27 February 2014

Guest Post: Chayet from Nothing But the Wax, Part II - DIY

Who has a few pieces of gorgeous pagne/wax fabric laying around that you love but don't have a clue how to use?  (Perhaps Sarah or I even gave you one of those pieces as a gift at some point...) 

If you're hesitant to wear those amazing prints, why not sit on them?

"Pimp My Wax" is Chayet's series of nontraditional wax fabric tutorials. Check out this great DIY that she put together for us as Part II of today's Guest Post series:

Today, I'm going to show you a very orange-y Pimp My Wax.  The idea was to transform a very mundane and damaged chair into something original and colorful.  Here are the stages to do the work at your home:

I found this chair in front of my flat on the trash premises. The seat was damaged but I knew I could make something of it. As for the pillow, a good friend gave it to me because she did not want it any more.

STEP 1: I began by figuring out the size of the pillow. You can just put it on the floor, take a pencil and follow outlines, making them larger than the actual pillow to allow for sewing seams. Then, I cut two pillow shapes from my Vlisco fabric. This fabric, I love it!! Real love at first sight! (Editor's Note:  OH YES! Man, do we love Vlisco at Mama Congo...)

STEP 2: Then, I sewed the outlines of the two pieces of fabrics face-to-face.

STEP 3: I added a zipper that I inserted by hand. It is so much simpler to have a pillow with a ZIP and to be able to change quickly covers or even simply wash them.

STEP 4: Next, I tried to sew and reinforce the seat of the chair. I used plastic thread - you know these threads which one uses to make bracelets in pearls - and I sewed by trying to tighten holes to avoid extensions when one sits down on it.

STEP 5: To give a little of freshness and life to the chair, I painted it in orange. I put several coats of paint, because I wanted something of really eye-catching.  No need to go to buy a big can of paint: a small 50 ml jar is enough. (France readers: I used a small jar of the mark (brand) Colours in the colour "Papaya", bought for 2,90€ at Castorama.)  For the best finish, I advise you to add a coat of varnish to shine and to protect the paint and wood.

STEP 6: To finish, I stuffed my cover with the pillow but also with the inside of another old pillow, so that it was full.  I made sure that the whole chair frame - including the seat - was painted as well.

Here is the finished result:

I am very satisfied with it! It brings a pop of colour and funky feel to my lounge. After having convinced my love that a red sofa in a yellow lounge would be very great, no need to argue to convince him that an orange chair would be very cool in the mix!!

I hope that this Pimp My Wax will also give you ideas, to recycle and give a second life to your furniture and other used objects!

Okay.  I'm going to go find some objects to wax-ify now.  How about you? 
For more Pimp My Wax ideas, go here.

Thank you, Chayet!

Guest Post: Chayet from Nothing But the Wax, Part I

I am so excited about this Guest Post!  I stumbled upon Chayet's amazing blog, Nothing But the Wax, a few weeks ago and contacted her about using a photo featuring beautiful wax fabric (or "pagne" as it's called in Congo) pants for the Mama Congo Weekend List.  One thing led to another and here you have one of our most exciting, most COLORFUL, guest spots yet. We decided to split it up into two posts: Part I: Q+A and Part II: DIY.  
First, a little about about Chayet in Part I:

Tell us a little about yourself.  Where do you live?  What do you do? 
My name is Chayet, I’m 28 years old, living in Paris and originally from the Ivory Coast.  I work in finance and blog about wax print fabric and African fashion.

What is your personal connection to wax fabrics?  
I’m passionate about wax fabrics, I blog about it and love to find antique beautiful and rare prints. From my point of view, wax is not just about a fabric.  I see it and experience it more as a lifestyle and share it on my blog.

When did you begin thinking about wax fabrics in high fashion/haute couture?
I made the link between wax fabrics and Haute Couture the first time I saw Juanjo Oliva Spring Summer 2010 collection (see pictures below). This collection was just amazing, so classy, so modern. At this time I just began my blog. One year later, Burberry launched its Prorsum Collection, which, I can say, was the beginning of a new trend: using wax fabric in Haute Couture.  Moschino, Gerard Darel, Agnès B, Simonnetta Ravizza etc., all used wax fabrics for their Spring/Summer 2012 collection.  It was like  they were on to a good thing. Wax fabrics was so trendy than even retailers like Etam, Topman, H&M, Esprit etc. did the same.

What motivated you to begin "Nothing But theWax"?
At the beginning, I was just learning to use a sewing machine and I wanted to share with people my passion for wax fabric and my own handmade and homemade creations. Then, I discovered a lot of designers making beautiful clothes with this fabric and realized that they didn’t have the exposure they deserved in media. This was particularly true for African designers. So, my motivation began to make people aware about this new African fashion.

What is your current favorite clothing item made from wax fabric? 
I love this high waisted skirt from Yinkaalli!! It’s bright and colourful!! I can wear it  in winter as in summer with boots or high steels. This skirts allows every style.

 And I’m also in love with Mariah Bocoum's clothing line Les péchés Mignons, in particular with this dress which is so vintage and classy: 

Where do you buy your wax fabric in Paris?
I buy my wax fabric in a well known African district of Paris called “Château Rouge” and sometimes at “Toto”, a shop specializing in African prints. 

Not sure what to do with that beautiful piece of pagne/wax fabric sitting at home? 
Stay tuned for a special DIY by Chayet later today!

*all photos provided by Chayet for this post

21 February 2014

Weekend List!

Sarah's List:

Everyone loves infographics these days, right? Now you can make your own! (Really, it's easy.)

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Critiques of voluntourism are getting a lot of traction lately. What do you think?

Reminds me of this Onion article that doesn't even seem fake.

Is it time for the accessibility sign to get a makeover?

Alternative Handicapped Accessible sign
By Sara Hendren & Brian Glenney (http://www.accessibleicon.org) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Tyranny of the Bad Mother. I'm aiming for that sweet spot somewhere between slacker and perfect.

Everything you've ever wanted to know about the world. (Users swear by it.)

Cheltenham ... MIND THE GAP (6191889892)
By BazzaDaRambler (Cheltenham ... MIND THE GAPUploaded by Oxyman) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

And Jerry Seinfeld talks bedtime. Thank you for this, Jerry...

"The bedtime routine for my kids is like this Royal Coronation Jubilee Centennial of rinsing and plaque and dental appliances and the stuffed animal semi-circle of emotional support. And I've gotta read eight different moron books. You know what my bedtime story was when I was a kid? Darkness!"

Charlotte's semi-circle of support.

And Ani's. Not just limited to plush items. But also her purse, sunglasses and bananas.

Jill's List:

Can't decide what I think of this book.  But I haven't read it yet.  Who has?  What did you think?


As we think about transitioning back to living in the U.S., I realized that I have lost perspective on the prices of things like groceries, transportation, rent, electric bills, and (gulp) childcare.  This blog is an entertaining look at one couple's various budgets in various locales, plus posts like, "How We Made Money Off of Our Baby."  

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These budget questions were too daunting for us, so we put Loulou on the case.
She's been making some calls and sorting everything out for us.
If only we could figure out how to make money off of her.

There were a couple of interesting birth-related items this week: birth is rarely by the book & an interesting study.

This image by Alice Proujansky accompanied this article in the NYTimes.  Used with permission.

What do you think about this opinion piece?
So, professors, don’t cloister yourselves like medieval monks — we need you!

Innovative ideas for homelessness in our old stomping grounds.

Loulou's G-ma wants to do this with her...starting with her tutus.

This one's all about the fashion.

 And.  Who wants to move to Congo?

18 February 2014

African Stereotypes

A few weeks ago Adam and I had dinner with friends from different countries in Africa. At one time or another they had all gone to university in the United States. They had all lived with Americans and worked with Americans. As the evening went on, and the Tembo flowed, they talked with each other about their experiences Stateside. Naturally, some good-spirited storytelling and stereotyping ensued...

You know I never minded when Americans asked me crazy questions about Africa. Because how are they supposed to know? They've never been here. They'd ask if we all speak the same language [no] and if we pay taxes [of course!]. I always appreciated honest questions because that's how we learn about each other. 

Agreed, I prefer the Americans who have never been to Africa. It's the Americans who have been to Africa that drive me crazy... Listen, just because you did Peace Corps in a "village" in Zambia doesn't mean you know anything about the country I'm from.

From a collection of drawings by students in Congo: "Stereotypes about Africa."

I think a lot of Americans feel ashamed that they don't know about anything that's going on in my country. But how can they?! Any big city in the US will have more local newspapers, TV and radio stations than we have in my entire country. How can I possibly expect Americans to keep up with all their local news and what's happening in my tiny country. It's impossible. Me, on the other hand, I have to keep up with international news. I can't afford not to. 

Everyone warned me that Americans would judge me by the color of my skin. In my experience, Americans fell over themselves to accommodate me. The only time I experienced racism in the United States was when a shop owner followed me around his store because he thought I was going to steal something. But it turned out he was French. [Followed by uproarious laughter.]

You know what I never understood about Americans. Their emotions! They're so afraid to show they're sad. My co-worker's father died and she only took two days off. TWO DAYS. And I never saw her cry. I have to take two days off work if I even start thinking about the day my dad will die. 

More from the collection of Stereotypes about Africa.




 Stereotypes about America by students in Africa. 

My, my. Aren't stereotypes fascinating. 

14 February 2014

Weekend List!

Jill's List:

I so wish that I didn't fear/respect Getty Images' litigious reputation so much, because I want to show you these new stock photos showing women and girls as something more than "Women in Shoulder Pads Emasculating Tiny Men" (Description of women traditionally seen in stock photography by Alice Proujansky). I kind of want to be friends with all of these new ladies.

Our own alternative version of women at work:  Mama Youyou teaching Adam how to use that sewing machine.

Three photography books you should buy: this, this, and this (an early Sartorialist?) - Curated by Lara!

Buy this book here.

For those of you stuck in a blizzard.

A similar activity at our house...

2/14/14 in Virginia.  I heart this.

2/14/14 in Kinshasa.

You know you live in Congo when...
...these are what you find your three year old carrying around the house as her newest treasure:

(Learn more about this important campaign here.)

You MUST look at this blog.  Hip pagne is everywhere.  Click.  Now! Quick!

Thanks, Chayet, for letting us use your image!
Stay tuned, Mama Congo readers, for a Guest Post from this fabulous Parisian.

Hey!  Does anyone want my job?  No, I'm serious.  Email me if you're interested.  Starts August 2014.

Sarah's List:

The science of reincarnation. I first read this article a few months ago and I can't get it out of my head.

Turns out there's a scientific reason people don't like redheads.

I happen to like redheads. Just defying science one kid at a time.

Oh gosh. This looks amazing. A Kenyan mockumentary about the NGO world.

Could "brain drain" actually be good for Africa? An interesting argument.

Redemption Song: What happens when children of war enter civilian life. 

Guess whose recipe is going to be published in a cookbook? Mama Youyou and her nyanpul will be making an appearance in the next edition of Share: The Cookbook That Celebrates Our Common Humanity.

Buy the previous edition here.

Check out the organization behind this great cookbook, Women for Women International.

Stuck inside? DIY playdough! (Worth a look just for the beautiful photos.)

Who doesn't love a round of "Would you rather..."

And here's a good one. Snowpocalypse folks: Would you rather dig yourself out of the snow or battle worms in your kid's foot?

Yep, dear Charlotte's got a case of the "creeping eruption" otherwise known as worms crawling in your foot. Cause: Running barefoot one too many times with neglectful parents who clearly didn't scrub that foot enough.

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