An African proverb says, “A person who doesn’t know, thinks a garden is a forest.”
When it comes to buying African cloth, most of us are clueless about what to look for in terms of quality. We eagerly acquire yards of the often pricey cloth, enjoying its pattern and the hues it comes in as we do so. It comes from Africa, which makes us happy, therefore we decide to get it. On the other hand, given that our weddings will be one of the most significant days of our life, we need to be more discerning and well-informed customers.
You do not need to utilize African cloth simply because the wedding is themed after Africa since it is not required. You choose the fabric based on the design of the clothing, the color of the fabric, how soft or stiff it feels, how much it costs, and how easily you can get your hands on it.
Here are some tips that might be helpful when selecting an African cloth for your project. According to Sylvia Small, who works at Ujamaa Fashions, an evident pattern may be “too crowded” for the bride and groom’s wedding attire. Sylvia was assisting an African brother with his wedding preparations when he advised her that even if the dress styles of the bride and groom may be different, the bride’s and groom’s fabric color and design should be coordinated. Take note that both dark blue and light blue are considered to be shades of blue.
I have been to weddings when the bride’s attendants and the groom’s party wore patterned clothing. The printouts were almost always an exact match. At one wedding, the bridesmaids and groomsmen were allowed to choose their own attire, which allowed everyone to continue wearing the outfits they had previously worn. Nothing went together, with the exception of the African pattern that everyone was wearing. The bridal party’s varied attire brought a sense of warmth and individuality to the otherwise impersonal event.
There is a method that the bride and groom may wear prints without drawing too much attention to themselves. Brocade. Heavy cotton is woven into a pattern to create brocade, which is known for its ornate appearance. It comes from places like Senegal, the Ivory Coast, and Guinea, amongst others. Flowers, adinkra symbols, and Islamic motifs like a star and crescent moon are often used to create intricately woven patterns.
One other stunning fabric from Africa is the ashoke or aso oke, which comes from Nigeria (see picture on right). It is a dense cotton mix that is available in two different shapes. It is embroidered with a variety of colorful threads, making it either satiny or glossy, and it contains eyelet holes. The old genuine font is more of a simple design, while the new form has a metallic sheen to it. This cloth comes at a high price.
It is recommended by Sylvia that you buy brocade that is coated with super wax. Rachel Ouapeu, the proprietor of Washington Importers Discount in Washington, District of Columbia, has the following to say about her business: “Check the selvage of the fabric for a pattern of at least seven stars printed on it. The finest brocade comes from England.” According to her, Switzerland is also known for producing high-quality brocade. Many textiles with African designs are actually produced in nations located in Europe.
The degree of quality of the brocade is indicated by the number of stars that are printed on the selvage. If a cloth has been waxed, you will be able to tell because it will have a shine on one side. The purpose of the wax is to shield the fabric’s color and pattern against deterioration. In addition to that, it provides the cloth to its body. Rachel notes that waxed fabrics from Holland, especially those with elaborate prints and java prints, are of a low quality.
It is usually printed on the selvage where the fabric was manufactured, but you can always ask the buyer at the shop you buy from. The edge of the cloth that was created during manufacturing is called the selvage. White coloration in the selvage indicates that the wax is of high grade.
The Garb (Clothes)
The clothes that guests wear to a wedding with an African theme are quite important. There is no canon when it comes to color, hence there are no restrictions on who may or cannot wear white. It is not required that the mothers of the engaged couples wear colors that are either the same or complementary to one another.
Select the color or colors, then embellish in accordance with your decision. Ethnic clothing may be obtained from businesses that specialize in the genre, or one may hire the skills of an experienced seamstress. According to Dawn Blackman, a specialist in textiles from Chicago, there are as many diverse civilizations as there are materials. “Some of them are illustrative, while others are symbolic.” Consider, for instance, the symbols of Adinkra. Blackman claims that she can get her hands on at least 65. The ideals of unity, power, and other spiritual precepts are represented by these symbols.
“Today’s brides and grooms will choose a number of different logos and have them cast in their wedding bands, dresses, invitations, or napkins,”
Kente cloth is without a doubt one of the most widespread and well-recognized African textiles. It is now considered an emblem of West African culture. There is significance in each individual weave and design. When deciding on a certain cloth, partners have to take this into consideration.
Choose a cleaning agency that specializes in the care and maintenance of African textiles when you need to get them cleaned. Do not automatically assume that your normal cleaners will be able to do the task.