My Order Menu The African Fabric Shop  African Wax Prints
+44 (0)1484 850629

Contact Us

African Wax Prints

Traditional and contemporary African designs

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

Traditional - because they've been sold in African markets since the industrial revolution and many of the original designs are still popular today.

Contemporary - because today's designers are creating new patterns to reflect modern tastes, as well as putting a contemporary spin on traditional designs.

All 100% cotton, most of these genuine wax prints are made in Ghana.

Fabrics are 115 cm / 45 in wide, approximately. Fat Quarters are 50 x 57 cm / 20 x 22 in, approximately.

Per Fat Quarter: £3.90     Per metre: £15.60

More: About African wax print

About African wax print

As we point out in our book African Wax Print: A Textile Journey -

'African wax print fabric is a defining methaphor of African design, fashion and expression; an immediately recognisable icon throughout the world'.

Quite simply, it just says, 'Africa.'

All over - but especially West and Central Africa - wax print fabric is worn by women, men and children of every social standing, from humble farmers to elite politicians. It is tailored into elaborate dresses and suits and also worn as a simple wrapper or pagne.

The designs range from distinctively African motifs rooted in history to wacky object-based prints such as shoes, fans, bicycles - almost anything.

Wax print dates from the industrial revolution, when English and Dutch textile barons developed a way to mechanise batik production. The fabric found a market in West Africa and by the 1960s Europe was exporting millions of yards of fabric per year.

In the early days, wax was used to create a resist before dyeing the fabrics in industrial quantities. Today, a resin has replaced the wax. Some designs also require overprinting, originally by hand using wooden printing blocks.

Today, most of the fabrics you might think are wax print are not: they are cheap Chinese copies of the real thing, screenprinted onto poor quality cotton.

We do not sell Chinese fabrics. All of our wax print is made in Ghana - either by GTP or ATL - which are owned by the European companies Vlisco and A Brunnschweiler, respectively.

How do you recognise a genuine African wax print?

Wax print is printed on both sides of the fabric, not one side like a screenprint.

Wax print has two distinct irregularities: a slight misalignment of colour and design, plus a distinctive crackle effect caused by tiny cracks in the resin resist. We call these irregularities 'the perfect imperfection'.

Using African wax print

Genuine African wax print is very robust and stands up to years of washing. It's great for colourful and distinctive clothing. Many creative and innovative textile artists are using wax print in their quilts and wallhangings.

The images shown here are from our book 'African Wax Print: A Textile Journey'.
African wax print modelModel shows off African wax print fabric. Image courtesy of A Brunnschweiler & Co.
 
Wearing African wax print fabric in AfricaIn Africa, African wax print fabric is everywhere. Image © Robert Irwin.
 
African wax print crackle effectThe characteristic 'crackle' of African wax print fabric.
 
Creation Myth by Margaret RamsayCreation Myth © Margaret Ramsay.
 

Also available

Our acclaimed book - African Wax Print: A Textile Journey

From the ABC wax print works in Manchester - Vintage Printing Blocks

"Fascinating... a major step forward in telling the tale of African wax prints." John Gillow - textiles collector and author of African Textiles: Colour and Creativity Across a Continent.

Wax Print Adventure Pack
image for Wax Print Adventure Pack
from £18.50AWX001
Wax Print Adventure Pack Indigo
image for Wax Print Adventure Pack Indigo
from £18.50AWX002
Wax Print Duotone Adventure Pack
image for Wax Print Duotone Adventure Pack
from £18.50AWD001
Mini New Fine Trail
image for Mini New Fine Trail
£3.90FWX256
Fan Light
image for Fan Light
£3.90FWX255
Braids
image for Braids
£3.90FWX252
Eiffel's Folly
image for Eiffel's Folly
£3.90FWX250
Turbans
image for Turbans
£3.90FWX249
Diamond Fall
image for Diamond Fall
£3.90FWX248
Babushka
image for Babushka
£3.90FWX247
Record Disk Gold
image for Record Disk Gold
£3.90FWX246
Squiggle
image for Squiggle
£3.90FWX244
Go with the Flow
image for Go with the Flow
£3.90FWX241
Honesty
image for Honesty
£3.90FWX233
Air Con
image for Air Con
£3.90FWX225
Double Diamond
image for Double Diamond
£3.90FWX204
Galleria Indigo
image for Galleria Indigo
£3.90FWW123
Garden Trail Indigo
image for Garden Trail Indigo
£3.90FWW122
Staircase Indigo
image for Staircase Indigo
£3.90FWW121
Macaroni Indigo
image for Macaroni Indigo
£3.90FWW120
Bonsu Indigo
image for Bonsu Indigo
£3.90FWW118
Ivy Indigo
image for Ivy Indigo
£3.90FWW117
Paisley Indigo
image for Paisley Indigo
£3.90FWW116
Oriental Leaf
image for Oriental Leaf
£3.90FWW115
Basket Weave Indigo
image for Basket Weave Indigo
£3.90FWW114
Ray Ray Indigo
image for Ray Ray Indigo
£3.90FWW110
Four Square Indigo
image for Four Square Indigo
£3.90FWW109
Makongo Indigo
image for Makongo Indigo
£3.90FWW107
Sugarcane Indigo
image for Sugarcane Indigo
£3.90FWW106
Papillon Indigo
image for Papillon Indigo
£3.90FWW105
Record Disc Indigo
image for Record Disc Indigo
£3.90FWW104
Snakeskin Indigo
image for Snakeskin Indigo
£3.90FWW103
Spyro Gyro
image for Spyro Gyro
£3.90FWD016
Shadow Garden
image for Shadow Garden
£3.90FWD023
Rosette
image for Rosette
£3.90FWD025
Impression
image for Impression
£3.90FWD029
Tofali
image for Tofali
£3.90FWD030
Maroc II
image for Maroc II
£3.90FWD031
 
The African Fabric Shop uses cookies. For more information see our privacy policy.