Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Paper and Labels and Tags...Oh My!

Back in the good old days, Molly and I used to run off to Paris and dig through basements, drink wine with French pickers and end up in back stockrooms - where we had no business being. By the end of our week running around, we would fill our suitcases with bundles of old paper, notebooks, labels and other bits of French ephemera and hope we could get through customs with it all!
The shelves of French General were stocked with all of our treasures - the gold we dug out of the flea markets and vide greniers were offered for sale....well, most of it anyways! Much of the old paper stock ended up in our private collections - the paper archives - if you will. Old Deyrolle notebooks, hat labels from the mid-18th century and large rubber stamps from a botanical press - all were deemed to precious to let go of - so we hoarded and stashed these scraps for years.

What could come out of all of this? Well a stationery line for sure and then perhaps a series of paper workshops - enter Molly Meng! For the past six years, Molly has been designing artwork and a line of stationery using all of the old bits she has been collecting for years - each little piece has found a home in one of her small works of wonder - where everything is layered and meaningful.

Molly has taught at French General before - and she's coming back - this time bringing all sorts of old scraps to teach a Concertina Workshop - an accordion book that is filled with beautiful old bits of history that will tell individual stories. If you love old paper and French words and scraps that tell about times gone by, then you will love this workshop. For more information and to sign up, visit us here.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Open Craft Day

For a while now, we have been throwing around the idea of having an open craft day at French General - a day where local crafters could come and bring whatever they are working on and share some time with like-minded people. So, if you live nearby, or happen to be visiting, grab your knitting needles, jewelry pliers or sketchbook and pop in for a bit of a crafting bee this Thursday, March 31st from 11-4. Sign up to rsvp - space is limited.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mrs. Rose and her 651 Quilts

One of the most exciting quilt shows to come around is here - well actually at the Armory in New York City. Mrs. Rose slowly collected hundreds of red and white quilts over the past twenty years. With a photographic memory, she has bought what she has loved and never repeated the same pattern twice. For her birthday, her husband has given her and the the rest of us a gift - an exhibition of 651 quilts to be hung at the Park Avenue Armory and open to the public for six days - free of charge - the largest exhibition of quilts ever held in Manhattan. By narrowing the focus of the show to a specific color combination, the curators encourage the viewer to focus on the design and pattern of each quilt. See the hanging of the show here.

According to the New York Times, it was Mrs. Rose who suggested the title of the exhibition: “Infinite Variety: Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts.” She said the inspiration was a line from Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra:
Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite variety …

So the quilts’ appeal is that they have retained their “infinite variety.” They have not turned “stale” with age.

To go or not to go - that is the question.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Flowers for Japan

For the past eleven days, I have found myself at the kitchen table reading the newspaper and tearing up before I am able to finish yet another article about the tragedy in Japan. I have always had an affinity for Japan and the Japanese people - especially the Japanese artists - who seem to be such a rich part of the Japanese culture. My second job, after working at the museum, was event planning at the New York office of the Japanese advertising company, Dentsu. With my Japanese office mates, I learned to eat sushi, drink saki, fold origami and appreciate simplicity.
Years later, French General was discovered when we were in a little shop on Crosby Street - almost in the middle of nowhere - when Japanese journalists would come in and be in awe of what we were doing. They would go back to Japan and publish beautifully photographed articles saying something flowery about the shop.
Since joining the Moda team a couple of years ago, my fabrics have all been drawn and printed in Japan by a talented group of artists at the fabric mill. So, I am connected to Japan, through friends and experience, even though I have never visited the country.

After talking with some Japanese friends this week, I realized I had to design something that would help raise funds for a family in need. Flowers for Japan is a bracelet kit which features a tribute to the Japanese cherry blossom trees. Every penny of every bracelet kit sold will go towards helping people that have lost almost everything - except their dignity. I hope you agree with me that we can each do something in our own small way - if you choose to purchase the Flowers for Japan Kit - we are doing it together.
To read more and to purchase one of fifty signed bracelet kits - please visit us at

Friday, March 18, 2011

Pom Pom de Paris Quilt

Our new collection with Moda, Pom Pom de Paris, is arriving in quilt shops this week - all a flutter with soft pink florals, old yellow birds and our classic red rural prints. I'm loving this new line - it's soft and fresh and different. With the help of Penny Tucker and Debbie Thorton, we've designed a classic quilt to accompany the line - if you want to get a head start on fabric needed for the Pom Pom de Paris quilt, here's a little cheat sheet for fabric requirements. Our Pom Pom de Paris quilt pattern will be available soon - at your favorite quilt store or from

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Blue Attitude

I was so excited to walk into our local bookstore, Skylight Books, and see Denise Lambert and her woad workshop in the current issue of Cote Sud. Ever since meeting Denise a few years ago, I knew that she was onto something special - reviving a centuries old dying technique and pushing the boundaries with what woad could dye. The article mentions the current "Blue Attitude" and how it's become all the rage in France to dye with natural plant dyes. I couldn't agree with Cote Sud more!
We still have a few spots left in our Woad Workshop on Saturday, April 9th. If you are looking to learn from a master (which is something few people ever get a chance to do) and explore an arts and craft workshop with a group of like-minded women, please consider joining us on this special day. Not only will you go home with your arms full of French Blue textiles, you will leave with your soul filled with the essence of France - a rare treat.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

My Kind of Fashion

This past weekend, Sofia and I took a field trip to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art - or LACMA as it's known to Angeleno's. For months I have been wanting to see the show Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail 1700-1915, an exhibition that traces fashions aesthetic and technical development from the Age of Enlightenment through World War 1, through transformations of the fashionable silhouette and evolutions in textiles, techniques and trimmings. The details of the show were amazing - all highlighted by simple mannequins strewn about in a maze with what looked to be shipping containers stacked up behind the displays. Each mannequin wore a simple white paper wig which added to the beauty of the clothing by not taking away focus from the textiles. After a bit of digging on-line, I found out how the wigs were made - which is something I am sure I will have to try out for Sofia next Halloween!
A fascinating textile show - not to be missed!
Fashioning Fashion at LACMA in the Resnick Pavilion through March 27th 2011.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

So Many Gardens....

So many pretty gardens and ideas of gardens to to choose just one? I asked Sofia to choose a number between 1 and 99 and her number was 6! Jemellia - you lucky gal - I know you will enjoy every Botanical Charm Kit and I expect to see you wearing them all next time we run into each other! Please send me your address and we will start you off with our first kit, The Woad Garden. Thank you everyone for playing along - I loved hearing about your favorite gardens.

A few of my favorite gardens...

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Wonderful Woad World

With a little help from our friends, we have been able to bring the cost of our Woad Workshop down. I am really excited, because hopefully now, more of you will get to experience this magical workshop! Get ready to be amazed as you learn the ancient craft of dying with woad - a simple weed grown in the South of France - that produces the most amazing French blue color. Come join us for the day and bring anything you would like to dye - we'll also be supplying everyone with a large scarf for you to practice your new craft.
For more information and to sign up, please visit us at French General.