What you have to know about African fabrics


For me the African patterns and colours work like sugar for the brain…I am totally addicted to them. They are very different and I just feel that we should wear them more often because they can affect our mood and cheer us up.

The traditional African prints, or as they also call them, the Ankara, are a very popular and part of the everyday life in Africa. Men and women wear them too, even pink is popular among both sexes. The fabrics are usually sold in 6 yards. Some are produced in Africa, some in Western Europe. Unfortunately lately some bad quality fabrics have also entered the market, so it is better to be careful while buying. The best fabrics are 100% cotton, and usually it is very hard to differenciate, which one is the front and which one is the back of the fabric, because both sides are very properly painted. Often they are waxed, which makes the fabric harder and gives it a nice shiny look. The wax will disappear after washing the fabric. I always suggest that the fabrics and the clothes should be washed at 30 degrees handwash. That way the colours will stay bright for long. I have a lot of fabrics for sale. In the webshop you can find cotton fabrics, bazin fabrics, african fabrics which are mixed with polyester, and I also have a beautiful woven kente.

The patterns are usually very colourful and they have meaning, they may contain traditional symbols also. These are some west African symbols. I hope you have recognized mine among the

One of the most well-known fabrics in West Africa is the Kente from Ghana. The original Kente is a woven cloth, made of strips. one of the ancient fabrics of Africa, before the printed materials came. Every colour has a special meaning:

  • black: maturation, intensified spiritual energy
  • blue: peacefulness, harmony and love
  • green: vegetation, planting, harvesting, growth, spiritual renewal
  • pink: associated with the female essence of life; a mild, gentle aspect of red
  • purple: associated with feminine aspects of life; usually worn by women
  • red: political and spiritual moods; bloodshed; sacrificial rites and death.
  • yellow: preciousness, royalty, wealth, fertility, beauty

My fabrics are usually well-known in West Africa. Some of them have names and stories. I found some interesting stories on the website of Vlisco, which is a Dutch fabric producer company, they produce really nice and good quality materials.

I love nature, so I was very happy when I got this fabric. I was like wow, these trees are wonderful! Until I found out that these shapes actually symbolize Kofi Annan’s brain. Funny, isn’t it?

This fabric comes in many colour combinations. You would think that it has a nice romantic name like Peacock or something, but no. It got the less elegant name Electric Bulbs 🙂

Another fabric that has a funny story is this one. They say the pattern represents an angry woman lying in bed, turning away from her husband. The husband is begging her to forgive him and turn to him. Sweet story, is it not? This fabric, just like most patterns, comes in different colour combinations, so probably everyone will find one that has their favourite colours.

If you are also interested in these interesting stories, check them out here.