Friday, April 07, 2006

Fabric is an addictive substance here in Ouaga. I have seen a number women become “fabric junkies” here - each with a closet at the back of the house stuffed brimful with lengths of the evidence of their guilt.
It’s true that the fabrics here are very beautiful and relatively inexpensive. Glossy bazin for elegant boubous, linen for smart shirts, bright pagnes for wrap around skirts…
My current addiction is the batik cotton from Ghana. There are several women’s’ cooperatives doing this work there now and the Burkinabe have lost no time importing it.
I bought some last week and went back for more today with Mary Lynn. She loved it and bought two different patterns.
I have bought quite a bit, as I am starting a small business making girls’ dresses. There is a young woman we have known since she was 12. We paid for her school and she has become a seamstress now at age 18. Aisha doesn’t earn much in the workshop where she is employed, so I am going to get her started sewing dresses aimed at the upper-scale clientele here in Ouaga. I think these batiks will really appeal to the cooler Europeans and Americans. Not so much the Burkinabe. They vastly prefer the “made in Europe” label and tend not to like the African styles.
At least with Aisha, I know it will be easy to have the work done well. It is often a big hassle to get things sewn here. And it’s the only reasonable way to get new clothes, as there are few shops and the prices are very high. Custom-tailored clothes may sound great, but after you’ve been back for the fourth fitting and it STILL isn’t right, it can get a little frustrating. Or they’ve sewn it with the butterfly pattern all upside down. Or they fully lined the nice breezy gauze tunic you wanted them to make, turning into an object of suffocating heat-retention and defeating the whole purpose..
Mary-Lynn is having some things sewn by a another local seamstress. I am hoping that it goes smoothly, as she goes back to the US on Tuesday. Not much leeway for misunderstandings. But as they are simple shift dresses, not too much can go wrong.
We hope.

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