In this guest blog post, Una (aka @creativeflowtv) has sewn the Trumpet pants by Charm Patterns in this beautiful African print fabric from Dovetailed London. Una was gifted this fabric in exchange for a blog post as part of the Dovetailed London Ambassador Program. Want to read on, get a cup of your favourite drink and enjoy!
I was so excited to be picked as one of Aduka’s brand ambassadors! I’ve never worked with African Wax Print before and love all the bright patterns and colours, right up my street.
When I felt the fabric I was very surprised because I’d mistakenly thought that it would be initially a bit stiff, at least before pre-washing. But it was soft and somehow very comforting because it’s also so stable. And there’s also just a little bit of give, which will make it so easy to wear.
I pre-washed it on a cotton wash at 40 degrees to ensure any shrinkage would happen now, though once made up, I’ll wash it as I do all my clothes on a quick wash at 0 degrees. Better for our clothes and the environment! ;-)
The colours stayed fast and are so vibrant. I then set to toiling my original plans for this fabric, the Elsa Culottes by Gretchen “Gertie” Hirsch from her Patreon collection. I first used thin see-through poly cotton to trace the pattern and sew it up and after a few adjustments then used a small piece of coloured Stars on cream fabric in my stash with a similar weight to my African Wax Print fabric.
Success I thought, until I tried to fasten the waistband - too tight! “Oh no!” I can fasten it but breathing becomes optional… LOL. Luckily I can add a piece to the underlap of the waistband to give me some extra room and it won’t been seen.
But my priority was getting this fabric cut out, so the following weekend I laid out the pattern and couldn’t believe it when I was shy about 30 cms of fabric.
After all that work too!
The Elsa has a big centre pleat front and back which makes it very fabric hungry. African Wax Prints are narrow and come in yards, not metres - so please ensure you buy enough for your pattern. Don’t make the mistake I think I made and think you’ve enough because you’re thinking in metres…
OK back to the drawing board, I wanted to sew up a skirt because while the background cerise is totally my colour (I’m a Spring in colour analysis - look it up if you haven’t heard of this - amazing!) there’s a lot of black in this print and when I held it up to my face it it didn’t suit my colouring. Plus it needed to be a skirt that would suit the structure of the fabric and fit my vintage style, my lifestyle and the yardage requirements, so a circle skirt was out.
“I got it! The trumpet skirt from Charm Patterns, Night and Day Dress (most of my makes are by Gertie!) with the Elsa Culottes waistband.
For many of the larger wax print patterns this would not be a good choice because there are 7 seams and I would not like to pattern match all of those! But it was perfect - the finished measurements showed that a size 16 would fit my waist and hips and if I needed to adjust, I’d have 7 seams to do it across and a 1.5cm seam allowance on each. I knew I could make it fit.
So despite never having made this dress or skirt before I went for it! I made a couple of mistakes when cutting the fabric. Firstly, I forgot to flip over a pattern piece because I was cutting on a single layer but then realised I could just turn the fabric around because it’s the same front and back - phew! Secondly, I forgot to look out for the VIP badges printed on the fabric at points along the selvedge and ended up with 2 VIPs showing up by the back seam of my skirt.
Luckily because I’d basted the seams and not installed the zipper before checking the fit, and I needed to take it in on the back, I was able to add another 1cm to the seam allowance and hey presto, the VIP badges disappeared!
Onto the next issue - pockets. I can’t bear to make anything without pockets, definitely an advantage of sewing your own clothes. Originally I was going to mash it up with the Hepburn pencil skirt curved pockets but then decided to do a kind of patch pocket but placed in the side and side front seams with a top opening. I felt this would suit the skirt better and allow me to use the pockets without the skirt itself getting out of shape.
This fabric has such a wonderful combination of softness and structure that I knew that ruching the pocket would look fabulous and be easy to work with.
So I self drafted a pocket and it worked great! I did originally have it curved (using the Hepburn curved pocket a guide) so it would stick out a little to emphasise my hips and make my waist look smaller. (Vain, I know! LOL)
But it only stuck out at the top of the curve so I unpicked about 9 cms on each pocket and pulled it in to lay flat across the top of the pocket. I love how you can unpick this fabric and it’s so solid, it’s really easy to sew. Plus I realised about half-way through sewing the skirt that I’d forgotten to stay stitch the top of the skirt pieces and it didn’t stretch out at all, even though I tried it on multiple times and fiddled about with the pockets. Result.
Next time I’d make the pocket longer but I can fit my phone and business cards in them so I’m happy with the way they are. After checking with Adaku, I decided to do a narrow hem for a nice clean finish.
As a Business Coach (@CreativeFlowTV) working with clients nationally and internationally, I spend much of my time on Zoom. However I network in person every week as well as speaking professionally and I think this skirt and fabric will look amazing for those occasions.
I have some beautiful ivory satin that I’d like to make a couple of tops with to go with this skirt, a sleeveless one for Spring/Summer and a blouse for Autumn/Winter. Styled the right way this fabric will also work for going out to dinner and because of that bit of give and the shape of this skirt, it’ll work for jive dancing too!
I think I’ll get a lot of wear from this skirt and am looking forward to see how it works as it softens over time too. I’ve got about half a yard left so I think I’ll make the Gertie’s Secrets Clutch and a headband. And/or if I’ve enough I might make a belt or cumberband too, all of which will help me with my vintage styling.
All in all I loved working with African Wax Print fabric and will definitely do so again. As a relatively new sewist, just since 2019, I managed to amass quite a fabric stash but much from my early days when I a) didn’t really know what I was doing and b) wanted to buy more cheaply so I felt free to make mistakes.
Now though, I only buy quality fabrics and this African Wax Print ticks all my boxes: breathable, natural fibres, easy to work with, holds its colour, sturdy so not showing every bump!
Give it a go, you won’t regret it!
Want to sew with African fabric? Shop here.
Looking for a range of sewing patterns designed specifically with African wax print fabric in mind, shop here.
Want to buy ready-made in a selection of Dovetailed garments? Shop ready made here.
Want to make your own with a little help? Shop workshops here.