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Pattern Edit: Ankara Fabric

In support of Ankara Appreciation Week hosted on Instagram by Juliet and Lena we’re sharing our best patterns for Ankara fabric.

Ankara fabric is also referred to as African wax print, Holland wax, or Dutch wax – named for the countries that have perfected the technique over the years. These fabrics are bold, bright and feature attractive printed designs.

Designs are printed onto the cloth using wax before dye is applied. The wax-resist dyeing technique leaves a waxy finish to the fabric and gives an unrivalled vibrancy to the fabric.

It’s a fabric that’s deeply rooted in African culture but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this fabric if you’re from a different culture. Show appreciation for Ankara by buying from a Black owned business, learn more about the origins of the fabric and production processes, and acknowledge you’re using a traditional fabric when sharing or talking about your makes.

Ankara essentially sews just like a stiff cotton so lots of patterns work wonderfully in this fabric. And as it is stable to work with, it’s ideal for beginners! For large scale prints it can help to pick designs with minimal seamlines to avoid “chopping up” the print. Let’s take a look at some suggestions:

Pattern: Butterick 6873

This a gorgeous wrap dress with maxi skirt perfect for showing off a wax print design. There’s three styles of skirt to try with optional ruffled hems as well. Plus the sleeve options mean you can sew this pattern all year round. Created for our Women’s range, sizes start at 18W and go up to 32W.

Pattern: Simplicity 9330

A stunning jumpsuit from Mimi G Style for Simplicity that would have a slightly more structured finish in wax print. View B is a great mini dress option to get the most out of your pattern. Plus we have a Video Sewalong to guide you through the steps if you prefer video to written instructions.

Pattern: McCall’s 8260

With the lovely crisp way that Ankara creates folds you can choose a pattern to make the most of that quality. M8260 is a pleated front culotte style short with shaped yoke. There are length options to choose from so you can make a pair of wide leg trousers if you prefer!

Pattern: Butterick 6887 

Get the little ones involved by making a gorgeous ankara outfit for them to wear. The B6887 dress works well in ankara and you could even use your scraps to make a matching mini outfit from the same fabric. The ruffles on the sleeves of view A and at the hems of each dress will look great in the slightly stiffer cotton. It’s the perfect partner to our B6873 wrap dress for women!

Pattern: New Look 6545

Ankara is such a great fabric for jackets! I love the idea of a cool bomber jacket style with zip front and ribbed bands. New Look 6546 would be perfect as it’s designed for woven fabric that’s either stable or silky. Meaning after you’ve made a wax cotton version you could make a satin version next and get two totally different looks from the same pattern pack!

Pattern: Simplicity 9329

Last but not least you could try Mimi G’s beautiful dress with puff sleeve detail and deep v back. The bodice is actually a faux wrap and uses princess seams for shaping. It’s a dream Ankara pattern, as you can see with Mimi’s version! As always, Mimi includes video sewalong tutorials with her designs so you can see her make the dress as you sew your own.

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