The Curious History of “Tribal” Prints

There’s an interesting article my friend Liz sent my from Slate.com on Dutch Wax Prints. When I was in Ghana several years ago, it was clear that ‘Dutch’ wax was considered the best in ‘tribal’ prints. The article goes on to say that the prints we readily associated with West Africa are really more Indonesian than anything. Here’s the article if you’re interested.

Athropologie has used them to cover ottomans and to upholster chairs. Woolrich Woolen Mills turned them into short-sleeve button-ups, and Agnes B. used them to make a summer suit. Burberry Prorsum tailored them into prim dresses and separates, while over at L.A.M.B., Gwen Stefani has used them to make some of the smallest minis known to man. Even the new Marni collection for H&M is studded with them.* 

Here’s a link to the fabric I bought in Ghana and projects made by my sewing friends with it.

And the only one left in my closet is this Tracy Reese Vogue pattern. I have just one more cut left and it’s become ‘too nice to use’. I suspect I won’t even touch it until this dress falls apart.

I grew out of my original favorite… it now resides with my mom. I like to tell myself it was always too small in the bust… If I could get my hands on this material or a similar border print, I would sew it up again in a heartbeat.