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Jan 1, 2017

African Wax Print Project or "Happy New Shirt!"

Readers, do you remember the African wax prints above, which I purchased more than a year ago in the Garment District, along with a third, which I turned into the shirt below (one of my summer favorites)?

I decided my last project of 2016 -- and first completed project of 2017 -- would be a new shirt made with one of my two remaining African prints.  I chose the blue and yellow one.  As you can see, laid flat (below), it's not the easiest print to work with.  As much as I wanted to feature those spirals prominently, in the end they were simply too large and too target-like for my taste.  I didn't want someone to throw a dart at my back or worse.

So I did what any of you would have done: I designed the shirt around the yellow stripes (which remind me of the Cat in the Hat's tail) and the blue areas. 

This is the back of the shirt (so far).  I did use part of a spiral in the yoke.

Here's how I used another spiral: I cut along the outside edge of the yellow lines with my serger to create long cascades.  I experimented how I might place them on the shirt front.  I like how they give the otherwise flat design some dimension.

I then ruffled the spirals.   The result would have been perfect for a clown costume.

The shirt isn't done yet, but you can get a sense below how things are progressing.  In the end, however, I opted not to attach the ruffles in quite this way -- it looked too much like a lei. 

I intend to finish the shirt tomorrow and will share the result with you in the days ahead.  I really enjoy the challenge of working with these vivid African prints, which are so very different from traditional shirting fabric.

In closing, I hope you all had a great New Year's and I look forward to lots of sewing adventures in 2017.

Have a great day, everybody!

One of my many draping experiments with this fabric.
Read about my first African print shirt here.


  1. Love this and can't wait to see the final result. I have no self control when it comes to wax prints so it's always great to get some ideas on how to wear them! Happy 2017!

  2. Your blog posts are the highlight of my week. Thx for the inspiration!

  3. Looks like it's going to be a very fun shirt. Can't wait to see it. It's gonna look great with the new shorts you made too.

  4. SeamsterEast at aolJanuary 2, 2017 at 6:14 AM

    Excellent. You have a real eye for pulling a design out of that pattern. I particularly like the vertical stripes with circles around the neck.

  5. Thanks for this post. I have two prints that my daughter bought me when she volunteered in Africa and I have kept them for several years, not knowing how to use them. This gives me some great ideas!

  6. For a minute there I was worried about the ruffles ;) but you pulled this one off brilliantly!

  7. Fab print , glad you haven't opted for the clown frill ! Looking forward to first completed project of 2017 !

  8. You designed the heck out of that African print! The result is wonderful!

  9. You are so very creative! I love what you done with both shirts and the fabric, just awesome! Looking forward to seeing the completed look! Happy New Year!

  10. It's Suessical! Love that pattern energy that you've harnessed.

  11. Hi Peter, just found you, what a great creative blog.
    I noticed you hadva link to Bernina machines, I have a 1968 model record and yes I wouldn't trade it for anything. My machine mechanic is second generation Bernina service shop and he gave me some tips you might like,
    Don't over oil
    Modern Singer oil is the best , the old stuff was not good.
    Always keep the machine covered when not in use
    Have a folded hand towel or a small quilt underneath to absorb any vibration that can affect the timing mechanism
    He says the old ones are so well built he never had to give up and use for parts, they can always be repaired.
    Hope you are enjoying yours.

    1. Welcome, Margaret! Yes, those old mechanical Berninas were true workhorses. I'm very happy with my 930, which I believe dates back to the early 80's.


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