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For the Love of Ankara

Hey ya'll! How are you doing? How have you been? As you can see, I have been off schedule with my post! Just being transparent over here. No excuses...only life and business. For the whole month of October, I have had the pleasure, to sew for others! It brings me such joy to be able to share my gift of sewing with others. Because of this, I was finally able to decide on my packaging notes. So as much as I love to sew, I am just as much a fanatic over packaging! You read me right...packaging! I want my customers to experience the care and thoughtfulness that I put into packaging their items as much as making them.

I digress...let me get to the topic at hand...Ankara fabric makes! Ankara fabric, which is also known as African or Dutch wax prints. Ankara is very popular in West African countries, especially Nigeria. It was originally manufactured by the Dutch for the Indonesian textile market, however, because of the tribal-like patterns, the prints gained significantly more interest in West African countries. I absolutely love working with Ankara fabric for several reasons:

#1: The fabric represents the Motherland and just know that I am for all things Africa

#2: The fabric comes in an array of beautiful vibrant colors and prints

#3: The fabric is sturdy and can hold a crease like nobody's business

#4: The fabric does not fade or shrink easily

#5: The fabric is very versatile and can be manipulated very easily

#6: The fabric is unique so you would most likely never see someone else wearing a

a garment like yours

I remember the first time that I bought Ankara fabric; I was in Virginia and we went to Potomac Mills Mall. There was a shop in the mall named Me2 Designs ( that sold Ankara garments, accessories and fabric . I bought 6 yards, which is usually the way that it is sold. The print was so vibrant and beautiful that it took me over a year to figure out what I wanted to make with it and to be confident in cutting the fabric! I have since been building a stash waiting for the 'spirit' to move and give me a vision on what to make with each print. I have made two of my own skirts with Ankara so far and I just finished up two projects for my friend.

Project #1: So a friend of mine wanted a Lady O original African print maxi skirt as well as some pillows to add color in her sunroom. She chose a beautiful Ankara fabric that I was able to make five (18 x 18) pillow cases out of. I had to cut the fabric strategically in order to have the vibrant print as the focal point. I added an invisible zipper in each of the cases for easy removal when she wants to wash them.

Project #2: Let me say a little about the "Lady O" original African print maxi shirt. It's an original Lady O skirt because I made it, however, I did not create the pattern, so it's not original in that sense. I must give credit to a fantastic designer/teacher that I follow on youTube named Montoya Mayo @montoyamayo. I used her Toya Skirt pattern which includes a flat front and elastic back waist band. It also has pockets (my fave)!!! This skirt is very easy to make and she is a fantastic teacher. She is actually a teacher in real life, and it shows through how simple, yet thorough she is in her tutorials.

Maxi skirt before it was hemmed

Funny story...I had to make this skirt twice. The first skirt was way too big for my friend. I did not take into account the fact that the skirt had elastic and when it was all finished I saw that the sticker residue was still on the fabric (even after the fabric was pre-washed). Yes, I could have altered the skirt, but I am pretty OCD when it comes to sewing. I enjoy doing alterations on garments that are off the shelf, however, if I made the garment I do not like having to do additional alterations. I compare it to being an artist and taking the time and energy to create a drawing or painting only to see that after it is finished it needs to be corrected. I would not want to to take my eraser and start erasing large portions of the drawing; no I would just start over from scratch. That's just me and that's just what I did...I ordered more fabric and I made another skirt from scratch.

If you are in market for Ankara fabric, I have put together a list of on-line shops (below) for you that I have used because you have to be careful when you purchase fabric that you cannot feel beforehand. My list is verified as having authentic and quality Ankara fabrics. Here are five ways to tell a good quality Ankara fabric:

#1: The authentic Ankara is 100% cotton, whereas the fake (fancy) prints are made from


#2: Authentic Ankara will usually have deeper and richer colors

#3: Authentic Ankara has the same precise prints on both sides of the fabric

#4: Authentic Ankara print is also smooth to the touch. If it's coarse, it is mostly fancy

#5: Authentic Ankara print holds its color. If you dip it into the water and squeeze, and

dye off, it is not authentic

Also, the fabric company/manufacturer will always indicate the type of fabric/product and a registration number is printed on the selvage of the fabric to let you know the quality and to protect from imitators.

If you would like to purchase Ankara fabric, here is a list that I have put together:

* (House of Mamiwata)

* (Smurfett Fabricshop)

* (TessWorldDesigns)

* (Veroex African Wear & Fabrics)

Let me know what you think I should make with my Ankara stash, or better yet, let me know if you want your own Lady O original!

Until next time, I'll be "Sewing seeds of my dream, one stitch at a time."

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