by Heidi Emmett

Rafiki means friend in Swahili. Below is my original Rafiki skirt. DSC_0046 (2)

DSC_0103Rubix!! Get out of the picture!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe original Rafiki skirt was made by the beautiful young ladies that you see above.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAbove is my friend, Judy Stokes who has worked with many lovely young women, who are either orphans or widows. Judy is involved with the Rafiki foundation. Please look them up: Rafikifoundation.org Judy’s job for 7 years was teaching these women to sew to enable them to earn a living on their own.She worked in four different African countries in orphanages and schools all built and run by the Rafiki Foundation.

When Judy would come home for a few months she would always bring clothing and accessories to sell. I bought the skirt that is in the first picture. The beautiful African fabrics make it unique, but so does the figure flattering design. I especially like the flirty, flared bottom edge. Whenever I wear my Rafiki skirts I get compliments. I got 2 from men while walking with the original one on in the Denver airport.

In talking with Judy she said she had to develop patterns for the women to sew  that were fast and easy to make and did not use a conventional tissue pattern (unheard of in Africa).


She taught me the process and above is my proto-type. It is too short and not enough of that flirty flaring at the bottom (I still wear it because I love the Marcia Derse fabrics). So I tried again. This skirt pattern, as well as all the clothing and accessory items that you see at the Rafiki Foundation Store (GREAT gift ideas) are mostly Judy Stokes’ designs.

DSC_0037And a close up. I used more Marcia Derse fabrics. They have an organic look to them that reminds me of African fabrics a la American feeling (is there such a thing?).

DSC_0036I made yet another one to perfect that flirty flare at the bottom. Christine has that one.

I talked to Judy some more. She is back in the states permanently but travels to Florida twice a year to write curriculum for all these women. They have to know how to take care of and repair their own Singer Sewing machines (you know the black, straight stitch ones). They also learn about sewing garments without using patterns. Sewing is just one aspect of their life changing classes and new ways of life learned at Rafiki.

I am so excited to be able to help Judy in this worthwhile cause. I told Judy the pattern for this skirt must be made available to ladies everywhere. I asked her if we could call it The Rafiki skirt. I have been working on getting it to Craftsy.com and will be finishing it up in the next few weeks.


So look for “Rafiki Skirt” soon on Craftsy.com Look under clothing patterns, skirts, and type in Heidi Emmett or Designs by Heidi. 90% of the sales will go to Rafiki Foundation so YOU will be helping too! Have a great, creative rest of October. Hugs, Heidi