Thursday, December 11, 2008

Small Beauties

Here is a peek into our next project....

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Jackie O and Mary Catherine

When I was 22 years old, I worked for the film department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The film department at the Met made small films about visiting collections.  One day, the phone rang and a very little, breathless voice asked me what she should wear to the opening of the film that evening. Knowing that Jackie O was a patron of the department, I recognized her voice and suggested a smart pantsuit (wouldn't Jackie have a smart 
pantsuit?)  She thanked me and said goodbye. She arrived in a beautiful metallic Lanvin jacket and a pair of smoky grey cigarette pants. 
Months later, I was at my local deli and Jackie was in front of me buying some cold cuts with John Jr. (Who in the world would ever run into Jackie and John-John at their local deli?) Before I knew it I had given Jackie fashion advice and bought the baguette she had put down at the deli.  I told my friends that night our bread had been blessed.
I loved calling my mom in California and telling her the "Jackie O" stories - I knew she had always loved Jackie and Jack.  I have always connected my mom with Jackie Kennedy - they were both young moms in the sixties, had lots of style and smoked liked it was nobody's business!  When Jackie died, I remember feeling like I had lost a member of our family.
Today is my mom's birthday and I am so lucky to have her in my life everyday - her laughter, her wisdom and her love of life. I have had the pleasure of becoming great friends with my mom.  Happy Birthday Mom - you have always been an icon to me!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Sourcing Sources

When Molly and I owned the shop in NY - I say that so often it sounds like the beginning of a fairy tale - there was always the person who would come in and ask "who's your source for old flowers?" or "where do you get the old French ticking from?" Now sometimes, it was innocent enough and they really just wanted to know - where do we get it generally - not specifically. And that's an ok question - I ask my dealers all the time - where did you get this?? I don't necessarily want to know exactly who they bought it from, just where in the world did you find this bag of 19th century glass leaves on wire???
On Saturday at our book signing, a woman came in and once we had established that we were both diggers, she started telling me about her old sources! This only happens once in a great while - and when it does - I have to turn my memory function on to high gear and start remembering every detail. This was how it went: "Have you ever been to that amazing old dealer near Broadway on the 5th floor?" Me: "No, Broadway in Los Angeles or New York?" "Los Angeles - all of the best places to dig for old glass and millinery are in Los Angeles!" Me: "Where?" "Everywhere - just walk downtown - go into the place kitty corner from Wall Street and then cut through the alley over to Santee - you'll find amazing old stuff" Me: "Ok - where, exactly?" "Oh I can't remember exactly - just all over. I used to find turn of the century hand-stamped brass animal faces from France down on Wall Street - just near Flower"
And on and on it went like this, till I finally pulled out pen and paper and just started writing down the random thoughts and familiar names. It sounded like a wild goose chase to me, but one I am willing to take. So in the next couple of days, I'll don my old jeans, rubber gloves and maybe even a mask - and go digging! I can't resist the thrill of the hunt.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Saturday in Hollywood

If you happen to be in Hollywood this Saturday - come by French General for a little Holiday Cheer. We'll be signing copies of our new book, Home Sewn and serving up Cava and gingersnaps! For those of you have haven't taken a craft class yet, we will have our notion room open for jewelry making - just come pick up a jewelry kit and we will get you started! If our limited hours drive you nutty - here's your chance to come in on a Saturday - it only happens once a year!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Going Home

I grew up in a small coastal town just south of Los Angeles, called Palos Verdes. We moved to Palos Verdes from La Canada in 1971 to escape the smog. My parents bought Fred Astaire's sons' home overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The floors were covered in wax and everyone used to joke that Fred had spent his days dancing there. I went to Palos Verdes High School - which was across the street from the cliffs - a favorite place to hang out for many years. The cliffs represented everything that was a little bit wild in PV - surfers, surfer chicks, drop outs and stoners.
Ah.....the cliffs. This past week we went home for a few days and spent a good amount of time at the cliffs. I didn't see any of the old remnants of the past but it was a real eye opener to see the cliffs again. Beautiful jagged edge rocks with crystal clear water below. Across the street from the cliffs were all sorts of new, over-the-top homes being built. The athelete's homes - my dad said. That made sense - who wouldn't want to grow up across the street from these cliffs? It's funny how you can spend so much time in such a beautiful place and not recognize it till much later in life. Going home does that I guess - makes you want to go back to being 15 years old again.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Chateau News

Well, as winter is beginning to settle in, it's time to think about my planned getaway! I have been talking with Lizzie, our friend who owns the lovely 18th century Chateau Dumas in south west France. Together, we are ready to plan our first ever Textile Workshop. We are thinking of a seven night/six day chateau stay which would include outings to the flea market, vide greniers and brocantes as well as afternoon workshops and maybe even a field trip to the hat factory in Caussade.
All of our meals will be prepared for us - to give us more time to relax and create, walk the grounds, learn about wine and of course - hunt for old textiles! This is a planned escape for the woman who would like to live in France for a week, wake up to the smell of fresh croissants and see the fields of sunflowers that go on for miles. Mom - are you coming?
If you are interested in French General's Chateau Getaway, please leave me a comment with your e-mail or home address and I will send you the details, including room availability, travel suggestions and costs! The chateau has a limited amount of rooms, so sign ups will be on a first come basis.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Slice of Heaven on Earth

I'm in charge of the pies this Thanksgiving and if I lived anywhere else in the world, I would be home baking pies this morning. Since we are lucky enough to live blocks from one of the best pie houses around, I popped in and picked up my pies - just like that. House of Pies, on Vermont and Franklin in Los Angeles, bakes up some pretty fine pies from scratch. Old-school style - buttery crust, lots' of spice and real cream!

This time of year, they have pies piled up - I counted over 300 pies waiting to be picked up for the big day. Wherever you are today, if you are home baking, or out picking up pies - have a great Thanksgiving Day. Thank you for supporting French General and reading my thoughts on a (sometimes) daily basis!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sewing Stash Contest Update

Well, after many e-mails and a few pleas, our Sewing Stash Contest has been extended a bit. Instead of sending in your sewing beauty by the end of November....we are hoping that everyone can send in their piece by the end of January. It seems the holidays are creeping up on all of us and a sewing stash contest is getting pushed to the bottom of many lists! For those of you who have already sent your piece in, we will photograph and return before the holidays. For everyone else who was thinking of sending in a small craft sewn out of scraps - please take your time and send in by the end of January! Thanks for participating - so far the entries have been beautiful - I can't wait to see more! Feel free to e-mail me at if you have questions. Bonne Chance!

Monday, November 24, 2008

I Dream in French

Every once in a while I am asked why French General - why did we name our business French General? Do we have some strange obsession with Napoleon, Charlemagne, Henry IV, or Jean of Arc? No - although I do love the story of Jean of Arc and how she turned the tide of the Hundred Years' War by leading the French to victory at the famous Siege of Orléans. But besides that bit of fascination - I did not study French history. The name French General came to me one night while my mom and I were spending time in the south of France for her 60th birthday. We were staying at Chateau de Roussan and I woke up in the middle of the night with the name French General in my head. Just like that - it happened. Nobody really liked the name - in fact, some people thought it was a little absurd, naming a business after a dream. But, to me, it made perfect sense. We were opening our barn which was filled with treasures from our trips to France. We were trying to create an experience for people that they wouldn't be able to find unless they travelled to France. We aren't French - just generally French. A little bit of the French style with a dash of the general store. Just in case you were you know.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gems of New York

Last week, my trip to NY was so quick I barely had time to run into some of my old haunts - but I managed to squeeze in a few. If you find yourself in NY wondering what to do next, here's a short list of some of my favorite places:

Cupcake Cafe: Since the year I moved to NY back in 1988, this has been my favorite place for breakfast or just for a cupcake and a cup of tea. There is much debate over favorite types of cupcakes, but I choose these floral cupcakes any day over Magnolia! Cupcake Cafe now has two locations - I still prefer the whole in the wall on 9th Avenue between 40th and 41st Street.

Tinsel Trading: No longer a secret in New York, this vintage trim emporium is filled to the rafters with beautiful ribbons, flowers and hand-made gifts. I can spend hours and hours looking through all of Marcia's uncovered metallic fabric and threads. While visiting last week for the book signing, a designer came in and bought yards of beautiful old silver fabric and ribbon to make a wedding dress. I love the idea of a monochromatic metallic gown.

Fishs Eddy: I always love to pop into this old shop and see what they have uncovered in American dinnerware, glassware, and flatware. If you dig long enough and deep enough, you are sure to uncover some forgotten old childhood memory from your grandma's kitchen! When propping for our entertaining book, I found all sorts of old cake plates, tea sets and cranberry glass plates at this shop, that has grown over the years I have known it.

ABC Carpet and Home: Just across the street from Fishs Eddy - this five-story home store will keep you busy for hours! The first floor is always my favorite - filled with inspiration from around the world - I am continually in awe at the color coordinated and thematic displays. After you have exhausted yourself with inspiration overload - take a break at the tapas restaurant, Pipa, where you can have a snack with a glass of wine from the Basque country in Spain. ABC also has a bakery, a chocolate bar and a fine restaurant.

John Derian: No secret here - one of my favorite people and places to visit while in New York! John has filled his workshop with all of his wonderful art as well as brought in a handful of one-of-a-kind antiques and whatnots. Be sure to visit his newly opened textile shop, just a door or two down from the original.

Raouls: My favorite place to end the day with steak frites and a glass of red wine. Raouls was opened by two brothers from France years ago and continues to be one of the best French style bistros in Manhattan. Make reservations as soon as you get into town and hope that you can get a booth in the front dining room! Bon appetit!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sunday at the Shrine

Did you hear that I'm stepping out of my comfort zone? ("No, do tell" said the little mouse)

This Sunday, November 16th, I'll be teaching a class at Felt Club here in Los Angeles. All you have to do is arrive at the Shrine on Sunday, pick up one of our pretty jewelry kits and I'll show you how to put it all together!

Felt Club is an annual indie craft fair featuring some of the best and brightest of today's creative scene. A carefully juried show highlights a wide variety of handmade goods, including handbags and jewelry, baby gifts and paper products, clothing and housewares, one-of-a-kind plushies and original artwork. Felt Club also offers how-to workshops, craft supply swaps, and more.

Sunday, NOVEMBER 16, 11am-7pm
@ Shrine Auditorium Expo Center
700 W. 32nd St., LA CA 90007

If you live in Los Angeles, this is a wonderful way to start the holidays - supporting crafters and buying homemade!

(Thanks to Ryan Berkley and his lovely Animal in Suits collection - I thought they were they perfect way to announce my coming out!!)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tinsel Trading Fun

I'm off to New York - again! I feel so lucky to get back to my old stomping ground a couple of times a year. This time I am spending a whole day at one of my favorite places, Tinsel Trading.
This past summer, Marcia Ceppos, Tinsel's owner,  packed up her grandfather's business and moved it a whole block away. Doesn't sound too daunting...unless of course you we're one of the few lucky ones to have ever seen the basement!! Word on the street was they moved everything by laundry wagons - but that might just be an urban myth.
They have unpacked, decorated and primped the new store and I hear it is better than ever!
This Thursday, November 13th I'll be signing copies of Home Sewn and hosting a craft jam with Marcia in the evening. If you happen to be in mid-town, stop by, say hello and stick around for some fun! I hear Wendy Addison will be there also. Wendy is one of those few people who, when you meet her, you feel more grounded - so I like being around her as often as possible.
Book signing is from 12-2 on Thursday and our craft class is from 6:30-8:30 - call Marcia today (212 730 1030) if you would like to sign up for the class - Apron Adorned - just what everyone needs for the coming holiday season!

Ribbon Stories

Because there were so many wonderful stories and comments, I cannot limit myself to only sending out two boxes of ribbon!
So...four lucky names were drawn from the hat: Jill, Cat Allman, Joey's Mom and Suzan..and one story was so wonderful (I think it was the small bow taped to her daughters' head that did it) that Sally-Ann is our honorary winner! Thank you so much for sharing your stories and memories. To our five (!) lucky winners, please send me your favorite color palette and I will do my best to pack up each box of ribbon. Merci!

Friday, November 07, 2008

A Bit of Colored Ribbon

The first time I came upon a basement of old ribbon, I was on 38th Street in New York City looking for a yard or two of trim. As I walked into So Good, I was greeted by a rather gruff man named Danny who was almost buried underneath the spools of ribbon that were stacked as high as the ceiling. When my charm didn't work on Danny, a young man named Tony came out from the back and asked me what I needed. I tried to explain that I really liked all of their new ribbon but what I was really looking for was the old ribbon. They didn't think they had much. But after a little more prodding, Tony asked Danny if he could take me to the basement. Although this sounds a bit ominous, I knew it meant gold. A bit of haggling and a few rolled eyes between them, Danny finally said yes, "but only to look".
I spent the next six hours "looking" in the basement. Since no one ever came down to check on me, I took it upon myself to start pulling out every old spool I could uncover - stripes, picot, water marked taffeta, grosgrain and silk - everything from 1/2" woven ribbon with red polka dots to 6" black mourning ribbon. I left that day with more than a dozen large brown boxes filled with some of the treasures from So Good's basement.
Since then...all those 15 years ago....I stop in and see Danny and Tony whenever I am in New York, They greet me with a smile and an anticipated look on their face and they always ask "Are you going to the basement again?" - I don't think they ever forgot how excited and overcome I was when they left me down there on my own to rummage through their old stock. Every now and then, I pop down two flights of stairs and take a look around - but the stock has been picked over and replaced with newer items. We reminisce about the good old days and they fill me in on the latest news of the street.
These days, it's not so easy to uncover a basement full of antique ribbon, so I rely more and more on new ribbon dealers, here and in France. Yesterday, a box arrived with over 60 spools - every color of the rainbow. Napoleon said "A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon" - and I couldn't agree with him more.
For a fun weekend giveaway - we will choose two lucky winners who will each receive a box full of beautiful ribbon - their choice of color! Leave a comment below about your favorite bit of colored ribbon and Sofia will choose two lucky winners on Monday, November 10th! Bonne chance!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Toile de Jouy

I am on the hunt for some old toile. Toile (pronounced twahl) means "cloth" in French. “Toile de Jouy,” or “toiles de Jouy,” are terms that refer to fabric that was first manufactured at a factory in Jouy-en-Josas, a village located southwest of Paris, near Versailles. Founded in 1760 by Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf, (1738-1815), a textile entrepreneur, the factory site was chosen primarily because of its proximity to the clear running water of the Bièvre River. Mr. Oberkampf knew that water was a crucial element in the dyeing process. Only the highest quality goods were used in the production of the factory's printed fabrics made of cotton.
At first, the Oberkampf factory produced only floral designs block printed with wood blocks. In all, more than thirty thousand block print designs were utilized to print fabric there. Typical scenes of early toile fabric include dancers, people visiting and lounging, and dogs. Traditionally, each toile design had its own name, and that practice continues today.
This toile document sample probably dates to the mid-1800's and the red dye looks as if it hasn't faded a bit - a sure sign of a well printed toile.

Don't Forget To Vote!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Sewing Stash Contest

Years ago I would have considered my obsessive bead collecting habit out of control. Whenever I could, I would head up to Providence and fill up our Grand Wagoneer with boxes and boxes of old glass cabachons, beads and decorative goods. Since I was always able to constantly use the beads in my jewelry designs or put the beads into kits - I convinced myself that I was simply preserving the past and passing on my great finds to others. I had a few small bead boxes stored at home, so I could design jewelry whenever the mood struck me.
My fabric stash is a different story. I thought everything was going along fine and then one day this past week, I noticed my fabric stash had sort of become a part of my everyday life. Piles of old fabric have been stacked up in the living room and on the tables - for no other reason except that I like to look at them. The other day I couldn't sit down on the couch because of all of the patchwork squares I had uncovered at Quilt Market. I actually picked up a couple of the piles and put them on the floor to make space for me. The piles are still there.I thought about storing them in the armoire in the living room, but the last time I checked it was chock full of cloth. I thought French General was supposed to be my craft workshop - the place where I could actually store all of my old bits and pieces. Somewhere along the way I decided I couldn't go a whole night without looking at my scraps - and so, instead of me dropping the bags of fabric at FG, they come home with me and make little piles all over the house. I seem to be unable to pass up beautiful, antique fabric. And, I am already counting the days till the fabric show at the end of the month at Pickwick Gardens.
So here's the big idea...if you have a fabric stash - and I am sure most of you do, pull it out (or if you are like me, it's already out!) and use it. I know - it's an unusual concept - to actually use the very elements that we have been hoarding for years. This actually could be fun and could make up our first ever sewing contest.
A few rules: you must not buy your material, all of the elements must come from your stash - even the trim - and you must make something that will show off special bits off your stash. A patchwork bag, quilt, wall hanging, pillow or stuffed animal - anything that will let you look at your fabric collection on a daily basis without having to look at all of the piles!
Once you have completed your design, send it along to us at French General, along with details of the scraps you used. All designs will be photographed and then returned to you by the holidays.
Our Sewing Stash contest will run the month of November - plenty of time to dig out your scraps - and the winner will be chosen based on design and function by a group of stashers. The lucky winner will win a $100 gift certificate to French General, along with a copy of our new book, Home Sewn. All of the designs will be shown on our website along with your name and a link to your website and blog if you like.
Have fun, be creative....and...use your stash to make some cash!
Send your entry to us at:
French General 1621 Vista del Mar, Hollywood, California 90028

Friday, October 31, 2008

Holy Cow!

You have to love a kid that goes all out on Halloween as a dancing cow! Sofia came up with this idea and worked it to the hilt - tap dancing her way through the costume parade at school. Let's see if she can keep it up through the night!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Work Related

Digging through some of the antique textile booths at Quilt Market, I came upon a whole stack of quilted patched squares made out of rural work clothes. Old stripes cut right out of the coveralls, mixed with early brown woven plaids - all fit together perfectly to make up these earthy patches.
By 1900 upper- and middle-class women had turned to other types of needlework, and quilts were considered old-fashioned and quaint. Southern quilts from the first two decades of the twentieth century were typically made from fabrics left over from making everyday clothing. Quilt making, handed down through generations became a necessity of life. Using old clothes was an economical way to keep your family warm at night while recycling clothes that could no longer be worn working in the fields. I have a whole new appreciation for the early American rural cloths that were woven and manufactured after the cotton gin was invented.

When I got home. I pulled out some old cards with work-related buttons that I had picked up years ago at Brimfield. Someone had collected all of the buttons off of her families clothing - Levis, Burlington, Granite - all companies that were making the clothes that men and women were wearing while working on the farm - and hand-sewn them onto cards to preserve them. Mostly brass or pewter, but some Bakelite and even wooden buttons survived because someone took the time organize and document her collection. This is something I need to take time to do - sort and organize my collection of notions and fabric so that someone will be able to "read" the history of my accumulation - or.... collection.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Houston by High Noon

The International Quilt Market begins this weekend, and I am off to Houston to start getting my feet wet. I'll be signing copies of Home Sewn at both the Moda Booth - Saturday at 2 and the Brewer's Quilting Booth - Sunday at 1. I'll also be meeting up with some Japanese friends who are master quilters. In fact - some of the Japanese sewers I know are craft stars in Japan. I spent the day today preparing a present for each Japanese friend - because not only is a small token greatly appreciated but the fact that you took the time to package it is a true sign of admiration.
I am hoping to keep my eyes and ears open and learn as much as I can about this new patchwork territory - I never thought in a million years I would be thinking of designing quilts - but it feels like a natural extension for me. I love mixing the old patterns and colors together - and what better way than to use a large piece of fabric as your canvas.  
Two times to Texas within the last month....I'm hoping to go out for Texas barbeque again - I'm packing my cowboy boots - just in case.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My Almost Husband

Many people don't know this, but I always thought I was going to marry Bono. That's right, the rock star, Bono. A few people in my family, including JZ, have always thought that if I ever had the opportunity, it would happen. No matter that Bono has been married to the same beautiful woman, Ali, for 20 plus years and that he has four children. Last night, as I was sitting less than 10 feet away from him, listening to him talk at the annual Women's Conference in Long Beach, I think we both realized, maybe independently, that this marriage was probably never going to happen. 
My old room mate from London, Diane, was visiting and e-mailed me around noon inviting me to come down and listen to Bono - as well as Billie Jean King, Gloria Steinem and Bonnie Rait. What a rush. This yearly even is put on by Maria Schriver and her husband, the governor of California. 14,000 women gather to engage in conversations about passion and the power to change ourselves and the world around us. Here's a little bit of what my (almost) husband had to say - he was passionate, convincing and everything I thought he would be. I was so impressed with his belief that each and every one of us can work towards changing the world for the better - or like Bono said, the world is so much more malleable than he ever thought. Amen.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cover Girl

Whenever there is a lot going on...I forget about projects we worked on six months ago that are just now coming out.  Where Women Create - a new quarterly magazine debuts this month and it just so happens....French General's notion room is on the cover.  Woo hoo!  I know I shouldn't complain, but you know how you feel when you see a photo of yourself that isn't showing your best side....that's how I feel when I see this cover...I wish I could rewind.  Where is the do-over button?  When am I ever going to be happy with what it is - not what it could be? 
I think this could be a fun magazine - it's all about women's creative spaces.     

Friday, October 03, 2008

Frugal Scraps

Here's a little look at the ticking collection that arrived from Elizabeth Baer. I was so inspired when I received it that I wrote to Polly Leonard at Selvedge Magazine in London and asked her if we could write an article about this curated collection of old, utilitarian fabric. Not only was Polly interested in the idea - but she wants to put this story into her Frugal edition out this spring - sounds perfect to me!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Mushroom Art

I like it. I don't like it. I want it and I don't want it. Was this some sort of cement garden art - and if so, why? You have to admit, the Victorian's figured out a way to make everything look as if it was a piece of art. I want it.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Indian Summer

I always think the long, hot summer is over and then somehow it sneaks up on me again. The last few days have felt like triple digits here in Los Angeles - even though it's probably only in the 90's. Every one seems to be a little out of it - no one is prepared for the heat that decides to park it for a few more weeks.
Here's the odd phenomena, the pool is cold as ice. It's a hard one to figure out, but JZ thinks that once the nights turn cooler, around Labor Day, the pool temperature drops. No matter how warm the days are - the pool never gets to that comfortable, "swimmable" level again.
This makes me think of the Polar Bear Club in Old Saybrook, Connecticut - which I heard Katherine Hepburn was once part of - she would dive into the Atlantic every morning for a quick swim.
Which makes me think about Paul Newman - who I l have loved ever since my family watched The Sting - my dad's favorite movie. I heard one of the DJ's on KCRW say he was a great man because he had been married for fifty years.
But this photo makes me think about my mom who was shot in the leg with a bee-be gun one day whiles she was sitting on the pier at the lake in Neenah, Wisconsin. She was shot by a boy who liked her more than she liked him. Like I said, Indian Summer......

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!