EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT AFRICAN PRINT FABRIC

WHAT IS AFRICAN WAX PRINT FABRIC 

African Wax Print, also known as Ankara fabric, is a mass produced, colorful, 100% cotton cloth commonly worn and used to make clothing, accessories and other products in Africa.

The method of producing the fabric is called batik, a wax resist dyeing technique and ancient art form that originates from Indonesia.

The print design and colors look the same on both the front and back sides of the fabric. The quality of the fabric depends on the type of cotton cloth used as well as the manufacturing processes used.

A whole ‘double’ piece of Ankara fabric is 12 yards in length but you may also be able to purchase half ‘single’ pieces, which are 6 yards in length. The width of the fabric varies between different manufacturers; it is usually 46 to 48 inches. 

THE HISTORY OF ANKARA/KITENGE FABRIC

When the Dutch colonized Indonesia, their merchants discovered batik fabrics and brought samples back to The Netherlands.

Dutch textile manufacturers developed ways to print the fabric in bulk by machine and started to produce cheaper batik inspired imitation fabrics.

These new fabrics were not popular in Indonesia, as the original batik fabrics were preferred. However, they were well received when imported into West Africa in the 1880’s.

The popularity of the fabrics was large due to West Africa soldiers, who were serving in Indonesia, as they brought back the batik fabrics when they returned home.

Several different manufacturers in Europe, including the British and Dutch, produced the fabric for many years before manufacturing expanded to African countries.

HOW IS AFRICAN WAX PRINT FABRIC MADE? 

The basic steps of African wax print fabric production include:

1) Melted, molten wax is printed by machine onto both sides of the cloth

2) The cloth is put into an indigo dye bath (the dye repels the wax covered areas of the fabric)

3) A machine cracks the wax to create a marbling and bubbles effect

4) Printing machines add two or three colors to the design

5) The cloth is washed (boiled) to remove the wax, which is recycled and reused

6) Different finishes are applied to the cloth

The manufacturer may also add one of the colors by block printing part of the design onto the fabric by hand.

Each batch of the same fabric design can look slightly different due to the varying color tones and random marbling and bubbles effect.

WHAT CAN THE FABRIC BE USED FOR?

African print fabric has many uses. Firstly, it can be worn as it is by wrapping the fabric around your body like a towel. It can be used as an apron when cooking or cleaning, for carrying babies on the mothers back and of course for making  modern and traditional clothingaccessories , shoes etc. 

Visit www.shopafricausa.com and shop different kinds of African Fabrics.

 

Kitenge. 

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