After our blog post on the origins of Dutch Wax Prints, we received a lof of questions: which of our patterns are the best for these fabrics? Do they have to be prewashed before sewing? Where can you find high quality Dutch Wax Prints? Today we’re sharing tips and advice on how to get started with this fabric; it’s much easier that it looks 🙂
Even though they get less and less stiff as you wash them, Dutch Wax Prints are not drapey fabrics, and it’s better to stay away from gathers that could create too much volume. Instead of a gathered skirt, pick a pleated skirt like the Chardon, or paneled like the Fumeterre maxi skirt. For dresses, Dutch Wax Prints are ideal for structured patterns, such as the Belladone dress. But you don’t have to stick with skirts and dresses: if you’re feeling bold, why not go for a statement piece with a Luzerne trench coat? In this case, try to pick a fabric with a small scale pattern so that it’s not cut off by the princess lines of the jacket.
Once you have selected your sewing pattern, pay close attention to the pattern placement before you cut out your pieces! If your fabric has patterns such as circles or flowers, make sure to anticipate where these will end up on your bust, butt, or crotch area, or you might end up with a very… anatomical garment.
Precuts of Dutch Wax Prints will often come with one or several large rectangular labels, stuck directly on the fabric, which give information on its origins. If you cannot take them off easily, don’t panic! Wet each label liberally with cold water, and wait a few minutes before removing them carefully: the glue should dissolve in water. If this doesn’t work, it’s time to take out the iron: iron directly on the label using as much steam as possible, this should do the trick!
Dutch Wax Prints are 100% cotton fabrics, which means that they will shrink. If you don’t want to end up with a child-sized dress after the first wash, you need to prewash your fabric! Moreover, depending on how the fabric was printed, the colors have the potential to bleed a lot, so it’s a good idea to set the dye before you wash. To do so, simply soak your fabric overnight in a bucket of water with a few spoonfuls of white vinegar. Then put it in the wash at 40°C maximum, treating it as you plan to wash your finished garment.
This first wash will also remove some of the coating from the fabric, and make it less stiff. As you wash it, your garment will become more and more drapey and soft. When it comes to ironing, always iron your fabric from the wrong side or with a damp cloth in order to preserve the colors and avoid the wax sticking to your iron.
Now you just need to find your dream print. If you get the chance to do fabric shopping in France, check out the TOTO fabric stores in many major cities: they have a really great selection. Online, the main stop for all your Dutch Wax needs is Vlisco. You can buy fabric in 2, 4, or 6 yards precuts, and the quality is beautiful. Still need a little push? Check out this selection of prints that caught our eyes!
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Header Picture: Vlisco Lookbook
Camille, March 27 2018
That’s a great tip! Thanks Erica 🙂
Lesley, April 10 2018
I have just brought some African wax print from Cape Verde whilst there on holiday. Can’t wait to sew with it. I checked out the fabric first by using a little detergent on it to see if the colours bled. Then washed it can’t wait to make an a top and shorts for the summer
Erica, March 25 2018
If you don’t know where to begin with choosing a print, I would suggest mirroring what you already like. If you love florals, look for a floral wax print. If you love geometrical patterns, then find a geometric wax print. Or, for something totally different have a look for an object print, like with love hearts, table fans or even aeroplanes.
And, always compare colourways. Some of them have colours that are vibrant and bold, and others are more blended and a little more subtle.
Personally I love matching Wax Prints with big designs alongside smaller more detailed designs.