Rearabetswe Sewing Project, Lichtenburg, North West
Did you know?
Shweshwe fabric was originally worn only by married Xhosa women, but today has become a statement of African tradition.
Tucked away adjacent to the municipality on the corner of Nelson Mandela and Transvaal roads in the North West Town of Lichtenburg, you’ll find a small facility whose exterior belies the hive of industry going on inside.
This is the home of the Rearabetswe Sewing Project, where local seamstresses create beautiful soft furnishings and traditional garments that are used to brighten homes in South Africa and abroad.
Born in 2002, Rearabetswe has seen its membership rise and fall over the years as members have come and gone. Today, a core group of ladies continues to produce a range of beautifully made cushions, table runners, tablecloths, bags and embroidered goods that are sold from their outlet and via larger craft exhibitions at centres in the province.
To widen their product offering, the ladies also sew popular traditional garments in ethnic shweshwe Xhosa-style printed fabric. These highly detailed outfits in blue, brown or red often feature inlaid panels of a contrasting fabric and are complemented by African necklaces, beads and bangles. The outfits are a perennial favourite among local clientele, and equally popular among tourists who buy them as African mementoes.
When you visit the Rearabetswe Sewing Project, you’ll also get to meet a lone gentleman member of the project who specialises in silk-screen printing. Together with the ladies, he creates original patterns that are printed onto plain fabric and used to make various items. A particular favourite in this line is screen-printed bull-denim bags, which are snapped up as fast as they’re made.
The Rearabetswe Sewing Project is open to visitors on Tuesdays (visits on other days can be arranged ahead of time – see ‘Who to contact’ for contact details). The other days of the week are devoted to marketing and exhibiting wares away from the premises.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Rearabetswe Sewing Project
Phone: +27 (0)73 249 4951