Hana Dress in Ankara Fabric

Last year, I had been keenly following Ankara Appreciation Week on Instagram which was hosted by Lena King @thatlenaking and Juliet Uzor @julietuzor_  so, when it came around again I was keen to sew something in this beautiful fabric.

Close up of my Ankara Fabric

Briefly, Ankara Fabric is a wax print cotton fabric which is deeply cultural to Africa. It is called by different names depending on where it comes from so Ankara mainly refers to the wax fabric from West Africa. The prints and the patterns themselves can have symbolic meanings. I bought my fabric from Mapalo Store and when I asked to buy some Ankara fabric I discovered a fellow sewing enthusiast! Her family owns the store and she was so kind in telling me about the fabric. We eventually ended up on her Pinterest looking at some ideas on what I could do with the fabric I had chosen. The main point that stuck in my mind was that with Ankara Fabric, it’s the pattern which determines what you sew up. Pattern matching is crucial to making the most of the fabric. Sewing is such a universal language! I was so touched that she took the time to give me some tips on how to sew up the fabric and now that I have a little experience, I’ll definitely be going back for more fabric to sew up.

Keeping those handy tips in mind, I ended up choosing the Hana Tank Dress by Pattern Scout. The Hana Dress has simple lines so I felt it would let the fabric “shine”. It’s also a dress that I loved wearing in summer and was one that I wanted to sew a few more of for the coming summer. I sewed the size 12 and the only modification I made was to lengthen the dress.

The Ankara Fabric I chose had these cascading repeating blue eyelet pattern on a red background. The blue eyelets actually remind me of peacock feathers. Cutting the fabric was a challenge as I initially thought the pattern was mirrored exactly symmetrically but it wasn’t. Once I realised this, I found a central point of the fabric to coincide with the waist and centre front of the dress. I also made sure the length accommodated to the cascading “feathers” to end with a band of red background around the base of the dress.

Choosing the centre point

The Ankara cloth is such a great fabric to sew. It behaves very well so it’s an easy fabric to sew. It is light but still has structure to it. It’s a very bright fabric so it surprised me when I found it hard to tell the right side from wrong side! Have a look at all the great makes on Instagram under the hashtag #sewankarafabric21

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

Reflecting on the Me Made May 2021 Sewing Challenge

So, whether you’re new to the sewing scene or someone who has been part of the sewing community for a while, you’ve probably come across a sewing challenge at some stage. I think “Me Made May”, which was the brainchild of Zoe Edwards, must be one of the longest running as it’s been going for about eight years. It was so interesting to read her blog on how and why she started Me Made May. 

So, the challenge runs for the month of May. To participate, you can make a pledge or statement as to what you are getting out of the challenge. Usually, there is a pledge to wear something you made for each day of May, which was part of my pledge. I also included that I wanted to repair and maintain items as I went along. Part of the beauty of this challenge and what makes it so useful is that you can set your challenge the way it works for you. 

The second part is documenting the challenge. Initially, I was a bit hesitant to get in front of the camera daily. There is no rule saying you have to do this as it’s left up to each individual what they want to do. After getting over the initial camera shyness, I did find myself wanting to document my outfits as I wore them as it was motivating and a useful reference.

I wasn’t sure if I would have enough to wear as the weather starts to fluctuate at this time of year. Well, this is where the surprise came as I discovered that I could comfortably wear, with a few repeats, items that I’ve made. Usually when I sew something, I wear it on repeat until my next project. Documenting it daily really motivated me to reach back for items that I hadn’t worn in a while. It also motivated me to correct a few mistakes that I had put off to “one day” fix but never did which inadvertently prevented me from wearing the item more often. This process has also made me realise what lovely investments these patterns are and made me want to go back and resew patterns and experiment with different fabrics. 

I have also realised where the gaps in my closet are. This mainly came about when we had the sudden cold snap at the last week of May which often happens here in Perth, Australia. Even when the rains kick in here, we often have quite tolerably warm temperatures until BANG! It’s freezing and down to single digits (Celsius). Due to this cold snap, my Me Made May journey was a bit patchy towards the final week but I was quite happy with what what I had gained from participating in the challenge. Looking back at my Instagram Highlights, I count about 20 days where I’ve managed to wear something “me made”.

Another bonus of the challenge was realising that all my sewn clothing has been standing up well to the rigours of daily wear and washing! I was kindly guided by a sewing friend to invest in an overlocker. I was lucky enough to find an old sturdy (and very heavy) four thread Bernina Overlocker second hand. It’s a beautiful machine and I’m so grateful that I’ve had such good advice on my sewing journey. Once you invest time and effort in a garment it’s very hard to part with it and it’s so important to be able to maintain it.

You can tell that Me Made May is a really cherished sewing challenge in the community. Participation is high even though there is no “prize” to win. There was some cheerful grumbling about getting front of the camera daily but all followed with lovely smiles and fun poses! It’s lovely to connect with new sewing friends and to see how everyone was meeting their pledges. Here are some sample “Me Made May” outfits of mine that received a lot of love! Thank you so much if you’ve been following along.