My passion is fabrics but my ultimate guilty pleasure is African fabrics & textiles! I love the vibrant colours, the wax printed & screen printed designs, the traditional patterns and the contemporary designs and the wonderful hand-dyed fabrics and handpainted batiks.
The traditional Shweshwe printed cotton, from South Africa, is one of my favourite fabrics to work with. The fabric is manufactured in various colours including the original indigo, chocolate brown and red, in a large variety of designs including florals, stripes, diamond, square and geometrical patterns.
Shweshwe is traditionally used to make dresses, skirts, aprons and wraparound clothing. Worn by newly married Xhosa women, known as 'makoti', and married Sotho women. As well as traditional wear, shweshwe is used in contemporary South African fashion design for women and men from all ethnic groups, as well as for making accessories and upholstery. If anyone watched the TV series 'The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency', Jill Scott, who portrayed the main character Mma Precious Ramotswe, wore outfits made from shweshwe.
Previously imported from the mills of Lancashire, the trademarked fabric has been maufactured by Da Gama Textiles in the Zwelitsha township in the Eastern Cape since 1982. In 1992 Da Gama Textiles bought the sole rights to 'Three Cats', the most popular brand of the fabric made by Spruce Manufacturing Co. Ltd in Manchester, and the original engraved copper rollers were shipped to South Africa. Da Gama has since made shweshwe from cotton imported from Zimbabwe and grown locally in the Eastern Cape.
When I return from my visits to South Africa, with my case full of shweshwe, I always feel I am bringing some of it right back to where it started from!!
Box of Shweshwe glasses cases all ready for market!
SHWESHWE FABRIC ANIMALS... currently researching, hopefully coming soon!