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African print wax fabric detail

What can Ankara fabric be used for?

Nothing says stylish and bold quite like Ankara fabric. This 100% cotton fabric (not the capital of Turkey) can be used for almost any type of project. While the fabric itself is relatively hardwearing, you need to take care of the print to avoid it fading and losing its vibrant colour. 

In this article we'll share with you some suitable projects for Ankara, as well as show you how to take care of your vivid, colourful fabric. 

But first. 

What is Ankara fabric?

Ankara fabric, also known as African print, Ankara wax print, Holland wax and Dutch wax is a 100% cotton fabric renowned for its vibrant patterns. Typically a colourful cloth that is made into clothing, it's instantly recognisable because of its patterns and bold motifs. 

A versatile fabric, Ankara makes a statement. Ankara print fabrics are made using a technique called Batik - an Indonesian wax-resistant dying method. In this technique, sections of cloth are prevented from being dyed using a ‘wax resist’ process, resulting in the unique patterns. 

Ankara - The African Story

Interestingly, while it's seen as a quintessentially West African cloth, largely associated with African culture, Ankara fabric actually started life intended to be a mass produced fabric for the Indonesian market.

While it wasn’t a huge hit there, Ankara fabric found a much more enthusiastic market in West Africa, quickly being subsumed into the culture and recognised as such around the world. 

Ankara is traditionally considered a formal fabric and is therefore usually reserved solely for special occasions. However, with the vast African diaspora spread around the world, many people like to wear it on a daily basis to help connect them with their roots. 

Suitable projects for Ankara

Ankara fabrics are best known for being turned into eye-catching dresses, shirts, and head scarfs. But with a little creativity, you can turn your Ankara fabric into whatever apparel you’d like. 

You can do so much with this stylish African cloth and a sewing machine. All it takes is some imagination. And even better, Ankara combines beautifully with modern pieces to create a sassy, stylish look that pays tribute to your heritage while having fun as you dress! 

And as we said before, African fashion doesn’t have to be just for formal occasions, it works wonderfully in tandem with Western styles, transforming mundane apparel and imbuing it with personality.

Ankara clothing

Transform Ankara fabric into an eye-catching skirt, dress or a pair of trousers for a look that is both smart and vibrant. Dressed up or down, Ankara is perfect for the office or for a night out. Keep it casual with leggings or pair it with a blazer for a more professional impression. 

African print bomber jacket formal outfit 

Suitable for summer and winter (and everything in between), Ankara provides the perfect pop of colour, at just the right volume. Want to take it up a gear? Create an entire outfit of Ankara and go loud and proud. 

Ankara accessories

Normally your accessories style your outfit, not the other way around. But when you choose to make accessories out of Ankara, they will steal the show. Incorporate Ankara into a clutch, or weave it into a pair of high heels and create a big impact from a small accessory. 

African print scarf with leather jacket outfit

While Ankara fabric is typically the preserve of head wraps, this incredibly versatile material can serve almost any fashion purpose. Turn it into earrings, a necklace, or a bracelet. Transform an understated suit with an eye catching pair of Ankara high heels. Slip your Ankara fabric bag over your shoulder and rock that African style. Make it into a belt, a scarf, even a bowtie. 

That’s right. 

Ankara isn’t just for women. For men wanting to proudly showcase their culture, jazz up your suit with an Ankara pattern belt, or pull on a bold shirt for a night out on the town. 

Ankara soft furnishings

Ankara fabric is perfect for upholstery and soft furnishing projects too. Use Ankara fabric to create a vibrant and eclectic look around your home. 

Let Ankara fabric inspire you with its bold print, bright colours and tribal patterns. Throw a few Ankara fabric scatter cushions on the sofa or the bed. Reupholster a chair with bright fabric and let the exuberant pattern instantly cheer up even the most drab of winter days. 

Taking care of Ankara fabric

If you can, dry clean your Ankara fabric. Dry cleaners use cleaning solvents that launder the fabric without spoiling it, or causing it to fade. If you don’t have access to a dry cleaners, hand wash this delicate fabric because machine washing makes the colour fade faster. Maintain the vividness of your colourful Ankara fabric with this simple care guide. 

How to hand-wash Ankara fabric

  • Use only mild soaps, avoid bleach or detergents. 
  • Separate your fabrics before you begin to protect them from the Ankara colours - the fabric is likely to bleed. 
  • Use cold water to both wash and rinse the material. 
  • Add a tablespoon of salt to the water to seal the colour and prevent them running. 
  • Gently wash the fabric to avoid damaging the stitches. 
  • Don’t wring the cloth as this can cause it to stretch. Instead, roll the fabric in a towel and gently squeeze the water out. 
  • Hang it on a clothesline to dry or flat on a clothes rack.
  • Avoid drying the material in direct sunlight as this will cause the fabric to fade, fast. 
  • Turn the clothing inside out before ironing it.
  • Iron the fabric on a moderate heat - if you have a cotton setting, use this.

Buy Ankara Fabrics at nkịtị

Shop traditional African clothing for everyday use at nkịtị. We’ve made it our mission to make Ankara fabric clothing an everyday thing - to make Ankara designs accessible to all. So go on, wear the African clothing designs we’ve created and celebrate African culture, daily.

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