Matching Nigerian Lace Outfits

We’re basically twins

People often comment on how my fiancé, Bola, and I look alike, so the natural thing to do is, of course, conform to twin stereotypes and dress the same!

If only…

Bola and Doja

In Nigerian tradition, it’s often common for couples to wear the same fabric, tailored into desired styles for a specific occasion. On this day, we were celebrating Bola’s mum’s 60th birthday so she bought us some fabric to make matching outfits with.

Women basically have the freedom to have any style they want tailored although, fishtail and peplum styles are the typical designs sought after. For men, it’s usually trousers and a basic top with heavy embroidery around the neckline. Since I don’t have an embroidery machine, and can’t embroider anyway, I just pattern matched a placket in the neck opening – not so easy.

I wore the traditional Western African head tie, called a ‘gele’ in Yoruba.

Making my dress

My dress was straight forward enough to put together, drafting it was also very easy. With V-necklines (or any altered neckline), you run the risk of it gaping so to avoid this, I did some contouring, which produced a very flat and well fitting neckline.

The top and bottom half of the dress were drafted separately. I drafted the skirt based on the dart positions of the bodice and put them together.

The dress was meant to be longer than what is it. I initially added a fishtail to the bottom but really hated how it looked, so I removed it and suddenly I had a short dress with no other way to make it longer 🙁 so my only option was to cut off the lace trimming from the main fabric and add it to the hem of my dress.

Lace finishing

The flutter sleeves I drafted from a basic sleeve block that I quickly drew up since, for some reason, I don’t actually have a permanent sleeve block that I can just turn to – I’m literally always drafting a new sleeve block for every new project. I finished the hem of the sleeve with silver bias binding to match the silver lining of the dress.

Flutter sleeves

In other news, a flutter sleeve tutorial is coming soon!

Making Bola’s outfit

Bola’s outfit was a minor. I didn’t have to draft the pattern because I already had the one I used last time, and sewing it together was as easy as it could get. Trying to line up the neckline placket so that it matched with the surrounding pattern wasn’t the easiest thing to do, and it took me a whole evening to get it perfect, but once in place, it functioned well and looked clean.

I also lined his trousers part way since the lace fabric was see-through 😉

Progress

The first time Bola and I matched, I’d just started learning to sew, around June 2015, and it was my very first sewing project ever. I made his trousers from scratch and customised a cheap t-shirt by adding a matching wax print sleeve and patch pocket. I’ve definitely come very far; putting together his trousers back then was so hard! I even opted for in-seam pockets and messed up often.

The second time was three months later for our friend’s wedding. I think I did a lot better and even managed to get the most perfect pattern matching placket ever! Definitely better than this blue lace outfit.

Thinking back now, you actually don’t understand how much you’ve learnt until you look back and realise all the struggles you went through aren’t even a problem anymore. So here’s to learning new things and continuous growth.

Clinking Beer Mugs

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5 Comments

    • Thanks a lot! It’s a gorgeous fabric but very stressful to sew. I broke about 6 needles on the diamanté ornaments scattered across the fabric – very annoying!

  1. You guys are adorable. What a cool tradition that lets people literally see who goes with who! Is this lace traditional Nigerian fabric? The hem finish is a cool idea.

    • Haha thank you 😊 haha it’s not always couples, whole families can go matching, or during a wedding the brides family wear their own fabric and the grooms their own too.
      Lace in general is very massive in Nigeria. Just a shame it’s so expensive or I’d work with it more frequently

  2. Hiya,
    I’m just getting into sewing and was wondering if yoou could do a tutorial on how to sew the mens cloths you have pictured? They look great

    Thank you!!

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