http://sewingfaille.blogspot.com/2015/03/advance-9441-1950s-kimono-sleeve-dress.html

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  3. Nice shirt and excellent pattern matching! I think mixing prints is tricky and looking at yours I don't see a successful mix. Karen

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    1. Nothing interesting to report???? What about perfect pattern matching!

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  4. I have not used any of this fabric but wanted to say, I love your shirt. The matching is perfection.

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  5. I'm absolutely stunned at your pattern matching! Brilliant shirt

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  6. Beautiful work! I have worked with a few wax prints in the past. They last FOREVER, and have wonderfully vibrant colors. I often seek to soften their voice in my outfits, though... since they kinda scream, like I'm trying to make a statement, so I often use them for accents, like pockets and things. I take them in a Koos Van Akker direction, mostly... or I use them for Home Dec (like I did here: http://www.shopthegarmentdistrict.com/2015/04/17-later-curtains-and-my-fight-for.html )

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  7. I'm impressed that you matched the diagonal lines! I've been admiring African prints as well- would like to make a full skirt and a shift dress out of them.

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  8. Really nice! I have to admit I don't care for these fabrics at all but then... Your shirt is stunning! Really well done! And how did you manage the perfect matching? I'm jealous! (And I think we're classmates at craftsy's shirtclass.:))

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    1. Careful measuring and placement! I've never taken a Craftsy class but many look wonderful.

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  9. Back when I lived in Ghana, I had lots of shirts made locally - I only wish they had looked as fabulous as yours!

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  10. I love love ethnic prints. The shirt is great. Janie

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  11. You know I love African prints!!! They are so vibrant and definitely have a vintage look to them. I've had nothing but great results using them. Your shirt looks awesome!

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  12. Love it all! Claudine was wearing a Dutch wax dress at MPB day this past summer. Remember? It totally got my wheels spinning. Probably like a lot of your readers, I'll be following in your footsteps.

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    1. I'd forgotten. Here it is:

      https://picasaweb.google.com/101177577152766699680/MPBDayAugust82015?authkey=Gv1sRgCJj4-pSn1crHxwE#6181010804249939074

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  13. Amazing!! I absolutely love the shirt!! Great patterns!

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  14. Is that shirt cut on the bias? No weird draping or sagging.

    It looks fantabulous!!!

    There is something Dr. Suessian about the fabric your mother is ensconced in (she brightens every posting where she's featured). Could a sleeveless, or capped sleeve dress be in her future?

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    1. It's not cut on the bias, the design has those diagonal lines and diamond shapes. Dr. Seuss -- that's just what I thought!

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  15. That you chose to keep the yellow away from the collar (and your face) is very wise! Of the three you chose, the one you made the shirt with is my favorite. Beautiful job, as usual.

    These wax prints make me think of batik. (I will investigate your links later when I've some time.) Great stuff.

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  16. Ok how did you get that done so fast??

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  17. I have never worked with waxed African prints but probably should because I love the vibrant colors. Your did a fantastic job placing those diamonds. Beautiful shirt!

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  18. I bought a beautiful silver and blue waxed African print fabric a few years ago and ruined it when I pretreated it in the washing machine and a tumble in the dryer. If I do recall correctly, there were tears. I haven't purchased anymore since, but I do admire the fabric every time I walk by it at the fabric store. Your shirt is perfect.

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  19. Love your pattern matching. Well done :)

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  20. Stunning. The pattern matching on your shirt is amazing. Your work is impeccable.

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  21. Awesome work on the pattern matching in front, and on balancing the patter on the back yoke and collar.

    I think you could combine the red/yellow and blue/yellow, they both share similar value vibrant colors. To my eye, the brown would need something else to combine with.

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  22. Shirt looks fabulous. Those vibrant colors and patterns. Will make a cold New York a tropical paradise

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  23. Absolutely spot on! I adore African wax prints and the scale can be tricky, especially if you are not wearing African regalia. So glad to see you dipping your toe in. :)

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  24. I gasped when I saw your shirt, it's great work and fun to boot. I'm just off to grab some Pacific Island print which is the nearest thing available in my neck of the woods.

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  25. I agree with everyone about the pattern matching because being so big and so geometric it could hardly be less forgiving. Not sure about mixing them with other prints but they could perhaps work with plain coloured fabrics?? But there again I'm not sure how it would work with fabrics with a different drape......

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  26. African wax prints are my favorite fabrics! I haven't done much work in them (I have a hot pink shrimp/prawn print in my stash that I have 6 yards of). I love the vivid colors, and the crackling pattern that the wax often leaves. That blue/yellow swirl pattern is gorgeous! I can't wait to see what else you make with these.

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  27. I worked at a shop in NY (Long-gone) that was the first vendor of the "Dutch Wax" fabrics in the US. We were also the first to bring in Liberty of London fabric. I love the trad blue fabrics in DW...am piecing a quilt now, having found an ebay vendor with "far quarters" Have fun!

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  28. The shop was "Fabrications" in case anybody remembers that far back!

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  29. How fun is this shirt! Love it Peter : )

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  30. When my husband went to Uganda on a business trip a few years ago I asked him to bring back fabric so I have a bunch of it but I haven't had the time to sit down and plan a garment. Your shirt is so lovely it makes me want to move that project to the top of my list.

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  31. Did you pretreat the fabric? How do you launder the finished garment? Have the colors remained vibrant? You've done an amazing job with pattern matching.

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    1. I laundered the fabric in the machine before sewing and since then have washed only by hand. Yes, the colors still look vibrant.

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