Shweshwe Fabric

Shweshwe fabric is a popular African fabric. We stock a wide variety of 100% cotton including the Three Cats Shweshwe Designs found here

How Can You Use Shweshwe Fabric

Shweshwe is such a versatile fabric.  This African design is ideal for weddings, evening and casual wear. It’s also perfect for workwear.  Shweshwe fabric makes beautiful ottomans, curtains and upholstery. We offer decorating services to incorporate the fabric into your home.

History of Shweshwe Designs

Shweshwe was first worn in South Africa by Moeshoesho the Sotho king in 1840. The cloth arrived in the country only in the colour indigo. It was then called shoeshoe or isishweshwe after the king. Xhosa women started adding the fabric to their orange blanket clothing.
Later the cloth came in bright red and chocolate brown. Shweshwe material is now available in more colours including indigo, brown and red. Black, green, turquoise, pumpkin, shocking pink and yellow/gold is also available.

How it’s Made

We purchase our shweshwe fabric in Cape Town from Da Gama Textiles. Which is one of the oldest mills still operating. They use a traditional discharge printing method for the Shweshwe designs. This transfers a weak acid solution onto the cloth. After processing the fabric, the acid solution will react with the dye. Which leaves the white markings characterising the original design.


Shweshwe Fabric in the Fashion Industry

South African fashion designers have used shweshwe in their collections. Palesa Mokubung, Bongiwe Walaza and Durban designer Amanda Laird Cherry. All this has helped make shweshwe popular. Shweshwe designs are the number one choice for Africans and designers alike.

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