If you ever watched the old classic movie – The Sound of Music, you may remember when the free-spirited Maria made dresses, shirts, shorts – basically outing clothes for Captain Georg Von Trapp’s seven children from the curtains in her room. Well, thank God that never became a thing! I am not sure anyone will feel cool wearing drapes. Did you ever see the meme of a man whose clothes was the same fabric as the chairs at an event venue? Awkward?.
So much to choose from
But the other way round is actually a great idea – that is using clothing fabrics for curtains and other interior decoration items such as sofa covers, bean bags, puffs, framed hangings, beddings, pillow covers, bath curtains, puffs, coasters, bouquets, table clothe, dinner napkins, throw pillows etc. Specifically, I mean using African print a.k.a. Ankara, Kitenge, Dashiki, Tye Dye a.k.a Adire in Nigeria, Batik or Kente. It is completely doable and has been done for a long time now. I have tried it twice and was completely satisfied with the results. The two curtains which I made from Ankara and brocade have lasted for a combined period of six years. See one below.
Less is still more
First thing to note is that, most African design fabrics have bold patterns and colours and should be used sparingly or you might just end up with a generally congested design. You want it in just one or two unique rooms in your home or office – say for example a dining room, a home office, the office kitchenette or meeting room. And in those spaces, the fabric should not be used for every décor item. Again, one or two décor items is enough. African designs are robust and one item alone can make a sufficient design statement for your space.
Secondly, you should choose a rare design. Here, I mean you should be going for a design you have never seen anyone wearing as aso-ebi at a funeral, wedding or any other event. You really don’t want your guest twinning with your décor any day. The truth is that there is no way of being absolutely sure that no one has used your fabric choice for their personal clothing. But if you think about it, there are those beautiful designs people rarely pick for making personal clothes (fingers crossed). This point reminds me of when I first started day-dreaming of owning an interior design and décor company as a teenager as a follow up to studying Carpentry and Wood Work at FUT Minna (my mum would never have heard of that). Well, one of my light bulb ideas was making interior goods with the native fabrics of Nigeria – namely akwete, akwa-ocha, aso-oke, the Tiv and Fulani traditional fabrics etc. But thinking about it now, it feels somewhat of a misappropriation.
The next thing is to select the best quality of fabric. There is no room to just make do here. This is simply because interior décor items are fittings that are on daily duty. They are always in use except during cleaning, so you want to use the best quality of fabric. It is just like a human being wearing the same cloth every day. That cloth had to be of the strongest quality. If you have noticed, regular sofa or curtain fabrics are durable, and this should also be the case even if we are “adventuring” with African design fabrics.
On a related note, select an enduring design and not one you will be bored of after eight months of seeing it daily. In my experience, I have not been bored of my two curtain adventures with African prints. I would say that it is also an untaught decision – you just know a design you absolutely like.
Finally, do not forget to get a professional to execute your idea. Retain the best tailor or furniture maker to bring your dream to life. You could also buy ready-made items in various stores (ethnic design goods are quite popular these days But if you chose to DIY, make sure that you are painstaking during the production process. And do not settle till you have the best. You definitely deserve the oohs and the aahs of admiration from your guests for your ideas.