The Shitenge Project


I do not sew.  I am not crafty in any sense of the word.  Well, that’s not true, I made a quilt out of old college t-shirts and some pillows once.  However, I’m more than happy to fork over my hard earned cash to artisans who are actually good at their job.  But, as I am currently freelancing with copious amounts of free time between projects, I thought it would be a nice change of pace to attempt a sewing project.

When I was in Namibia I became addicted to buying shitenge material.  Who can blame me? They are brightly colored with unique designs and can be used as a sarong, dress, baby carrier, towel, blanket, tablecloth, wall decor, purses, etc.  Each piece of material is about three feet long and two feet wide and can be purchased at local markets for N$25-40 (US$3-5.50).

Image Credit: Clay O.

Needless to say, I ended up with LOTS of shitenges and I’m still trying to think of unique ways to integrate them into my daily life back in the U.S.  I’ve brainstormed a few ideas for fun material uses and my first project was an iPad cover.  I’d seen some really neat iPad covers on Etsy and figured it couldn’t be too hard (says the novice).  Since I am crazy I decided to go pattern-less and see how the final product would turn out.  Fortunately my mom was a home economist and helped me with the tough parts (like figuring out how to use a sewing machine).

Here’s the finished product.  We added a front pocket for the cords and made it a bit larger than the iPad since I’m splurging on a ClamCase that will make it a bit wider than the iPad is now.  I also added an antique button from my great-grandmother’s button collection for the flap.  It’s not as padded as I would like; I ended up using a quilting pad that seemed thick at the time but doesn’t really offer enough padding for electronics.  But, all in all, not a bad job for my first shitenge project.

Please leave any ideas for future shitenge projects in the comments section but please remember I’m a novice seamstress!


2 responses »

  1. I am totally impressed by this, especially since you say you don’t sew. This doesn’t look like the handiwork of someone who is all thumbs (I have all thumbs, I can spot another one a mile away).

    Hmmm…..Could you go even bigger and make a tote of some kind?

  2. Thanks! To be fair I had a LOTof help from my mom who does know her way around a sewing machine. I was thinking of trying out a basic tote soon but that means I have to remember how to spool thread into the sewing machine. It might take a minute.

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