You know what ShweShwe is? It is a South African fabric made from the Zwelitsha plant. The ethnic-print "indigo cloth" synonymous with traditional black South African dress - has slaves, German settlers, Basotho King Moshoeshoe and the catwalks of New York woven into its story.
(http://shewearsshweshwe.typepad.com is a blog that dedicates all kinds of postings to shweshwe, check it out!)
With its intricate indigo, white, chocolate or red African prints I find it is a beautiful fabric and I am planning to use it as soon as I start with my FDD line of children's clothing. I am working and researching to find some fabrics to add to the stack I already have gathered over the last few years from all over the world. Mostly it is retro vintage fabrics, but now I discovered the African fabrics and I like to add them. Will be a nice and eclectic mix!
It has been said that shweshwe derived its isiXhosa name from the swishing sound it makes when the wearer walks. Shweshwe is typically stiff when new. This is because starch was historically used to preserve the fabric on long sea voyages from the UK to South Africa. After washing, the stiffness disappears, leaving a soft cotton feel. Today the printing process is still done by feeding fabric through copper rollers, etched with intricate patterns.
Xhosa women, image from here
DaGama is the only known producer of the traditional indigo dyed discharge printed fabric in the world called shweshwe. To identify real shweshwe, look for a backstamp on the fabric of the Three Cats, Three Leopards or Toto 6 Star brands.
Now they incorporate shweshwe fabric in all kinds of unique, groovy, sassy, swanky, hip, bright, bold & funky stuff that gives you the wiggles & giggles! Here some examples I found on the net that uses shweshwe fabric. They make even shoes from it!
Check out www.bokkieshoes.co.za for these funky shoes and boots ;-)
Have a wonderful day!