What is wax print fabric?

I use a lot of wax print fabric in my designs for a few reasons.

1. I love the bright vivid colors and patterns.
2. The fabric has a great feel to it, is washable and usually doesn’t require lining.
3. I have a good friend who travels to Africa often and brings me back amazing pieces she finds. Yes, I am lucky (and so are you!).

Given my heavy use of wax print fabric, the term gets thrown around a lot, and I figured it was time to some explaining.

So. What exactly is wax print fabric?

Wax print fabric is characterized by bright, colorful prints and designs that look exactly the same on both sides. It is mostĀ associated with Africa, particularly West Africa, as it is the most common fabric used there. The technique for creating wax print fabric designs originated over 1,000 years ago in Java, Indonesia, and they refer to it as “batik”. However, the Dutch are responsible for bringing the look of “batik” or “wax print” to the masses, as they were the first ones who attempted to imitate the Javanese batik fabric design using machinery. The quality of the mass produced fabric at the time was said to be sub-par and cheap.

How is wax print fabric made?

The traditional Indonesian Javanese batik method involvesĀ applications of wax to create patterns in dyed cloth. This method yields beautiful works of art, but is time intensive and can be costly. Check out a video of how to make batik prints here:

Most wax print fabrics you find available for sale are not made the traditional way, but rather for a mass audience. A variety of manufacturing methods are employed, which greatly affects their quality, however many companies still manufacture and dye the fabrics themselves.

What makes wax print fabrics unique?

Majority of wax print fabrics and designs are limited in production. Each piece is marked with producer, product name and registration number of the design are printed on the selvage.

What should I look for when buying wax print fabrics?

Make sure it is 100% cotton and try to find smaller batch operations that produce the fabric close to where they sell it.

A short overview, but hopefully helpful none-the-less!

In the thick of it

The pattern on this fabric always reminds me of walking through the forest after a snowstorm. The stark contrast of the dark trees as ink blots against the white earth is somehow calming and jarring at the same time. Simple yet complex.

Soft vintage canvas fabric lined with vintage striped canvas. Exposed brass zipper. Use it full length for transporting brushes, curling irons and hairspray or as a laundry bag for undies while traveling. OR use it folded over to hold your money and phone on a night out. $28.

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Bow ties for the boys

In addition to clutches, I’ve been making a ton of one-of-a kind bow ties. You boys better start brushing up on your bow tie tying skills! Check out a great tutorial on how to tie a bow tieĀ here.

African wax print fabric adjustable bow tie. $26.

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And gals, you can coordinate…

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African wax print clutch. $24-28.