Monday, September 29, 2008

Linen Properties

Linen naturally suppresses live pathogenic microflora, bacteria and fungi.
Linen is woven from the fibers of the flax plant and is a completely natural product. Linen fiber is totally biodegradable and recyclable.
Flax excellently absorbs superfluous moisture providing optimum heat exchange and enhanced comfort.
The use of linen does not cause any allergies and eliminates many kinds of irritations on the skin.
Linen favorably influences your cardio-vascular, nervous and muscular systems.
Linen has massaging properties owing to the microscopic breaks which the fabric possesses. It has a light massaging effect, favorably stimulating blood-flow and promoting relaxation.
Linen reduces static electricity creating a micro climate of enhanced comfort.
Linen is one of the world's oldest fabrics. Mummies have been found wrapped in linen shrouds dating as far back as 4500 B.C.
Flax yarns and fabrics increase about 20% in strength on wetting. Linen is also therefor stronger when being washed, resulting in greater longevity than, for example, cotton.
Linen is effective in dealing with inflammatory conditions, reducing fever and regulating air ventilation, and is also helpful in the treatment of some neurological ailments.
Next, I'll tell you all about the hemp fiber - which is even more amazing!

Friday, September 26, 2008

John Derian deux

Yesterday, as I browsed through one of my favorite stores I was stopped dead in my tracks when I saw this:
And then I saw this:
Finally - I read this: " Inspired by the charm and elegance of vintage prints, New York designer John Derian brings the allure of antiques to the modern home. Adorned with images of vintage flora and fauna, botanical prints and antique typography, these elegant pieces are as collectible as they are affordable. Only at Target. Only for a limited time."
Hot Damn - John Derian at Target.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Samples and Remnants

This morning when I got to work, there was a box from Bath waiting for me. A box from Bath means a collection of scraps from Elizabeth Baer! The box was filled with a collection of over 150 scraps of 19th century ticking - just a tiny cutting of each, enough for me to see the pattern.This probably wouldn't suffice for most people, but what's fascinating to me is the quantity of different stripes that were woven during the 19th century. The shading, color and pattern are all still vibrant and clear. Elizabeth wrote in her enclosed letter..."These tickings come from a very large feather and down reclamation factory in Tours, France (since closed after the death of the proprietor) and they were largely imported from outside of France for the feathers the beds contained and the covers were sold in bulk, by weight, to rag merchants for cleaning machinery."
Elizabeth also sent me a bundle of early indigo remnants. Hand-blocked in France during the 18th century, these fabrics are hanging on by a thread - but you can still see the beauty of the pattern in each one. Most of these tiny pieces are from an old bouti quilt.My favorite scraps were hidden at the very bottom of the old piece of a madder blocked print. In 1854 a French textile historian wrote, "One of the most beautiful results obtained from madder was the red ground merino on which botch were printed in black. It was marketed in 1810 by Nicolas Koechlin et Freeres." (Merino refers to a type of cotton fabric often used for Turkey red printing. Botch=hodgepodge?)
Did you say you wanted to learn about textiles?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Design in Dallas

I took a quick trip to Dallas last week and visited Moda and all of the fabulous people that organize and design the products and fabric. After being led on the warehouse tour by the owner and design director, I was let loose in their document textile room and told to just pick out whatever inspired me - anything that I liked and would like to see incorporated into the new French General collection. I had to explain to them that I was a libra and I could barely pick out an ice cream flavor at 31 they gave me some time to ponder! By the end of the day, I had picked out some of my favorites and added them to scraps I had brought along - we tweaked the sizes and colors a bit and before I knew it, the collection appeared before my eyes. Lots of small, beautiful French florals and stripes with red and white all over - the collection is very much French General and very sweet. More to come.....

Friday, September 19, 2008

Lucky Winners

Sofia - sick in bed with a bad cold - helped me write out all the names and then drew two out of the hat - Jennifer and Diana are the lucky winners of a copy of Home Sewn, a stationery box and a sticker book. Please send me your information - there was no city or details attached to either name - and we will ship your boxes off today!
Thank you for all of the nice comments about French General - I will learn to take criticism with a grain of salt!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Side Note.....

Ouch (or ooch). I just read the first review of Home Sewn on - seems like the very first person to review it, didn't like it - great. Although the writer did give me a compliment when she wrote, "Apparently these fabrics and antiques are for those people who like to collect unusual items." Duh. Anyway, just for the heck of it, now I am going to give away 2 book sets and hope someone out there likes it! So...back to the drawing - since I am breaking the first rule, and just to see if you are reading... to even out the score, throw your name into the hat again - now you'll have two chances to win!! I'll get critic...and your little dog too!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Home Sewn

The boxes of books have finally arrived! Soon, our new book will be available everywhere, including To kick off this grand occasion, we thought we would give away a copy of Home Sewn, along with our new box of stationery and our label and sticker book. So if your game, and would like to have your name thrown into the hat, please leave us a comment below and we will draw a lucky winner on Friday, September 19th. Bonne chance!
I'll also be out and about signing books in the coming months - a signing at Quilt Market in Houston in October, a trip to New York in November to sign at Tinsel Trading, and finally a holiday event at French General in December. Sew on!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

New York

Seven years ago, we lived on Charlton Street in New York, just blocks north of Canal Street. Sofia was in pre-school, Jon was on his way to work on Fifth Avenue and I was getting ready to walk over to French General on Crosby Street. Looking out the window from the 11th floor, I realized something had happened downtown. Jon and Sofia returned within the hour and we all spent the day looking out our windows facing the southern tip of Manhattan. Around 4:00 in the afternoon I remember seeing hundreds and hundreds of pick-up trucks headed south on 6th Avenue. We finally left our apartment and walked towards Canal Street - Sofia riding on Jon's shoulders. We were overwhelmed by the amount of missing person flyers, the dust and debris traveling through the streets, and the flag's that were immediately being flown everywhere. By midnight that night, the volunteer trucks began driving south towards Tribeca. For weeks afterwards, we would hear an ambulance screaming up 6th Avenue towards St. Vincent's Hospital, and we always said a silent prayer that someone had survived. Our lives in New York changed that day, as it did for every person that lived on the island. Through the loss, New York became a compassionate neighborhood community. I will always be grateful for living in New York those days and years afterwards, it taught me everything I needed to know about life.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Chateau Getaway

Thinking about my escapes...and how I haven't taken one me thinking about about renting a chateau in the South of France. I'd let the rooms to women who wanted to go and hunt for treasures in Toulouse, Septfonds and Beziers. All meals would be prepared by a private cook. Each morning we would head out to the flea markets or brocantes for the early part of the day. The afternoons would be free time for people to wander the grounds, visit a vineyard, or take a craft class. I'm thinking about it....anyone interested?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

On the Prairie

Years ago, I realized that what I really wanted to be was a cowgirl. So my friend Helen and I packed up our boots, our stetsons, our vintage pearl snap shirts and headed out to Montana. I had read about the Horse Prairie Ranch, a working cattle and guest ranch just outside of Dillon, and wanted to experience, firsthand, the life of a cowgirl.
We landed in Butte, Montana - which I immediately fell in love with. In its heyday between the late 19th century and about 1920, it was one of the largest and most notorious copper boom towns in the American West, home to hundreds of saloons and a famous red-light district. Butte is the only city in the United States where possession and consumption of open containers of alcoholic beverages are allowed on the street - bizarre but true.
By the third day in Butte, we had been to the rodeo, picked through all of the antique shops and spent some quality time at the M and M Saloon. Our cowboy escort picked us up and drove us out to the ranch, first making a stop at the local package store - since the ranch was dry and he figured we would need some "medicine" for the days ahead. He knew us well.
Once there, we were given our cabin, unpacked our "ranch" wear and were served a four-star meal cooked up by the head chef. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I slept soundly in my cabin, only to be awakened by a cowboy bringing the horses in at 5am. By 6am we had been assigned a horse for the week - I was given Dillon, a rain poncho and a packed lunch. For the next eight hours, with the help of two ranch hands and four cowboys - five of us city slickers led, herded and contained over 2,000 head of cattle. Eight hours later we returned to the ranch - I was exhausted, sore and rejuvenated. A little bottle of arnica did wonders, not to mention the scotch.
For the next six days we followed the same routine, up at the crack of dawn and out to work driving the cattle. Every once in a while, all of the cowboys would round up the cows and pause for about 45 minutes. I had no idea what the pause was for - but I began to refer to it as the cowboy pause - the time when everyone just sat on their horse and took in the scenery for a while. It turned out, this pause was actually a pause for the cattle as well - they were giving them all a chance to stop and have a drink out of the local wells. After a bit of relaxation, we would all pull our hats back down and continue the move towards the next field where we would leave the cattle for the night.
I returned the following summer, this time bringing Molly with me. I thought I would continue to visit every summer - but the Horse Prairie Ranch stopped inviting guests - they decided to turn it into a family home and hire a staff to drive the cattle between the lands. I became friends with the owners and hope that someday they invite me back for a cattle drive - just to get back into the saddle and see the big sky. If you have this inner yearning, and not all of us do, but if you do - read more about the Horse Prairie Ranch on Mr. Duncan's blog.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Farmer's Market

Sofia and I spent some time at our local farmer's market in Hollywood on Sunday. We are so lucky to have this market right in the middle of a sprawling city - and by the look of the crowds - it seems that everyone in Hollywood would agree with me! We scooped up all sorts of fresh vegetables including corn, beets, red onions and potatoes. We also found some Cavaillon melons - which are hard to come by outside of France. There is even a big melon festival that takes place in July in Cavaillon: "Melon en FĂȘtes". Try serving your melon with a bit of port poured into each half for a dessert, or wrap each piece of melon with a piece of prosciutto - if you can't find a Cavaillon melon, our cantaloupe works just as well.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Old Homes

I have always loved old homes, the older the better.  This past weekend, we spent our days shooting our entertaining book in an old house here in Southern California.  Built in 1912, the Chateau Bradbury is an elegant estate that has been lovingly restored by the current owner.  
Besides a small ant invasion, a crazy house cat named Spot, and no electricity in the kitchen....all went surprisingly well.  We propped, dressed and primped five different tables complete with food, linens and people.  By the end of the weekend, we were completely exhausted and satisfied that a good job was done by all.  
Thank you mom, dad, Molly, Ryan, Michael, John, Jody, Brian, Keith, Gracie, Sofia and Jon.  I learned it takes a family to shoot a book!