Thursday, May 28, 2015

Flea Markets in France


We are getting ready to leave for France for the seventh year of our Chateau Getaway!  Each summer, as June approaches, I start to think about the flea markets, vide greniers and brocantes we will visit in France...I am always excited when the flea market schedule comes out and we get to plan our schedule for the month of June.  This summer, we are lucky to have a handful of some of the best markets on, including: Beaumont (pictured above), Montauban, Septfonds, Bruniquel, Caussade, Molieres and Realville!

But what to look for...how to choose what is something really special and what should be left behind for someone else to carry home?  Here are some of my favorite treasures to look for in France while at the flea markets...


Tapestry, tapestries and more tapestries!  The older the better...and anything with a tag or marking on it...even better!  This centuries old tradition in France was once the bread and butter for many artisans.  Now, practically a dying trade, we are lucky enough to visit one of the great tapestry weavers in Montpezat, who, for the past 60 years, has been sitting at her loom weaving day in and day out - and you have never seen a more perfect posture!


Linens!  I will walk a mile for a box full of old linens - and again, the older the better!  Old cotton nightshirts, linen convent gowns, lace collars, indigo aprons - you name it and I want it!  I am not such a stickler for the perfectly cleaned and pressed linens - I would much rather buy the discarded pieces and take them home and watch their beauty unfold after soaking, washing and ironing them.  My mom, Kick, is the master laundress, so most of our old linens end up on her lawn for a good brightening from the sun and the chlorophyll in the grass!


Hardware - particularly old brass curtain rings!  Any size, any color, any design, I like to use these pieces in my home to hang old linen sheets up as curtains.  These small brass rings can easily be sewn on to make small cafe curtains - or can be tied on with small pieces of ribbon sewn onto the linen panel.


This was my purchase from an afternoon at the brocante in Cahors...a basket woven canteen, a set of old bone handles knives, a handful of old silver thimbles, a half a dozen porcelain medicinal pots, an early 20th century curtain panel and a piece of filet...hand tied linen fabric used for lace curtains.  Everything spoke to me - the color, the history and the age...sometimes a photograph is worth a thousand ideas....


Old string...linen, twine, cotton, hemp.  I have no idea why...but I love old string collections - especially those that come with a few handmade tools.


Early samplers. These are getting harder to find and they can be quite pricey - but every once in a while you will come upon a box of linens with an old sampler hidden at the bottom of the basket.  These small pieces of history show the handiwork of young French school girls.  The missing W always gives away the samplers age.


Millinery treasures...all found at the old hat factory we have been visiting for years.  Although the owner, Guy, passed away two summers ago, we still pop by to say hello to his wife and to dig through one of the old hat making rooms - each one filled with the trims, flowers and ribbons that decorated the hats nearly a century ago!


Hemp and linen tea towels - hands down - the first thing I pick up at the flea market in the morning.  One can never have too many linen tea towels stacked up in every room of their home...or in the closets or armoires.  I like the old madder striped towels - they are the essence of France for me and no good flea market trip is complete without finding at least one old tea towel!


Old glass buttons...by the bucketful!  I pick up as many old buttons as I can to make button bracelets with.  These simple bracelets, filled with a mixture of decorative, military and baby buttons are one of my favorite things to make when I return home from France.  

So, as you can see...my treasures, the small bits and pieces I look for, are really quite simple.  Nothing takes up too much room in my suitcase, yet everything is filled with the history of France.  What do you look for at the flea markets?  Is there anything you would like me to look for?  Leave me a message and I will keep my eye out for you...meanwhile I will try to blog my way through France so you can see all of our adventures!

A bientot!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Spring Ledger - Finally!


Bonjour!

We are a bit late in getting out our Spring Ledger this year...so much going on around here sometimes the time slips away!  Hope you are all enjoying warmer months!

This June our new collection of Sizzix dies, The Collector, will be available at all good paper crafting and scrapbooking stores - look for steel rule dies, thinlets, and rubber stamps
 to help you organize all of your notions.


Molly will be teaching a series of paper workshops, beginning with Sizzix 101 on Saturday, May 9th, to introduce all of our local students to the new collection.  If you have never rolled out a steel rule die, or if you are an avid paper crafter - you will
love seeing our new dies in action!  Paper fans, labels, thread winders and tags are all on the agenda...


SIGN UP HERE FOR SIZZIX 101 WORKSHOP

We're off to France in June to host our yearly Chateau Getaway.  We are already planning our 2016 trips to France which will include stitching, quilting, jewelry making, weaving
and natural dyeing...all surrounded by the beautiful sunflower fields in the South of France.  Email us at notions@frenchgeneral.com if you would like to be put on our early notice list.


And finally, be sure to Save the Date for our upcoming Art of Craft event next January 20th-24th, 2016 to be held in the historical town of Santa Paula... just an hour north of Los Angeles.  After out-growing our space at French General, we decided to take our event on the road!  Art of Craft will be filled with day long workshops where you will have the chance to explore historical crafts with.....with lots of fun surprises and guests!  Sign ups open in June!


Have a wonderful, creative Spring!

Merci-

Kaari

Thursday, April 02, 2015

A Beautiful Opportunity Quilt

It has been some time since I have written on the blog...but I thought it's time to jump back in and write about this beautiful opportunity quilt that was made by the Napa Valley Quilters.  The pattern was adapted from our pattern, Le Bouquet Francais, and the fabrics are from the same collection released by Moda last Spring 2014.
This is called an opportunity quilt, because you actually have the opportunity to own this quilt by purchasing a raffle ticket for $1!  How amazing is that?  We have this beauty on display at French General until the end of April - please come by and see the beautiful piecing, applique, quilting and binding work!
You can purchase raffle tickets at French General during the month of April by coming in to the shop or calling us at 323 668-0488; or you can visit the Napa Valley Quilt site and purchase a raffle ticket online by clicking here.
And if you are the ambitious type, you can also purchase the pattern for this quilt - we have them in stock at French General.

Ok - I'm back in, I have written on the blog!  I will continue to do so!

Merci!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Holiday Round-About 2014

Snow Globe Ornament by Molly Meng

Fabric Mistletoe by Robert Mahar

Stitched Holiday Apron by Tyn Atol

Holiday Earrings by Kaari Meng

It's that time of the year again...our annual Holiday Round-About is fast approaching!  Join us Saturday, December 6th from 10-4pm when we put on a full day of crafting and cheer!  Teachers include Molly Meng, Robert Mahar, Tyn Atol and myself...we each teach an hour and a half workshop and at the end of the day you have created a snow globe ornament, made a mistletoe out of fabric, stitched a holiday apron and made up a beautiful pair of sparkly earrings!  It's a bit fast and furious but it's four workshops for the price of one...our gift to you this holiday season!  Come join in the festivities, have some holiday proseco and a cookie or two...you deserve it! 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Speaking of Michele Muska....




A couple of days ago I wrote about Michele Muska's new book, Quilting the New Classics, which is a beauty and if you are a quilter, a must have!  What I forgot to mention is that Michele, visiting from New York,  will be teaching an upcoming workshop at French General in November.  

Michele, who works for Simplicity, will be bringing out a bunch of Simplicity's 12-Needle Felting Machines and teaching us how to create a beautiful velvet and silk cuff bracelet.  

If you have never seen one of these machines at work, check out this video on You Tube to see the magic happen!  

This will be a fun workshop filled with lots of different techniques that Michele has learned while working in the fibre and craft industry for the past twenty years.  

Sign up here to take part in this special workshop on Saturday, November 8th and try your hand at the needle felting machine...it will open your mind to a whole new way of creating with fabric!



Friday, October 24, 2014

Quilting: The New Classics


It only seems appropriate that as I sit here in Houston, getting ready for Quilt Market to begin, I tell you about a beautiful new book that was just released by my friend Michele Muska.  Quilting - The New Classics is a practical and inspirational book that covers 20 traditional quilt designs as well as 20 contemporary designs based on traditional designs!  I was excited to be asked to design and make a traditional nine patch quilt...and lucky that I have a team of quilters and sewers behind me so I could actually turn it in!  To kick off the release of this cool new book, we are having a blog hop...so you can jump around and meet each of the designers.  I wish I could show you a picture of the quilt we made, using our La Belle Fleur collection....but that will have to be on Instagram later...I can only manage so many technical connections at once!

Follow along the hop below to see all of the beautiful quilts....I am sure they will inspire you to try your own classic or modern design!

Follow us @frenchgeneral to see lots more quilt inspiration from Houston!


*Oct. 20th Michele Muska www.lolarae.com/blog.html

*Oct. 21st Leslie Jenison  www.leslietuckerjenison.blogspot.com

*Oct. 22nd Janneken Smucker   www.janneken.org/category/blog

*Oct. 23rd Valerie Bothell  www.pinkbunnykansas.blogspot.com

*Oct. 24th Kaari Meng  www.frenchgeneral.blogspot.com

*Oct. 25th Elisa Sims Albury  www.stitchoutsidetheditch.com

*Oct. 26th Heather Jones  www.oliveandollie.com

Oct. 27th Victoria Findlay Wolfe www.bumblebeansinc.blogspot.com

Oct. 28th Amy Smart  www.diaryofaquilter.com

Oct. 29th Jackie Kunkel www.cvquiltworks.com/blogs/blog

Oct. 30th Pat Sloan www.blog.patsloan.com

Oct. 31st *Shelly Pagliai  www.prairiemoonquilts.com/?page_id=62

Nov. 1st Allie Aller www.alliesinstitches.blogspot.com

Nov. 2nd Kristin Omdahl  www.styledbykristin.com

*Nov. 3rd Jacquie Gering www.tallgrassprairiestudio.blogspot.com

*Nov. 3rd Pat Sloan 4:00pm eastern time   www.toginet.com/shows/americanpatchworkandquiltingradio

“The Voice of Quilting” www.creativetalknetwork.com/
Patchwork and Quilting radio show
www.allpeoplequilt.com/magazines-more/quilting-podcast

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Art of Craft 2015


I can't believe it's that time of year again...Art of Craft is just around the corner...well around the Thanksgiving, Holiday and New Year corner!  We are excited to announce our annual creative event has been scheduled for January 9th, 10th and 11th, 2015.  Filled with some of the most creative teachers around, our Art of Craft event features three days of workshops and lots of old and new friends!


Never taken a flower making class from Arlene Baker?  Now's you chance...Arlene is the best at what she does...making beautiful millinery flowers!  On Friday, Arlene kicks off our event by teaching a beautiful hand-wired burlap flower.  Arlene's techniques and instructions will allow you to continue making flowers and experimenting with all sorts of materials...including leather, denim and wool!


Friday evening we welcome one of my favorite friends, Monica Medeiros, from Port Costa, California. Monica is not only a talented typesetter and printer, but has amazing typography skills and will be teaching a chalkboard typography class.  Each student will receive their own framed chalkboard and choose an inspirational quote that will be scripted on the board.



Saturday morning, we start bright and early with a breakfast of Bread Lounge croissants and coffee, and then jump right in to Robert Mahar's workshop.  Robert, one of our resident crafters, will be teaching a pretty tableau using early bird trading cards printed on linen and demonstrating how to make millinery botanical leaves and stems.


Jenny Hart returns to Art of Craft to teach her craft, creative embroidery!  Saturday afternoon, after lunch, Jenny breaks down the simple task of learning how to put needle to thread and making small works of art.  Inspired by the Proust questionnaire, Jenny has designed this embroidery sampler and will teach you how to transfer your favorite color onto the canvas.


Old friend and artist, Wendy Addison joins us for the very first time this year, Sunday morning, to teach her hand-dipped wax flower crown.  Made to look like an antique French wedding crown, Wendy will bring all sorts of vintage millinery which will be dipped into wax and then formed into a beautiful crown.  Silk ribbon streamers will add the finishing touch to the headpieces which can be worn or hung.


It wouldn't be an Art of Craft without Molly Meng finishing up the workshops on Sunday afternoon!  After lunch, Molly will reintroduce us to her world of miniature shrines and collage techniques.  Filled with lots of old ephemera and millinery, students will design a small world which will be preserved for years to come under the bell jar.

Sign ups are limited to twenty-five students per class.  Friday night we serve proseco and snacks,  and both Saturday and Sunday we serve breakfast and lunch.  Sunday evening, we throw our annual Art of Craft Soiree from 6-9pm and all students are invited back for a creative craft gathering with friends and artists that are visiting town for the CHA show.  




Thursday, September 18, 2014

All Good Things....


Yes, it's true, all good things must come to an end...and so we announcing the end of our monthly Botanical Charm Bracelet Club.  Next month, October will be the last month to sign up for this bracelet club, which will finish October 2015.   But never fear...we are not one to sit on our laurels...we have two brand new monthly clubs coming in the New Year!  Get ready for a monthly fabric club and a monthly jewelry club!  Cause it's always fun to get a little something-something in the mail!
Sign up here for the Botanical Charm Bracelet Club and receive a beautiful bracelet kit every month for six months or a year!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Little Late to the Party!


I apologize for the delay in posting the Moda Love Tour Winners!  I loved reading about what you LOVE about quilting...thank you!  Since I am late...I will send out fabric to twice as many winners!  And the winners are....

Pat Addler
Kathy Gates
Beanstalk
Michele Deedy
Diane Remmer
Barbara Woods
Becky Babcock
Tina McNamara

Please send me your address to notions@frenchgeneral.com and I will send you some beautiful new fabric to start working with!  Be sure to write BLOG WINNER in the subject line of the email.

MERCI!

Monday, September 08, 2014

Moda LOVE Blog Tour


Welcome to the LOVE tour!  This is Moda's annual September blog hop featuring all of their designers and today is the French General day!



We are excited to launch our upcoming collection, Rue Indienne... in stores any day now!  Here is a sneak peek at our collection of patterns for Rue Indienne, designed and sewn by our fabulous quilting team, including Penny, Cheryl, Deb and Kim...


When did you fall in LOVE with quilting/ textiles? 

I fell in love with textiles first!  Twenty years ago, I was traveling in the South of France and started seeing the linen sheets and old linen floral curtain panels at the flea markets.  There were piles of old fabric - and I started buying as much as I could carry back to the car. I had no idea that textiles would change my life forever and lead me down a path of collecting 18th and 19th century fabric that would eventually become the basis for our fabric collection with Moda.

Last year I worked on Michele Muska's new book, Quilting the New Classics, and was determined to learn to quilt!  I started with a sampler quilt but got hung up on the flying geese block!  Then I tried a jelly roll quilt and found that I could piece with my eyes closed...well almost!  I haven't quilted anything since but I assure you, I have a garage full of fabric and someday, someday, I will be quilting in my spare time!



 What fuels you to create? 

Besides inventing new Jelly Belly combinations, (which is the fastest way to make me feel sick - but I still love it!) my creativity is fueled by color, texture and anything old and used.  When I feel totally depleted and lacking of any inspiration, I find myself going back to my collection of old quilts and fabric and I always seem to find something I had missed...a small repair or stitched initials or an additional fabric hidden under an old quilt...it's these little details that feed me and inspire me.  



What is the best part of your design process?

The best part of my design process is working with the people I work with...my husband JZ, the great staff at FG, the design team at Moda and the friends I have made in the quilting industry.  I never imagined I would become part of such a creative group...and I love it!




I LOVE the color......

I think we all know my favorite color...it starts with an R and ends with a D!




When I teach classes or workshops, I LOVE.....

Learning something new from my students!  I have taught our Indigo Workshop dozens of times, but I still love it when a student comes up with a new design technique or dyes a fabric that makes the indigo look totally modern and fresh...there is always something new to learn and teaching workshops is the best way to learn!


This project features a layer cake, charm pack or mini charm, but what is your all time favorite moda precut?

My all time favorite precut is the mini charm!  We are working on our upcoming 2015 Mini Charm Monthly Club which will feature a mini charm and a monthly project...thanks to one of my favorite quilters and FG employee, Amy!  More details to come in December!


Here is the pattern for the layer cake quilt from Moda:
http://www.unitednotions.com/Moda-Love-Layer-Cake-Quilt.pdf

And finally....leave us a note about what you LOVE about quilting...we will pick a handful of winners and send out some of our new Rue Indienne precuts!  Merci!

Be sure to visit all of the Moda designers on the tour:


SEPTEMBER 8, 2014
April Rosenthal – http://www.aprilrosenthal.com/
French General – http://frenchgeneral.blogspot.com/
Minick and Simpson – http://minickandsimpson.blogspot.com/

SEPTEMBER 9, 2014
Cotton Way – http://cottonway.blogspot.com/
Sandy Gervais – http://piecesfrommyheart-sgervais.blogspot.com/
Primitive Gatherings – http://lisabongean.wordpress.com/

SEPTEMBER 10, 2014
Bunny Hill – http://bunnyhillblog.com/
Deb Strain -  http://debstrain.blogspot.com/
Kansas Troubles – http://kansastroublesquilters-lynne.blogspot.com/

SEPTEMBER 11, 2014
Kathy Schmitz – http://kathyschmitzstudio.blogspot.com/
Laundry Basket Quilts – http://www.laundrybasketquilts.com/blog/index.php
Zen Chic – http://www.farbstoff-bridge.blogspot.com

SEPTEMBER 12, 2014
Me and My Sister Designs – http://meandmysisterdesigns.com/blog/
Jan Patek – http://janpatek.blogspot.com/
Sweetwater – http://sweetwater.typepad.com/makelifesweet

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Downtown Digging in Los Angeles


For the past thirty five (!) years, I have been digging for gold in downtown Los Angeles.  Whether I am looking for old beads, feathers or buckles I am surprised to learn there are still some wonderful old vendors that have shops filled with vintage and new treasures.  I have gotten to know some of these dealers over the years and have come to rely on many of them when I need a new batch of inspiration for designing jewelry, fabric and ribbon.  
For those of us not going back to school this September, I thought we should go on a little tour of downtown Los Angeles!  I've designed a day of exploring some of my very favorite vendors who sell some of the most beautiful supplies for sewing and crafting.  We will explore my favorite source for Liberty fabrics, an old millinery shop where you can still find hand-curled feathers, and of course, drop in to some of my regular bead and button suppliers.  The tour includes a petite breakfast at French General in the morning, and afterwards we will drive the 15 minutes to downtown LA and start our walking tour.  Lunch at the Ace Hotel and then back to the district for more shopping...be sure to wear your digging clothes and I'll bring the hand wipes!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Home from France

Every summer, Mogull, Molly, Mom and I travel to France to spend four weeks in a beautifully rural area just north of Toulouse.  We rent a 17th century chateau and fill it up with friends from near and far to craft, eat amazing food prepared by the fabulous chef Charlotte and visit local flea markets and farmer's markets.  Every summer I am amazed at how we always see something new, learn something different and uncover a bit about France that was hidden for years.
Here is a peek into what we learned this past summer...

Sitting in the Cafe de la Halle in St. Antonin is the best place for a morning check in!

Mr. Garcia still has some treasures hidden in his garage!

Sometimes you get lucky and stay in a grand house with a laundry room the size of a small house!

You never know what you will find in a 50 lb. box of old linen....

There are still hats to be found in Septfonds!

Sometimes it's just better to buy the whole box of cafe curtain rings!

There are way too many beautiful baskets at the flea markets in France....

It's always good to be in France with friends....

Saltwaters are the best traveling shoes!

Farewell dinners are good, but the women that come on our Chateau Getaway are the best!

Beautifully laundered linen looks better in an old armoire....

Stitching in a cafe in Montpezat, drinking a grand creme, makes the day fly by!

Learning to weave on a handmade tapestry loom is addicting!

 Woad dyeing ever year, for the past six years, doesn't get old!

Early morning walks through the sunflower fields is the best way to start a day!

Finding cornichons at the market and learning how to pickle them with our Chef Charlotte is pretty cool!

Drinking wine and eating local cheese with our sommelier, Laurent and his beautiful assistant, Flora is the best dinner of the week!

Beautiful scraps look even better when framed in old hoops!

Buying old linen skeins at the Cahors market was worth every euro!

The sunflowers do pop once it gets hot enough!

Designing an embroidery map of the area we visit was a natural, finishing it...priceless!

Finding a box of old spools at the vide grenier, in the pouring rain, was my best find ever!

Artichokes do flower!

Antique toiles can still be found in France...for a pretty penny!

Having my mom, Kick and daughter, Sofia on our Chateau Getaway trips makes it all worth while!