My roots: Africa and America

I was super excited when the invite came from Heidi to participate in Roots: Sewing your heritage.  I just love it when art is meaningful.  Have you seen the other creations?  Just beautiful.

I am African-American.  Of African descent, yet born and raised in America.  Honestly, I still have questions about my roots, and almost allowed my lack of knowledge to keep me from participating.  One thing I am learning is that conditions don’t have to be perfect before I can put my “yes” on the table.  For now, I can celebrate what I do know: Those before me were born with purpose, and I am grateful for their strength and sacrifice.

*steps down from soap box*

I wanted to create an ensemble that reflects my appreciation for color found in African fashion and fit my 6 year old’s mature and hilarious personality.

When I think of modern African fashion, I think of bold and bright colors.  I think of energetic movement and strength.  The use of saturated solids, dazzling prints, geometric shapes and sophisticated silhouettes give a regal feel to garments and are breathtaking.  Muted palettes are also favored in African fashion.  There were several routes I could have taken when designing an outfit.  Color was my inspiration for Curly Cutie’s creation (say that 10 times – lol).  Feast your eyes on these beauties (pics will take you to source).

african vlisco2 African Vibrations

africa bk cross African Vibrations


See what I mean?  This was no easy task for a person with a go-to palette of black and white.  I appreciated the challenge though.  I feel a little more free now, like I could just about put anything together and say, “BAM, there it is!”

Here is my little one.


pics47 268

We thought it would be fun to add a baby wearing element to this ensemble.  I have a friend from Ghana that taught me how to tie a wrap so I could carry baby #2 when he was just a little something.  This wrap is just a yard of fabric.

African inspired girls' clothing


Pattern used for shirt is the Aspen Ruffle Dress by See Kate Sew.  As for modifications, I shortened it to make it shirt length.  I extended the height of the collar by an inch to make it more pronounced.  Decreased collar and elastic length.  I extended the sleeves to accommodate CC’s long arms.  Circle skirt is self-drafted with a contrasting waistband and back zipper.  I used a random pocket pattern to add pockets in side seams.  A pair of textured white tights and faux oxford shoes complete the look.  I know some of you are basking in warm sun, but it’s cold here.





Now, about this hair and these accessories.  I was totally in the moment with this hair.

I had the idea to pull CC’s hair up with a banana clip.  I remember these from my younger days. So fun.  The front part of her hair is simply left loose with a couple of hair pins to cinch some areas.

banana clip

*back up on soap box and clearing throat*

Can I just say that I love natural hair?  I’m talking just the way it grows from our scalp.  There was a time when I didn’t feel this way and would incessantly straighten my hair by chemical force (lol) because I thought it was ugly and hard to manage.  My eyes have been opened and I know these things are not true.

I do not believe there is anything wrong with chemically treated hair.  I just did not appreciate the beliefs that fueled my commitment to the practice.  It’s nice to have options: straight, curly, wavy, coily, etc.  The opportunity to teach my daughter to appreciate everything about the way God made her is truly priceless.

*steps down*

hair and earrings

The fabric flower and covered button earrings are both handmade.  I wanted to find another place to incorporate the bold yellow fabric from her skirt waistband, and I thought a pair of earrings would be the perfect place to do that.

As for the shoes, they started out plain white.  I know people paint shoes all the time, but I wasn’t necessarily trying to do that.  I whipped out a blue Sharpie and white fabric paint marker and went to town coloring.  I was going for an oxford look.  Something simple that could be worn with other things. I removed the shoestrings so they could be worn free.  There is a piece of elastic inside that keeps the tongue from shifting.


roots finalLol!

There are still a couple of days left, if you are feeling adventurous, to add a culturally inspired outfit to the link up.  The prizes look amazing.

Thanks for visiting!  Any questions or comments?  Drop them below.


32 thoughts on “My roots: Africa and America

  1. Those prints and colours are so dazzling, Tamika! I just love how your outfit came together! Those inspiration photos are incredible…what a feast for the eyes, indeed! And, AMEN to the natural hair…I used to spend way too much time altering the texture of my hair for all the wrong reasons. Thank you so much for participating in the series!

  2. This is very beautiful! I love the contrast of the bold colors and the dry gras and winter trees outside. It looks like an African savanna to me!

  3. Hi Tamika, I love how you reinterpreted the colors of traditional African style! I’ve really loved all outfits of the Roots sewing series, it’s incredible how many shapes, colors, inspirations and styles we can experiment!

  4. Gorgeous! The bright colors and bold prints are just beautiful. I love the modification of the collar and the baby wrap is the icing on the cake! Oh my goodness… I used to wear a banana clip back in the day. LOVED THEM! My middle daughter skipped the clip and went for the real deal. She sports a mohawk and it’s quite fitting on her. You did an amazing job!

    ps, I love the shoes, too!

    1. Ha, ha! I knew that banana clip would take somebody back. Lol! Your middle daughter is a brave soul. Not too many have the guts to pull off a mohawk. Curly Cutie enjoyed her frohawk for the day. I couldn’t stop her from bee-bopping around in the mirror. Lol. Thanks so much for your encouraging words Venus! Thanks for stopping by.

    1. Thank you Farrah! I have wondered what you use on Grace’s hair. It is always so cute. I put this frohawk up on hair that was in need of desperate wash, but it worked out though because I used gel to help slick up the sides. Her hair was already an old twist out, so I just spritzed it with water on it and out popped the fro. Thanks for stopping by.

    1. I thought that was the cutest thing ever too Rachel. She’s been carrying all kinds of stuff around since her brother came into the world. She’ll carry anything in a wrap. Lol! Thanks for stopping by.

  5. This is gorgeous!! Lovely photos too. I have been to Africa – such an amazing country. I love the pics of your daughter with dolly on her back! so sweet:))

  6. Oh, Curly Cutie looks extra super cutie here! I love African fabric and styles, I have been lucky enough to travel to West Africa a couple of times these past months and I spend my whole time there admiring what everyone wears, the incredibly skilled work of seamstresses and the amazing colors and patterns. I have various lengths of fabric I have brought back, as well as the pieces I buy here (as so much of the wax is made in the Netherlands, right next door), but a pale white girl just can’t carry off the colors in the same way! I hope you keep sewing in these fabulous colors and prints!

    1. Lol! That is so neat that you get to travel to Africa for work. I bet you could pull off wearing colors. I plan to get my hands on some real wax prints soon. Any online places you recommend? Now, I’m wanting to make more African inspired creations. Thanks for the encouragement!

  7. Gorgeous! Loved Curly Cutie’s skirt (my favorite of the ensemble) I think the colours pulled me in. But I do know I will have to try to copy the dolly carrier for my little one, she will be so excited! Again you amaze me with all the things you create – well done!

    1. Thanks so much! I am amazed by the beautiful colors I see in your projects as well. The doll carrier is simply one yard of lightweight fabric. I didn’t even finish the edges. It’s all in how you tie it. One double knot around the waist area, and one double knot around the chest area.

  8. Love the bold colors and prints you used, it’s not easy to mix patterns and make them look great! Love the faux hawk. My husband is from west Africa and my 6yo has textured hair. I so wish she would wear her hair this way.

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