West African Commemorative Fabric

Time for some more intercultural fashion!  Today I've got a couple of West African fabrics, both commemorating events.

In Africa it's pretty typical to create fabrics specifically for a certain event, and these two fabrics are some recent examples.  Both of them are the result of events held by Assemblies of God members (a Christian church denomination).  The one with pink in it celebrates the 40 year anniversary of the opening of a theological seminary in Togo, and the purple and white one was for an annual meeting of leaders and church members in Burkina Faso.

I'm no expert, but I think the purple one is what's called a "fancy print." It's a 100% cotton roller-printed fabric.  The pink one is a "wax print," and the "wax" part refers to how the colors are separated as it's made… with wax.  You can usually tell the difference because wax prints feel a bit waxy!  Clever huh?  (You can read more about the difference here.)

It's common for West African fabrics to feature large, bright prints like these, and they can incorporate pictures and words like these do, along with geometric designs.  They differ from a lot of East African fabrics in that the print isn't divided into rectangles; it's continuous.  Kangas in East Africa also tend to feature proverbs, and these West African versions don't (at least not nearly as often!).

My friends attended these meetings, and these are scraps leftover from some fabulous clothing they had made!  I LOVE how this works: everyone attending buys the same fabric, then everyone takes it to be made into an outfit.  So, everyone can be identified as part of the group while still maintaining their own personal flair.  To me, this is a great picture of a lot of African cultures: community-oriented and individually unique!


  1. So with a wax print, would you need to take special care when washing it? I would guess it would be something that shouldn't go in the dryer?

    1. So from the wax prints I have had, I've just washed them in the washer and dryer. It washes some of the wax coating off, but that just makes the fabric softer. I'd be sure to wash in cold water so the colors don't run, but I think it's alright to put in a dryer! If in doubt, test a small swatch first.

  2. I love that idea of everyone sewing something from the same fabric! I'd love to attend an event where that happened. It's a great example of how fabric and clothes help us feel a sense of community and connection.

  3. It is one of the best think by using different kind of prints in african fabrics ..so that community can know about african fabrics.n it's also looks simply n gorgeous .