Are African wax print fabrics finally getting the attention that they deserve in home textiles?

le petit congalese wax prints.jpgI was delighted to see a post in the Linked In group ‘Home Textiles Professionals” of which I am a member whereby one member mentioned that they are all the rage in France currently. She asked if we thought the trend would catch on in the U.S. Anyone who follows my blog or buys from my website ( knows that I have been selling African and Dutch wax print decorative pillows as well as fabric by the yard since stumbling upon them in early 2009. I still do. They just never seemed to mesh with U.S. consumers despite being a party waiting to happen. This same Linked In Group Member posted a great article about Africa wax prints that I am reposting.

One very serious concern that I have regarding Africa textiles is their being knocked off or copied in China. since the launch of Fabricadabra in 2008, I have purchased African batik, indigo cloth, mud cloth and Ankara or wax prints to make decorative pillow covers. I find it disheartening to see retailers such as Anthropologie buy Chinese knock-off fabric to make bedding and upholstered furniture using the copied versions. They charge enough for their products that it us unnecessary. Not only that, their using them tacitly implies approval of this process. Africa’s beautiful fabrics should be made by Africa’s textile artists in the traditional wax resist methods that they employ and not be copied and rotary screen printed in China for global distribution under the name of African wax printed fabric. Furthermore, the true Africa fabrics do not actually cost nearly as much as they should. They are a bargain, unless you  buy them through One King’s Lane.

So, here is the repost of a blog article by Kenisa Home that highlights how on trend they are in France currently.

There have been many studies about the toxic #flameretardants in upholstered furniture, but I read little about the same ones that are in our mattresses whereby we spend more time in than on our sofas. I’m curious as to when this will be addressed and shared with consumers. This one article addresses it in the tagline, but not in the content of the article. The same flame retardants are in foam pillow inserts, electronics, car seats and so many other products that we use daily.


The importance of G.O.T.S. certified fabrics

I discovered a new brand of upholstered furniture this week that touted its eco and non-toxic attributes. These include Certi-Pur non-FR foam (about 90% petrochemical)and fabrics treated with Scotchgard (See the Environmental Working Group’s easy guide to toxicity at . I was flabbergasted that this company promoted these as non-toxic. The founder of the company doesn’t have a background in textiles or chemistry, so I immediately understood that she was only sharing what she was told. But, do we believe everything that we are told? I used to. The Gold standard for less toxic textiles is the Global Organic Textiles Standard GOTS). Conventionally processed textiles are loaded with heavy metals. Even if the fabrics are made from natural fibers, the entire process from growing the fibers, spinning the yarns, weaving the fabric, dyeing and finishing is nasty. I’d like to share this information that my diligent friends at Oecotextiles shared with us. Please do check out their beautiful collection of far less toxic home decorating fabrics.

You will not have to live with fabrics containing chemicals which have been proven to cause harm – chemicals which are often outlawed in other products – because the fabric is produced to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).

A fabric made from organic fibers is not necessarily an organic fabric. Why is this a big deal? It’s like taking organic apples, and cooking them with Red Dye #2, preservatives, emulsifiers, and stabilizers – you can’t call the finished product organic applesauce; and you should not feed it to your kids. Same is true with fabrics.

GOTS defines a standard for organic fabrics that covers every step of the complicated textile production process from field to finished fabric to store shelf; not just the fiber. GOTS is so comprehensive that it governs details such as packaging materials; warehouse cleaning chemicals; warehouse pest conrol practices and labels. GOTS covers workers rights; and, although it does not directly address carbon footprint, its other organic requirments mean that a GOTS fabric is by far the best choice you can make, regardless of country of production. GOTS certified fabric is therefore much more than just a textile which is made from organic fibers. It is an organic fabric.

The GOTS standard only applies to natural fibers, and requres the use of third party certifed organic fiber. (For synthetic fibers, use only Global Recycling Standard Gold level recylced polyester if you must; and some rare nylon. Read our blog – see link in the footer below, for updates or for more.)

In addition to requiring that all inputs have to meet basic requirements on toxicity and biodegradability, one of the important things that GOTS does is close a very common loophole with greenwashers. GOTS prohibits entire classes of chemicals, rather than calling out specific prohibited chemical in a class. What that means is that instead of prohibiting, for example lead and cadmium and therefore allowing other heavy metals by not prohibiting the entire class, GOTS prohibits ALL heavy metals. Here’s the GOTS Version 3.0 list:

Aromatic solvents Prohibited
Chlorophenols (such as TeCP, PCP) Prohibited
Complexing agents and surfactantss Prohibited are: All APEOS, EDTA,
Fluorocarbons Prohibited (i.e., PFOS, PFOA)
Halogenated solvents Prohibited
Heavy Metals Prohibited
Inputs containing functional nanoparticles Prohibited
Inputs with halogen containing compounds Prohibited
Organotin compounds Prohibited
Plasticizers (i.e., Phthalates, Bisphenol A
and all others with endocrine disrupting
Quaternary ammonium compounds Prohibited

Other GOTS strengths include:

Strict and extensive water treatment internally before water is discharged to the local ecosystem. Water treatment applies to pH and temperature as well as to biological and chemical residues in the water. Even if only salt is used in the fabric processing, returning salty water to the local lake will kill amphibians and wreck havoc with the local ecosystem.

Environmentally sound packaging requirements are in place: PVC in packaging is prohibited, paper must be post-consumer recycled or certified according to FSC or PEFC.

Labor practices are audited in accordance with the International Labor Organization (ILO) standards – no forced, bonded, or slave labor; workers have the right to join or form trade unions and to bargain collectively; working conditions are safe and hygienic; there must be no new recruitment of child labor; and for those companies where children are found to be working, provisions must be made to enable him/her to attend and remain in quality education until no longer a child; wages paid must meet, at a minimum, national legal standards or industry benchmarks, whichever is higher; working hours are not excessive and inhumane treatment is prohibited.

Was Lilly Pulitzer the original boho decorator? Her Palm Beach home.

Ankara or wax print pillow party

I never tire of the bold colors and designs of  ankara or wax print fabrics. Mix and match these fun and decorative pillows. wax-print-beauty-shot-1024x768


Non-toxic Floor Cushions


Between the Chicago Tribune’s three part expose on flame retardants in upholstered furniture and the documentary from which the expose was inspired name Toxic Hot Seat, there are few moms out there who have not heard or read about toxic flame retardants in upholstered furniture, mattresses , car seat, pajamas and many everyday objects to which they and their children are exposed.  The research and results of researching truly non-toxic sofas can prove frustrating and disappointing when the results are exposed that truly non-toxic sofas come with a high price tag. Ones that switch out FR foam for non-FR foam are much better than ones with flame retardants. But, in the research process you learn just how nasty other components of conventional sofas are: the particleboard, glues, stains, still getting a foam that is a petrochemical. If you check out textiles, you will learn that conventional upholstery fabrics prove to processed with heavy metals.

So, do you ditch the sofa and revert to floor cushions or no sofa until you can save to buy a truly least toxic one such as EKLA HOME’s or Ecobalanza’s? Quite possibly. With floor cushions becoming so popular with teens and younger adults due to their versatility , I decided to commission the making of French mattress tufted floor cushions that have carry handles and are filled with Oeko-tex 10o certified wool and covered in untreated, undyed linen.

They are pretty darn comfortable! I sat my older body on them every day for four months while I worked until I had a simple solid hardwood desk in a no-VOC stain made for me. I line three of them up as mattress cushions when Hannah comes home from college with a guest. I can stack them up under the bed as needed.


Follow up to repost of Wax print umbrellas

Over four years ago, I posted about these beautiful and ethical wax print umbrellas.  I have since found another company in South Africa  that is making umbrellas using Ghanan wax printed fabrics that are treated for water repellency.   The handles and principles aren’t as amazing as Joyaux Marisol’s, but the umbrellas are quite happy and colorful. The makers are on their Summer holiday right now, but I plan to have these on order as soon as they reopen. Do you like them?wax-print-umbrellas

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