Friday, September 28, 2012

Wonderful Wooly Workshop!

Last year at the Craft and Hobby Show in Long Beach, I taught a paper arts class to a group of 75 (!) paper lovers.  At the end of the class, a woman came up to me and asked if I would please take a look at her craft - which was a box full of needle-felted animals...some of the most wonderful, expressive animals I have ever seen!  I was blown away by Evelyn Neily's slight of hand and her exquisite attention to detail. After tearing up a bit, (that's how moving her animals are!) I immediately asked her if she would come to teach a needle felting workshop at French General.
Next Saturday, October 6th, Evelyn is finally coming to teach her wonderful wooly sheep workshop...she will also be bringing her barnyard of animals to inspire and offer up for sale.  If you have ever wondered about needle felting or been interested in creating soft sculpture animals...this is the class for you!  To sign up for an afternoon of creativity and wool loving, please visit the French General workshop don't be sheepish!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A No is Never a No Until it's a No....or The Way I Came to Design for Fabricut

This is a very long on only if you want to know how I came to design a line of interior fabric.....
A couple of years ago in France, a friend of mine asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up.  I kinda looked at her blankly - thinking "Aren't I already doing what I want to do?" And then she said - "What else, what else do you want to do?"  I thought about it for a minute and then decided that what I really wanted to do was furnish a hotel with all sorts of wonderful French-inspired fabrics.  She looked a little startled and said "Well you can't design the interior of a hotel without having a line of interior fabrics."  Oh - is that it, I thought, well then, I guess I need to design a line of interior fabrics.  She continued to tell me about a friend of hers that had done some research into fabric companies and had settled on what she thought was the best in the business.  That sounded good enough for me.  When I returned from France, I packed up a box that represented the French General look - I included our books, swatches from our Moda collections, a collage of my favorite things and a press book - with clippings of French General from the past 15 years.  I looked up the address of the interior fabric company, I sent off the box and then I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  After about a month, I was getting a little tired of waiting and decided the fabric company must not be interested - other wise they would have contacted me - in a timely manner.
I was just about to give up all hope when I went off to a creative gathering and heard Jo Packham give a talk about her history of her work and the stumbling blocks she encountered along the way to her success.  She told a story about pitching a story to someone, and waiting for months and months for an answer - positive or negative - just waiting for an answer.  Eventually she got on the phone and somehow got the answer she wanted. The moral of her story was: a no is never a no until it's a no.  What?  I had no idea what that meant.
After I returned home from the creative event, I was still waiting to hear from the fabric company, but then it hit me - I actually hadn't been told no yet...I just hadn't heard anything yet, so maybe the answer was yes.  I emailed the president of the company and asked if he was interested in carrying a French General line of interior fabric.   To my surprise, he called the shop that afternoon and left a message saying "Sorry for the delay, I've been swamped with other projects.  Yes, we are very interested.  Call me."
And so I called him back, a couple of days later, and eventually, we began work on a project that has taken up the better part of the last two years.  I have worked with a couple of wonderful designers from the company, who helped take the French General look and lifestyle and interpret it into a line of home (and hotel??) decorating fabrics.  We are getting ready now to introduce it to showrooms and reps and come January 2013 it will be available throughout the United States at fabric and home decorating stores.
Here's a little look-see into our collection of home fabrics for Fabricut - a collection printed on linen and cotton and filled with beautiful 18th century French florals, stripes, wovens and embroideries.  We have stayed true to our palette, offering three groups of colors: rouge, bleu and bisque.  We've also designed a coordinating collection of trim - pom poms, tassels, fringe and gimps - all out of dusty, soft natural materials and colors.  I hope you enjoy the coming collection as much as we have enjoyed designing it!




Trim Line

And that's how it all began - two years ago when I decided I wanted to decorate a hotel when I grew up -  now I just have to find a hotel in need of being decorated!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Winners from the Woad Field!

Today we are hosting our annual Woad Workshop in Elysian Park out here in Los Angeles...but I wanted to announce a couple of lucky winners from our September Moda Blog Hop....

Marybeth from Youngstown, Ohio
Debbie, who grew up in Rancho Palos Verdes!
Sewing in CT, from New York City
Ellen from Portland, Oregon
Grandma Rita from Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Rita from Old Prescott, Arizona

If the winners will please send your name and address to we will send you some wonderful scraps from our new collection, Chateau Rouge.  We will also throw in a piece of Woad so you can see the wonderful color blue we are dyeing with today!
Thanks to everyone for playing along!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Moda Blog Hop...and Another Giveaway!

Our new Fall collection with Moda, Chateau Rouge, is coming very soon!  Our Chateau Rouge collection was inspired by a quilt I found in France last summer, that was loaded with different designs...piece by piece I took the quilt apart to find layers of different fabric hidden underneath.  I hope you will enjoy designing with our new line - it is one of my favorite collections we have designed for Moda in the past four years!
To celebrate all of the new Moda lines this Fall, there is a Moda Blog Hop going on and today is Day 6!  The theme of this hop is  Hometown here are some of my favorite things about my hometowns:  Rancho Palos Verdes, California, where I grew up; and my current hometown...Silverlake, California, where I live with JZ, Sofia and our two cats, Johnny and Boots; and then a dream hometown, thrown in for good measure!

Rancho Palos Verdes, California 90275
Population of Rancho Palos Verdes: 41,946
My parents moved to RPV in 1970, when I was six years old, and bought Fred Astaires' son's home..there was so much wax on the kitchen floor my mom used to tell us that Fred Astaire must have visited and danced in the kitchen all day long...really mom??  Is this how rumors get started?
My parent's still live in the house - where they have a beautiful view of Catalina Island and the migration of the Pacific gray whales that swim south every December.  

The most interesting landmark in Rancho Palos Verdes is Wayfarers Chapel, designed by Lloyd Wright and built between 1949 and 1951.  Many friends have been married here - it's a beautiful, serene place on the hill overlooking Portugese Bend.

Favorite Restaurant in Rancho Palos Verdes: Nelson's at Terranea.  I like this place because it sits in the exact same place where I worked growing fact I think it sits where the beluga whale tank was located!  I worked in Guest Relations at Marineland - taking tickets, giving tours and working in the guest services times.

Favorite thing to do in Rancho Palos Verdes:  Walk along the cliffs at sunset, or sit around the kitchen table with friends and family.  It's a fairly isolated community, so when we gather at my mom and dad's house, nobody leaves for a very long time - I think my mom likes it that way!

Silverlake, California 90039
Population of Silverlake: 30,972
JZ, Sofia and I moved to Silverlake in 2003 when we drove across the country on a road trip from New York City.  When we found this beautiful, little gem in Los Angeles we never looked any further - it was the perfect spot for us. 

The most interesting landmark in Silverlake is Silvertop.  John Lautner's "homage to the curve" is a 7,500 square foot house built at the top of the hill.  The house, which has a view from the ocean to the hills was built between 1957 and 1963.  I am lucky enough to know the owner, who invites me over for an occasional glass of wine with my friend JC to enjoy the view from her special home.

Favorite Restaurant in Silverlake:  Little Dom's
This restaurant feels like a neighborhood eatery in New York City...which is where I lived for almost 20 years after graduating from college.  I met JZ in in New York and together we lived and worked in Chelsea, Grandview on Hudson and then Soho.  Sofia was born in NYC and we decided to move west when she started first grade. 

My favorite thing to do near my house is to ride horses in Griffith Park with anyone who's game!

South of France
Nah...not really...but maybe someday!
Although we do live in the South of France every summer for a few weeks while hosting our 

Meanwhile, I am happy to design French-inspired fabric for Moda!  For our Blog Hop Pattern, Jody came up with this wonderful necklace project using our Chateau Rouge 2x2 squares - just leave yourself some time if you want to make it nice and long!

And just to make this worth all of your about a fun giveaway with some of our precuts from Chateau Rouge?  Leave us a message with your name and let me know where your hometown is!  We'll pick out a handful of winners so you can make up your own Chateau Rouge necklace, or quilt or......
Be sure to follow the fabulously talented designers on the Moda Blog Hop for the next week:

Sept. 5
Sept. 6
Pat Sloan
Sept. 7
Eric & Julie Comstock 
Sept. 8
Sept. 9
Sept. 10
Sept. 11
Sept. 12
Sept. 13
Sept. 14
Jenn Ski 

Merci and bonne chance!

Sunday, September 09, 2012

The Many Hats We Wear....

Thank you for so many lovely comments about the hats we wear - we all wear so many!  Many comments reminded me of the names we give to our hats and I thought about the hat factory in France and how they named all of their old hat molds....

I could only choose one lucky winner for the Sewn Hats Giveaway - so I chose Becky for the hat she wears when she is an advocate against proposed power lines going through her sounded like a tough hat to wear...and thought she could use something pretty in her life!  I hope you all agree!  Becky if you send us an email to with your shipping address, we will get a copy of Sewn Hats and some French General fabric and trim to you right away!  Thank you everyone for playing along and please come back for our Moda Blog Hop tomorrow - more giveaways to come!

Friday, September 07, 2012

Last Call for Woad!

Our annual Woad Workshop is happening next Saturday, September 15th in Los Angeles and we would love you to join us!  Spend a day with a group of textile lovers learning how to dye with one of the most unusual plants you will ever come across.   We still have a couple of spots left for this special class, taught by master dyer, Denise Lambert, visiting all the way from Southern France.
Join us for this special day if you want to learn about the ancient technique of turning your world blue!

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Sewn Hats Giveaway

A couple of years ago, I was asked to design a hat for a book which is being released this Fall.   Sewn Hats, edited by Carla Crim, and published by Wiley Craft, has everything you need to know about sewing your own hats, including patterns and instructions for 35 hats!  Because I had never sewn a hat before, Carla jumped in,  took the lead and sewed up a French General hat using one of my favorite sun hats as inspiration.  Sewn with old French ticking and a red grosgrain ribbon, the hat looks casual enough to wear to the beach or special enough to wear to an outdoor garden party.

To celebrate the upcoming release of this crafty new book, we have a special signed copy of Sewn Hats to giveaway, courtesy of Wiley Craft, as well as a yard of French General ticking and a some ribbon for trim.  If you are interested, please leave us your name and a comment about the many hats you wear in your life....and we will choose a lucky winner by Sunday, September 9th...before our Moda Blog Hop and another Giveaway begins on Monday, September 10th!
Follow along the blog tour and visit some amazing designers for another chance to win a copy of Sewn Hats:

Sewn Hats Blog Tour
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