Mercy Ships

Mercy Ships
The largest NGO hospital ship in the world providing free medical care to the forgotten poor

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Fabric Shopping in Benin

Imagine endless rows of brightly colored fabrics in shop after shop. The sheer number of different designs is overwhelming.  At first, they all look the same, loud colors and funky designs, but after awhile I start to get my bearings. Sorting through the stacks, I begin to find the patterns that I like. Of course I gravitate to the purples, but also bright yellows, turquoises, and pinks catch my eye. I'm surprised to find designs that include batteries, tires, and even vacuum cleaners. 

The myriad of designs says "patchwork" to me as I envision the quilt I could make with such a fun assortment of fabric; however, the fabric is sold in 6 and 12 yard sections only. 

My friend Jamie and I tried to convince one of the shop owners that he should try selling smaller lengths, but such an idea seemed incomprehensible to him. Here, both men and women wear entire outfits made with just one type of fabric.  At weddings and other celebrations, all the guests might wear outfits made out of the same fabric, thus it would not be abnormal for someone to order 100 yards of the same fabric. 

The fabric market is a key part of life in Benin and it is a common outing for those of us on the ship. There are many local tailors who sew custom made outfits at very affordable prices.  The longer the ship has been in Benin the more brightly colored African outfits you see being worn by fellow crew members. 

So many to choose from!

So much fabric!

The shops proudly display their fabrics outside beckoning you to come in.

This is the dress I got made.


  1. I love your dress. The colors are besutiful! Good choice.

  2. Nice dress. Thanks for the update on your adventures.

  3. SEW MUCH FABRIC! Jealous. :-D Your dress is super cute!

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