It’s been awhile has it not? I made another skirt version of B5760. I have come to some serious acceptances…. Pencil skirts and A-line skirts look best on me. So I’m not doing the full skirt trend. I just don’t want to look big as a house. B5760 is my TNT pencil skirt pattern. I have made this pattern so much that I can get it up and running in an hour from start to finish with completely satisfying and predictable results. So I’m not going to review this skirt I’m showing you. But it does bring out questions…..

An African patient came into the office and she had on an “African print” garment that I admired. I will freely admit that I don’t know what to call them. Everyone seems to call them “African Print” so I will too. I admired it because it was beautiful. The next time she came in the office, she gave me an entire outfit; top, shirt to wrap and head wrap. I adore it. Here is the print.

I don’t really have an occasion where “African Print” is the required dress code. When I used to go to church and we would rock these prints on a Sunday in February. But I don’t do church anymore. I suppose I could wear it to a parliament but I don’t like to get that dressed up for them. I tend to wear this outfit for a special occasion (a wedding, presentation, for when I don’t know what to wear but feel like I need to dress up) and sometimes to work.

Another African patient saw me in my AP outfit and she got mad at me. Her exact words were, “I want to fight you. You don’t wear that to work. You wear it to a party or special event!” Well I didn’t know that. And now that I know that, I realize it doesn’t make much difference. I would not wear it to a party because at parties I dance. I’d be worried that the safety pin that was holding the skirt together would fail at the most inopportune time. I’m no longer a Christian so church is out (I see Ghanaian people wearing this type of print to a church in my neighborhood). I suppose I should throw it out?

No I’m not.

I was in African store that sells fabric. I found the fabric that I made this B5760 skirt from on sale. I have wanted to make the skirt I made, and out of this particular print. I have been waiting for it to go on sale. The African woman who was ringing me up asked me if I was from an African country. I said no (just because I’m Black doesn’t make me African). She asked me what I was going to do with the fabric. I said make a skirt. She asked where I was going to wear said skirt. That’s where it stopped for me. I asked her if she was willing to sell me the fabric. She did. We were done.

Here is my question…. Am I appropriating another’s culture by wearing their fabric? I LOOOOOOOVE saris and would love to wear one as Indian women do. But I don’t because I’m not Indian. I see how that is disrespectful. BUT... I would wear a garment made out of sari fabric without thinking about whether it was appropriate or not. I would never wear a Native American headdress, but I would wear their jewelry. I might have worn a burqua before. It wasn’t because I was trying to be modest but because I was trying to prove a point to someone. I like to think I’m culturally sensitive.

My see is it’s about the garment and not the fabric. Fabric is objective where the display is subjective.

How do y’all see that?


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Comment by Alethia on November 6, 2013 at 1:26am

Great question Serenity. I really never saw purchasing or wearing "African print" fabric as being disrespectful.

I see it only as the fabric ( most not authentic) as fabric only, and it's available for  me to do with what I want. I've never encountered that. As I've said, most "African prints" are NOT authentic. They are replicas or facsimiles of the actual wax cloth, mud cloth, or kente cloth, etc. 

At my former job, I had a co-worker that gave me a beautiful piece of fabric from her country, Vietnam. But, she didn't tell me how to make it or wear it. I guess it depends on how sensitive an individual is about their culture and country, will they go to extremes about their traditions, be it clothes, foods, actions, etc.

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