African print fabrics are standalone statement fabrics so putting two or even three together can sometimes feel intimidating. But don’t worry! Use these few tips to nail your next garment with mixed prints.
Tip #1: Pick fabrics with the same undertones
You typically want to find fabrics with the same neutral color. A neutral color in an African print fabric is usually white, tan or black. If the base color is tan, you want to stay away from fabrics with a base color of white or black. Once you have picked your base color, you can move on to add additional colors. For my example, my neutral color is white.
Tip #2: Find two colors that are complementary to the neutral color
Once you pick your primary color, you can look for prints with the same color intensity. If you are looking for a fabric for a fall jacket, try warm colors like oranges and red with a base color of off white. The trick is you want to find fabrics that have the same neutral color. With my example below, white is my base color and my complementary color is gray and blue.
Tip #3: Match shapes or patterns
I’ve seen every shape, scale, color and design on African prints so I know it can be daunting. When I’m mixing prints, I like to match prints according to their shapes. So, if a fabric has a lot of sharp angles, I like to look for another print with different shapes but is also angular. With the three fabrics below, they all have zig zag or diamond shapes in it that bring the colors together.
Tip #4: Consider the fabric scale
I like to mix fabrics that have contrasting scales. For instance, if I’m making a dress, I’ll use a fabric with a large motif and accents of another print with a small motif. For instance, if you have a print with a large circles, you may want to complement it with a print that has small shapes like a kente cloth.
Tip #5: Trust your gut!
If you love two prints together but it breaks all the rules above, go for it! If you love two or three African prints that have similar colors but all have large motifs, I think they will work out together. As long as the fabrics don’t clash together, you can break a rule or two.
If you're ready to mix some prints for your next project, you can shop some pre-selected pairings here. Select your main fabric and choose your additional prints at the bottom of the product page. Enjoy!