Knowledge fosters confidence when sewing different fabrics. This will come in handy if your next sewing project is creating a spectacular Heritage Day outfit.
Cultures of South Africa
With eleven official languages and eight other recognised languages, South Africa’s culture is one of the most diverse in the world. The vibrancy of our “Rainbow Nation” is born from the mix of rich cultures of each group.
Nguni attire changes at different stages of the wearer’s life. Encompassing Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele, and Swazi subgroups, the common thread is colourful, geometric patterns and intricate beadwork. Additionally, the multicoloured hides of Nguni cattle can be fashioned into leather garments.
Tip: Use sewing equipment made especially for working with leather and avoid puncturing with pins.
Sotho dress is commonly linked with shweshwe – indigo printed cloth gifted to the Lesotho King Moshoeshoe I by French Missionaries in the 1840s. Over time the colours expanded and the connotations behind it changed. But fast forward to today, and this easy-to-sew fabric is more popular than ever!
Tip: Wash before starting and use new, sharp pins and needles.
Shangaan-Tsonga traditional skirts, tinguvu, are designed to emphasise the xibelani dance moves, which is why they are sometimes interchanged. Originally made from materials such as wool, grass, and even strings, modern versions are pleated to give the same effect. Just this year a fashionably authentic xibelani was included in fashion designer Rich Mnisi’s range – with a price tag of R59,999.00!
Tip: 100% polyester fabrics are ideal for pleating as they can be washed at a low temperature and maintain the pleats.
Venda fabric, called ‘wenda, can be described as the tartan of South Africa! But, although the pattern is similar, the hues are predictably bright and cheerful.
Tip: overlockers are perfect for more loosely woven fabrics.
Asian clothing, be it Indian, Cape Malay, or Chinese, is often made of drapey fabrics such as chiffon.
Tip: Place tissue paper under chiffon when cutting to avoid it slipping, and replace pins with weights.