Wax Print Scout Tee, and Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation

Another Scout Tee!!  Can you tell that I love this pattern?!  It makes the perfect light, airy, but still structured shirt - and it goes with almost anything, especially jeans.  It's a perfect casual Fridays staple.  

Matt and I have some friends who lived in both Senegal and Tanzania for a while, and when we got married (nearly 2 years ago now!) they gifted us (me) with some gorgeous wax-print fabric (also known as Ankara fabrics).  I have been hoarding it since then, not sure what to do with it yet.  Enter, the Scout Tee!

This pattern is the perfect, un-fussy medium to showcase a fun print.  One of the reasons I've been avoiding sewing anything with these fabrics (I have three more!) is that I didn't want to waste the beautiful prints.  I didn't have a lot of the green one, so I knew I had to make this one count.  

One thing I was a little concerned about with using this fabric is cultural appropriation... I try to be conscious of not infringing on other cultures that I'm not a part of, and would generally avoid any RTW clothing that could fall into this category.  Fabricland has been selling these kinds of prints lately, and I completely steered clear of them.  I don't want to be that ignorant white girl wearing something that has significance in another culture!  I just want to use these gorgeous fabrics - and I have too much for them to only be used in home decor!

So, I did a bit of research behind these fabrics.  Some articles said "No!  White people can never wear these prints!", others said "Ugh, it's just a pattern, anyone can wear it!" I tired to find something in between those two, and I think the following (source) summarizes just that:
"The question I’m asked often, by other budding designers or people in creative spaces, is this: “But I can be inspired by anything! How do I avoid people saying I’m ‘appropriating’?” The answer is simple -- give credit to your inspiration. 
Respect it by researching it, and make others respect it by sharing with them what you’ve learned. It takes two seconds to say “I saw these fabrics in photos of a wedding celebration in Ghana.” It takes half a second to emphasize that you’re using ankara fabrics, or Indonesian batiks, or textile designs from 1960s Russia. Really, it doesn’t take that much effort to supply proper attribution (journalism 101) -- which is why when designers and companies don’t do it, the end result feels so dismissive and insulting. And, often, poorly executed. 
So the moral of the story: Don’t be a dick when it comes to design. Honor your inspiration, in research and in execution. Don’t act like the people who created it never existed. Don’t pretend that your audience won’t know where it came from. Someone will. And that someone will happily call you out."

It is still a bit of a grey-area, but I was given these fabrics to sew with - and I'm not going to let them go to waste at the bottom of my fabric drawers.  I think as long as I am cognizant of the background of these fabrics, and inform anyone who asks, I can be comfortable wearing them.

I was a bit worried about the pattern placement - I didn't really want the big green blobs sitting right on my boobs... and I think it turned out ok!  Like my Fishy Scout Tee, I chose to cuff the arm-holes.  I didn't use interfacing this time, and I think they turned out much better.

Also, I used a colour-gradient green thread I had kicking around from an old quilting project - which I think worked perfectly with all the different shades of green in the top!  If you look closely, you and kinda see it ;)

I got a little bit of puckering on the shoulders this time, but I'm actually kind of happy with how that turned out.

Anyways!  I think I've satisfied myself (please comment if you have any opinion - I'm open to thoughts and ideas!) that I can be comfortable in wearing this print, as long as I fully acknowledge the culture and history behind it, and let people know about it when/ if they ask.

Here are links to other things I read about cultural appropriation if you're curious (1) (2) (3) (4) (5).

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