Saturday, August 25, 2012

French Vintage

Collecting vintage linens seems to be becoming a "hobby". At home in Vancouver, I have many linens, laces and embroidered works that I have inherited from my mothers family. Here in France, where I have no heritage of my own, it is possible to find vintage linens and laces at the "Marches aux Puce" (flea markets), as well as the larger "Brocantes" and Antique Fairs. Over the past 7 years, I have collected a few pieces that have caught my attention. When I look for antique fabrics, I look for something that can be reused in a new piece of my own, so they must be clean (without any stains) and in good condition.

Here are a few of the vintage pieces that I have found at these markets.

19th Century Toile de Jouy  and raw cotton muslin. Both pieces were found in the town of L'isle sur la Sorgue, which is well known for it's large antique market, held every Sunday in the central town square.
On the wrong side of the fabric the old quilting lines are still visible.  Some loose threads are still clinging to the fabric from a previous era.
100% linen tea towels in pristine condition. I found these in Barjac a few weeks ago.
The handstitched blind hem as well as the hand embroidered monogram were sewn on with great care.
100% linen napkins with a hand stitched rolled hem as well as pulled threadwork detailing the border.  Found in Arles at their monthly Marche aux Puce.
Cotton hand embroidered table runner in the French national colours. ( Found in Arles)
Detail of the embroidery.
Lace cuffs from the Cevennes region of France from the early 20th century.  They are a gift from our dear friends Gigi and Gilbert. The cuffs once belonged to Gilbert's grandmother.
Gilbert, Gigi et moi enjoying some pre lunch "nibbles" on our little balcony.

Here is the completed piece of boutis that I started in Madame Born's class this past summer. It must still be set into a piece of linen to finish it properly.

These antique "boutoirs" were found at the market in Barjac. "Boutoirs" are the tools used to tuck in the ends of the cording after it has been pulled through the stitched channels. One is a silver boutoir, the other three are made from bone.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Going "Brocantes" in Barjac

In the pleasant atmosphere of a Renaissance village, under the shade of magnificent plane trees that are a very familiar sight in France, the town of Barjac hosts it's annual 3 day "Foire aux Antiquites et la Brocante" (Antique Fair and Flea Market).

Barjac, a 2 hour drive north of Montpellier in the Gard region of France, is a Renaissance village, complete with ancient narrow, winding roads that are flanked on either side by stone houses, original to the time.

The vibrant colour of the red geraniums and impatience adds life to the golden grey of the limestone walls.
A gateway to a residential area.
 Here the old  town ramparts act as a market place for the 3 day event.

Frequented by both locals and tourists, the fair has been an annual event since 1974. As the name suggests, (Antique Fair and Flea market), there are both quality antiques to be found as well as some more affordable vintage finds.

Beautifully refinished furniture can be found as well as a vast assortment of  unfinished  furniture for those who like the challenge.
Antique china everywhere.

Copper ice buckets.
Copper pots and pans. Wish I had the space for some of those!

At these markets, I am always on the lookout for vintage linens, silks, laces etc.. In my next blog, I will post photos of some of my finds.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sewing on the "Straight and Narrow"

After having appliqued the polka dots onto the placemats, I feel that just a touch of "pizazz" is needed to bring a little more spark to them . To accomplish this, I will add a narrow line of mixed, 1/4 inch stripped colour.

Having recently seen Sally Collins teaching a lesson on precision piecing on "The Quilt Show" website (  I was inspired to try her method. At times, those of us who have been quilting and sewing for many years, will use certain short cuts and speed sewing techniques to get a project done a little faster. Although the goal is always to make the best product we can, sometimes precision is sacrificed for speed. Watching Sally was a reminder that this should never be an option.  Striving for the best quality is never a waste of time, and accuracy is always worth the extra effort and time.

Using Sally's method, I was able to make a very accurate and consistent 1/4 inch strips. It takes precision cutting, precision stitching and precision pressing, all of which Sally addresses in the program that I watched.
From the above block, I cut perpendicular strips of 1", which will give me a finished strip of 1/2" (leaving a 1/4" seam on either side), set into the top of the placemat. [Measurements get a little crazy for me here in France. I am still most comfortable using imperial measurements (inches) in my quilting  (even though Canada has been metric for many years),  yet all of my sewing tools in France are metric. Yikes!]

Sally Collins' book "Mastering Precision Piecing" will soon find it's way to my library, as well as her DVD on precision piecing. Both are available on her website.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Placemats, Just for Fun!

This summer, because of the opportunity to learn from Madame Born, most of my focus has been directed towards boutis. My interest in boutis is growing steadily, however, this past week, I felt a need to reacquaint myself with my fabric stash and my Bernina. Therefore, I'm taking a slight detour from the "road of boutis" to the "highway of Bernina".

This fabric, prepped for cutting, all came form my stash. It will find itself happy in a placemat.
Freezer paper templates pressed to the fabric. The dots will be machine appliqued to the background fabric.
Precision cut strips ready for piecing.
She's all set!
All the parts and pieces are ready to go as well.