Since I came back from my last visit to Nigeria in 2010 (yes, almost two years ago!), I’ve been wanting to share an idea for a great souvenir for your non-Nigerian female friends, the ones I’m imagining you’re returning to after visiting Nigeria. This souvenir is lightweight, easy to pack in your luggage, and it’s sure to be loved. Have you guessed what it is?
A scarf! It’s a great accessory, even for women who don’t accessorize much, and when it’s a scarf made from ankara, you’ll be giving a souvenir that will a) be used and b) turn heads.
Ankara is sold in six-yard lengths. We asked a seamstress to make scarves that were 2 yards (6 feet) long and 1/3 the width of the ankara (
does anyone know what this standard width is? Gbemisoke did! The width of the material is 45 inches which means each scarf was 15 inches wide). If you like longer scarves, you could make them 3 feet long and 15 inches wide.
I wanted the edges to be finished so they were serged on all four sides (the yellowish-gold thread below). The seamstress selected complementary colours for the serging and I think that added a lot to the finished product.
My mom, sister, and I each chose an ankara print we liked. Two of the ankara were six yards long so they made 9 scarves each, while one was only two yards long so it made three scarves. We then redistributed the scarves among the three of us to give to our friends. I ended up with six in the end and in the interest of full disclosure I kept the three in the first picture for myself!
Giving a non-Nigerian something made from ankara is a perfect way to share the beauty of Nigeria with them through the bright colours and lovely designs of ankara prints. There are so many other things that can be made from ankara too: in the past we’ve made skirts and blouses or shirts for friends here. Lots of people are making jewelry from the ankara print too so if you know someone in Nigeria doing that, that’s a great souvenir. What about a belt? I know one of my brothers would totally rock an ankara belt. Bowties, regular ties, a table runner…there are so many things that can be made from this fabric.
What is your favourite souvenir to bring from Nigeria for friends?