RTW challenge- Ankara inspiration

I spent ages worrying about this challenge because I don’t follow fashion. I tend to follow my own path regarding what I like wearing therefore I didn’t know what I should use as inspiration. I’d read a few of my sisters fashion magazines but they tend to just make me chuckle rather than inspire me.

Luckily Pinterest helped me out. Pinterest is a naughty beast because not only does it let you pin ideas – it also fuels your obsession by sending you ideas of more pins you might like. Given the amount of time I’m sat on the sofa breastfeeding at the moment my Pinterest board is groaning with the weight of unrealistic pins I’ve got.

The one board that I love is my African fabric board.

I’m lucky enough to work somewhere that requires regular travel to Africa and I try to buy fabric every time I go. I have a relatively healthy stash of African fabric – so you’d think I didn’t even have to buy any fabric for this challenge

Except as it turns out I’m a curator of African fabric rather than a user of fabric. I just couldn’t bring myself to cut into any of my existing fabric.

Because I have to go so far to buy it (and because I’m on mat leave and not travelling currently) I’m very very cautious of using it unless I’m 100% sure I want to cut it. Also I’ve got all my fabric from East Africa which is a much looser weave than the wax cottons from West Africa so you have to treat it carefully.

Thankfully I found this fun African inspired stretch fabric in the bargain bin at the Stitching and Knitting show in Edinburgh for a frankly bargainous £4 a metre.

So the RTW outfits I’m inspired by were these ones:



The patterns I used were:
Ultimate Trousers by Sew Over It
Colette Sorbetto top
Simply Sews Jackie O’ jacket

Ultimate Trousers
This is the second ever trouser pattern I’ve used and I haven’t moved on since because I think they really are perfect for me.


I cut a 14 but because of the stretch I’ve had to slim it down somewhat. I also reduced the crotch depth somewhat. The final trouser fits me fine for the first 30 mins after washing and ironing at which point the stretch makes them a bit baggy. Because I’m a little self conscious at the moment I don’t mind them being a bit loose.

Jackie O jacket by Simply Sews
I’ve also made a few versions of this jacket before. In fact I’ve got a jacket made from Ugandan kitenge fabric that was apparently the talk of a work conference I went to in Amsterdam last year – apparently I was the girl with the African jacket. Catchy name eh?

The pattern only uses facings but I prefer to line the whole jacket and just use the facings to stabilise the jacket otherwise they tend to flap which annoys me.

I cut another size 14 which is perhaps a little big across the chest (an absolute first for me!) but I’m probably nit picking.

Halfway thru I regretted my choice – I think the jacket looks far better inside out in white with just fabric accents. Unfortunately I used polyester lining so it’s not rigid enough to be the outer of a jacket so I had to keep to my original plan of it being on the inside.

Colette Sorbetto Top
I’m the last person in the universe to use this pattern. I made a couple of adaptions to this. Firstly I made it double layered because the fabric is quite sheer. Secondly I didn’t finish the bottom sem with the pleat. I left it loose to give me better access for breastfeeding. I toyed with making slits in the under layer to allow for discrete breastfeeding but I didn’t think it would lie nicely in this sheer drapey fabric. I think it would be good as a breastfeeding hack in another fabric though.

Comments on the final outfit
So my conclusion on the final outfit:

Jacket + top = lovely

Top + trousers = lovely

Jacket + top + trousers = I look like I’m wearing pajamas.


I notice in all the Ankara pics on my Pinterest board the ladies look rather fierce with lots of accessories and styling. Perhaps if I want to get away with wearing all of this as an outfit I need more attitude to carry it off.
Perhaps I should practice my Beyonce “fierce” look without peeing myself laughing

Baaaaa haaaaaa haaaaaa!

Don’t worry Beyonce I think your job is safe from me.

22 thoughts on “RTW challenge- Ankara inspiration

  1. Pingback: And the RTW Copycat contest winners are…. | The Monthly Stitch

  2. I love this, it’s a great print and I love the bright background. I love everything I’ve ever seen made in african wax prints but somehow can never visualise them made into something when I see the fabrics. So well done you for having more imagination than me!

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  3. Great Outfit and perfectly in fashion, because it suits you so well! Looking at your body language, you’re delighted with your adaptations, and you’ve given me good ideas for my next Sorbetto, though not for the same reasons. Lol! I’ve been gifted with some lovely Shweshwe, and am waiting for exactly the right idea, and cooler weather, before cutting into it. Is most African fabric narrower than we’re used? After washing, mine is 32″.
    Thanks for including your blog ~ will check it out!

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    • My main experience is east African fabric and yes it is very narrow. Kanga fabric comes in panels and kitenge comes in very narrow bolts. It means careful pattern placing but there are some fabulous examples on the Web of what you can make with it.

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      • Spent time looking through your blog, and was very impressed with your sewing skills, and use of African fabrics. Thanks for the info on east African yardage! Wish we had sales people over here who would approach us on the beaches, or after recognizing a print during a business meeting. Organic cottons & sustainability~YES! Should be ways for small cotton growers & weavers to sell directly to sewers via internet. Many U.S. sewers would love to know they’d helped in such a way. Have a think on it. 😉

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  4. I liked the african print side of the jacket more with this outfit. Looks gorgeous, and wished you had a blog so i could have checked other things you made.

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  5. Awesome! Love it all, even the whole suit – which I don’t think looks like jammies at all. But if it makes you fell a bit self conscious, I’d suggest using the set as separates. The jacket would look great with jeans, or with a skirt in a matching solid, for example. Many possibilities here.

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