HISTORY OF SHWESHWE
Shweshwe, isishweshwe, shoeshoe, 3cats are all synonymous with Shweshwe fabric. A textile unique to South Africa with a rich history going back a long time and according to Dagama Textiles, the South African Company that produces shweshwe fabric, shweshwe first arrived in South Africa in the 1840’s. Lesotho’s King Moshoeshoe popularised shweshwe. In addition, it became popular in South Africa and was, amongst others, adopted into Xhosa, Basotho and Setswana culture. Each culture adopting unique garments as part of different rituals and ceremonies, much like the traditional wearing blankets were adopted by South African cultures into different rituals and ceremonies.
Authentic shweshwe or shoeshoe bears the 3cats branding and is manufactured by Da Gama Textiles still using traditional acid dyeing and copper rolling rolling finishing processes and most importantly the starching process (a preservation process) which gives the cloth a unique and distinctive smell. The starchy hardness and smell both disappear after washing the shweshwe. Da Gama’s shweshwe are consistently of a great quality and today the range and colours of shweshwe are plentiful. Shweshwe is probably one of the most adaptable and versatile fabrics we sell. We have over the years sold the fabric for use in High end Fashion, Wedding Gowns, Handbags and even Jewelry pieces to uniforms, coats and hats. We’ve seen it used for trimming, as applique, cut into decorative binding, for use in soft furnishings, bedding, upholstery, as a mask cloth, and even underwear.
We at Makotis have been supplying shweshwe and manufacturing clothing with shweshwe since the 1960’s. We keep a wide range of South African 3cats Shweshwe.
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Shweshwe comes as a standard 90cm wide fabric
shweshwe also has a shrinkage of 8-10% on the first wash
HOW TO WASH SHWESHWE
- Use cold water and lightly scrub the shweshwe to get out the starch from it, optionally you can let it soak for about 10 minutes
- Dry the shweshwe on a clothes line after washing it.
washing shweshwe also makes it softer and easier to sew with.