Bois carib dress

Dress for Dominica using national flower and flag colours

Dress for Dominica using national flower and flag colours

I found out that most of the West Indians in Preston in the 1980s came from Dominica. The national flower of Dominica is the bois carib. It took me some time to make a design with the bois carib flower that I was happy with and that would work with the tiny amount of map that I had available since the islands are so small. The first designs had too few flowers to make an impact because of this limitation. In the end I decided to use maps of other Caribbean islands as well, and use maps for only half of the flowers, drawing the rest.

I wanted to make a dress using ‘fabrics’ of 2 different colours. I saw the Dominica flag, and decided to use those colours; the green and yellow for the background colours, and the black, white and red for the pattern. I love the contrasts.

The work making the dresses demands so much patience – such as waiting for 5cm of glued seam to dry before gluing the next 5cm, which I have to do when fitting two curved edges together, or trying to coax paper to bend rather than fold, crumple and crease. And then I finish a piece, and I know why I put myself through it.