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African Fabrics by the metre

African fabrics by the metre, half metre and fat quarter

Our variety and selection of African fabrics is constantly changing. We're always on the lookout for something new, different and exciting.

What we have in stock and what  you'll find here on the website depends on where we've been on our recent travels, the markets we've discovered and the makers and traders that we've met along the way.

All of our African fabrics have been produced in Africa: either by artisan  weavers, dyers and makers or - in the case of African wax print and Shwe Shwe - in African factories.

Our minimum order is a Fat Quarter.

Or you can buy a half metre, a metre or more, depending on stock available.

The unit for ordering fabrics is a Fat Quarter. What's a Fat Quarter?

What's a Fat Quarter?

A Fat Quarter is a term of measurement
The term Fat Quarter - abbreviated as FQ, is commonly used in patchwork and quilting.

A FQ is a ½ metre of fabric, cut in half across the width. By cutting across the width (as opposed to the length), the result is a squarish piece of fabric about 50 x 55 cm, depending on the width of the fabric.

How to order
Enter the number of Fat Quarters you would like into the quantity box. The website will automatically show the equivalent in metres. Your fabric will be sent as a single piece.

  • For 1 fat quarter, enter 1
  • for ½ metre, enter 2
  • for ¾  metre, enter 3
  • for 1 metre, enter 4
  • for 1½ metres, enter 6
  • for 2 metres, enter 8
  • and so on...

Important: About Metric Measurement
All fabrics on The African Fabric Shop website are measured using the Metric system - metres and centimetres. All pre-cut pieces (Fat Quarters, Half Metres and Adventure Packs) are cut to metric measurements.

For customers who think in yards instead of metres: A metre is slightly longer than a yard - about 39 inches. If you require dressmaking lengths in yards and are not sure about the metric equivalent, there are numerous conversion sites on the Internet. Alternatively, email us with your requirement in yards and we will convert it to the nearest metric equivalent.

Fat Quarter diagram
Exact dimensions of a Fat Quarter depend on the width of the fabric

Magie Relph OuagadougouMagie Relph's textile adventures: sourcing Mauritanian malafa cloth at SIAO in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

Hand-dyed African Batiks photo

Hand-dyed African Batiks

Most of our hand-dyed  batiks come from Ghana and The Gambia. Over the years we've developed wonderful friendships with many talented local dyers and batik artists.

We try to identify each fabric with the maker's name and many of our customers come back looking for fabrics by specific dyers.

All fabrics are 100% cotton. Some are a subtly woven damask; others are plain-weave cotton.

View Hand-dyed African Batiks

Handpainted African Batiks photo

Handpainted African Batiks

Our handpainted batiks are all made by Neneh Jallow, one of the most talented and creative batik artists in The Gambia.

Neneh paints each piece with up to five layers of wax, one for each subtle variation in colour, before dyeing and over dyeing in a progression of dye vats.

All fabrics are 100% cotton in a subtle Damask weave. 

Fabrics are 120 cm / 48 in wide, approximately.

View Handpainted African Batiks

African Wax Prints photo

African Wax Prints

When most people think of African fabrics, the first thing that comes to mind is these traditional African wax prints.

Most of our African wax prints are made in Ghana: either by Ghana Textile Producers - GTP, or by Akosombo Textiles Limited - ATL.

All  fabrics are 100% cotton.

View African Wax Prints

African Prints photo

African Prints

The African fabric market is constantly evolving. Many vibrant new Africa inspired designs are appearing in the Da Viva and Woodin ranges of African prints. Less expensive than traditional African wax print fabrics, these high quality screen prints are making a real splash in African fashion.

Our African prints are all made in Ghana: the Da Viva range by Akosombo Textiles Limited - ATL - and the Woodin range by Ghana Textile Producers - GTP.

All  fabrics are 100% cotton.

View African Prints

Amafu South African Hand-dyes photo

Amafu South African Hand-dyes

These fantastic, colourful fabrics are hand-dyed and hand-screened by Hanlie Burger and her team in the sunny climate of Durban.

We're sure you'll agree that Hanlie's colours and designs are truly inspiring.

All fabrics are 100% South African export quality cotton.

View Amafu South African Hand-dyes

Langa Lapu South African Sun Prints photo

Langa Lapu South African Sun Prints

Designer Pru Bolus and her team combine leaves, ferns and seed pods from indigenous South African plants with eco-friendly dyes, expose the fabrics to the sun and presto: Langa Lapu fabrics!

Every single piece of Langa Lapu fabric is a unique, one-off creation, which is what makes these fabrics so very special.

All fabrics are 100% South African export quality cotton.

View Langa Lapu South African Sun Prints

Shwe Shwe Indigos photo

Shwe Shwe Indigos

The African Fabric Shop is the biggest importer - with the biggest choice - of Shwe Shwe fabric in the UK and Europe.

These fabrics are sometimes called 'Three Cats' - a reference to the distinctive logo stamped on the back of the fabric.

Originally, Shwe Shwe was produced in Manchester for export to South Africa. Today, it's made in South Africa by Da Gama Textiles.

All fabrics are 100% cotton.

View Shwe Shwe Indigos

Shwe Shwe Colours photo

Shwe Shwe Colours

Perfect for patchwork!

These great new colourways add a whole new spectrum of possibilities to traditional Shwe Shwe fabrics from South Africa.

Look for the genuine 'Three Cats' logo on the back - just like the original Shwe Shwe fabrics that were born in Manchester but are now 100% South African. The colour label for each fabric - i.e. purple, turquoise, etc. - refers to the base colour of the fabric before printing.

The African Fabric Shop is the biggest importer - with the biggest choice - of Shwe Shwe fabric in the UK and Europe.

View Shwe Shwe Colours

Coral Tree photo

Coral Tree

Perfect for patchwork!

These gorgeous chocolate brown versions of traditional Shwe Shwe designs are perfect for patchwork. Produced by Da Gama Textiles in South Africa.

View Coral Tree

Kudhinda Zimbabwe Screen Prints photo

Kudhinda Zimbabwe Screen Prints

Kudhinda fabrics are designed by Ros Byrne and handscreened by her expert team of printers in her Harare studio.

Kudhinda fabrics reflect the strength, colour and pattern of southern African design. Kudhinda is committed to fair trade principles. 

All fabrics are 100% sheeting weight cotton, slightly heavier than dressmaking weight.

View Kudhinda Zimbabwe Screen Prints

Kola & Indigo Hand-dyes photo

Kola & Indigo Hand-dyes

These traditional fabrics are all created by our friend Musa Jaiteh in his family compound in Sukuta.

Musa uses stitching, tieing and wax stamping to create a resist before hand-dyeing in kola nut and indigo.

All fabrics are 100% cotton, either damask or plain weave.

View Kola & Indigo Hand-dyes

Safari & Skin Prints photo

Safari & Skin Prints

These quality craft prints are great for projects with an African safari or wildlife theme. 

All fabrics are 100% cotton.

Because we don't buy these fabrics directly from African producers, we put a bit back into Africa by donating a portion of sales to a small African charity.

View Safari & Skin Prints

Fun Fur Fabrics photo

Fun Fur Fabrics

These fabrics are very life-like representaions of African animal skins with a fun fur feel.

Because these fabrics are 100% polyester, they're slightly stretchy.

Because we don't buy these fabrics directly from African producers, we put a bit back into Africa by donating a portion of sales to a small African charity.

View Fun Fur Fabrics

Handwoven Strip Cloth photo

Handwoven Strip Cloth

Weaving cotton into long, narrow strips up to 60 metres long is an important textile tradition found throughout West Africa. These strips are thicker than machine woven craft cotton.

In Africa, lengths of strip cloth are sewn together edge to edge to create either a whole cloth or a smock style garment.

We source our strip cloth in Ghana, Burkina Faso and The Gambia.

All strips are either 100% cotton or ultrasoft tree cotton - sometimes called 'silk cotton' - which feels similar to kapok. Undyed and unbleached, or indigo dyed.

View Handwoven Strip Cloth

Bark Cloth photo

Bark Cloth

Bark cloth - one of the first primitive fabrics made in tropical Africa - is still produced by the Baganda people near Lake Victoria.

You can use bark cloth as a creative medium in all sorts of textile art projects, exploiting a variety of techniques: embroidery, patchwork and quilting, embellishing, painting, printing, dyeing and stamping.

Why not see how creative you can be?

View Bark Cloth

 
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