Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Another Splurge (and why I don’t feel bad about it)

After reminding myself just recently about my decision not to spend compulsively (or impulsively), I splurged anyway. Of course I didn’t intend to spend money. It all started as a research project. I enjoyed working with my African print fabrics on the border print dress and the girafftan so much that I wanted to find out more about these amazing prints.
The first African print fabric I used, back in September of last year.

It turns out that there are thousands of these beautiful wax-print cottons, as well as many other types of exciting textiles, made by people in several African countries. All of them are just amazing and covetable.

You will not be surprised to hear that most of the Google results for “African fabrics” were not encyclopedic explanations of the history and technique, but rather for sellers of these beautiful textiles, and that was my downfall. I had to look!

Most of the suppliers’ prices are prohibitively expensive (for me), with retail costs starting at $12 and going up above $100 per yard. The New York importers are apparently not interested in passing any bulk savings on to people like me. Etsy and eBay prices are a bit lower, in the range of $7 to $8 for some fabric types. By the time I’d visited all these sites and seen thousands of fantastically colorful patterns, I was truly hooked, but convinced it was all out my range.

So when I found myself at the website of Middlesex Textiles UK, I was way too excited. Not only do they have the largest selection of any of the online stores, but their prices, thankfully, were within my reach. They have many, many colors and designs of wax print cottons for approximately $4 per yard.

What’s the hitch? One is that the fabrics come in lengths of 5 or 6 yards. I don’t need 6 yards of anything, but that didn’t stop me from buying quite a few different fabrics.

The other minor hurdle is a flat rate shipping charge to the US of $25, which is exorbitant if you’re purchasing one item, but quite reasonable if it’s spread out over several. It’s safe to say I’m in the latter category.

Here are some of the fabrics I bought:

They were delivered in 3 business days!

More fabrics:
All are 45 to 48 inches wide.

These are still shiny and stiff with whatever finishes they used. Contrary to my usual approach of washing everything as soon as it comes through the door, I will leave these unwashed and packaged, as they are so neatly folded and take up little space. Since they have all their wrappers and labels still on, I won’t forget to wash them before sewing.

I don’t feel any remorse for this rather extravagant purchase! My local fabric warehouse occasionally carries an African wax print or two, but they are few and far between. The fabrics from Middlesex are a long-term investment, since I won’t be able to use them all up in the near future, but I think I got some very unusual items for a very good price.



  1. I can see why you're excited. I love those African prints.
    And I'd look on it as a bargain since you combined the postage. Money saving!

    That's a new company to me. Thanks for the link.

  2. These are so gorgeous, Katrina -- I day money spent on beauty like this is well-spent! A long skirt from the top fabric would be so great, and a jacket from the second . . .

  3. @ snippa - a bargain - my thoughts exactly!
    @ Patti - yes, I love the idea of a skirt with that border print.

  4. I love African prints so much! I haven't purchased any because the ones I find are sososo expensive; thanks to you that is no longer a problem! I am now your partner in the splurge. I'll be sure to share what I indulge in.
    Thanks bunches!
    xo, Anita

  5. @ Anita - hooray for splurges! I look forward to seeing what treasures you find!

  6. We have a great selection of African Fabrics. Please come take a look!