L’Artisanat Monastique

imageThe Monastery shops throughout France showcase high quality artisan products that come from monasteries and convents. They sell honey, oils, jams, soap, embroidered children’s clothes, household linens, handprinted paper..

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In their Paris shop they also sell old linen and lace for the benefit of their religious orders.  In the cool vaulted cellars there is a wonderful selection of old monogrammed sheets, table linen, nightdresses, lace edgings, dickies, collars, blouses and ecclesiastical linens and embroideries.

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L’Artisanat Monastique

68 bis avenue Denfert Rochereau

75014 Paris

Mon –  Fri  12 – 6.30pm

Sat 2 – 7pm

metro Port Royal

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Weber Metaux

One of the highlights of our book research was exploring the cellars at Weber Metaux in the Marais district.IMG_5477

Then after the book was published, Weber moved to a warehouse not too far away at 66 rue de Turenne.  Having seen the extent of the narrow underground corridors full of potential treasures for imaginative designers and craftspeople we were a little sad to think of the end of an era for the rue de Poitou shop. What a job it must have been to pack up and shift!2017-04-04 16.45.41

To find the new place, look for the entrance way to number 66 rue de Turenne.IMG_0267

Head down the alleyway…..Photo 4-04-17, 4 40 18 PM (1)

Keep going….Photo 4-04-17, 4 39 53 PM (1)

The new warehouse stocks the same interesting array of materials. For the metallic threads and wires, go to the product stands in the right hand corner immediately on entering the shed. For chain mail or any queries ask at the central counter.

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And on your way out don’t miss this courtyard scene…Photo 4-04-17, 4 40 38 PM

Or the traces of stitching that went on before at 66 rue de Turenne.Photo 4-04-17, 4 48 27 PM

If you’re a fan of old doors, there is a beauty just along the road, painted bright blue at the time we visited. IMG_0268

While you are in this neighbourhood you are only a few minutes walk from the Picasso Museum in the beautiful 17th century Hôtel Salé (named for it’s owner of the time who was the salt-tax man – the word for salty in French is salé.)  Exit Weber Metaux onto rue de Turenne and take rue Sainte-Anastase almost opposite the alleyway to arrive at rue de Thorigny near the entrance to the museum.

It’s worth taking a coffee or tea break in the museum’s lovely roof-top cafe overlooking the entrance courtyard. From the rooftop you have a birds eye view of this cosy inner city neighbourhood.P1040539P1040537

The museum re-opened in late 2014 after being closed for 5 years for extensive renovations that doubled the exhibition space allowing many more works to be displayed.

The museum is open Tuesday to Friday 10.30am to 6pm, Saturday and Sunday 9.30am to 6pm and entry is free on the first Sunday of the month.

Bohin: prized needles

The village of St Sulpice sur Risle is a picturesque little corner of rural Normandy on the banks of the river Risle not far from Aigle. There may even be a haystack or two nearby but you won’t have any trouble finding needles there because it’s the home of the Bohin factory that has been making perfectly smooth sewing needles for almost 185 years. Bohin is the last European manufacturer of sewing notions; needles of every sort, from embroidery needles and glass tipped needles to needles for silk flower makers, taxidermists and sail makers, pins, safety pins and more. They have expanded their range of needlework necessities and kept up with trends to ensure this factory flourishes and the rich heritage of French specialty manufacturing continues.Photo 18-06-16, 1 58 35 PM

For a wonderful day trip you can visit the Bohin factory and museum to see the workshops where needles are being made, learn about the history and tradition of Bohin and buy ever so special Made in France souvenirs from the shop. There is also a needlecraft exhibition space. The factory is about 2 hours from Paris by car, or you can travel by train to Aigle and from the station take a short taxi ride, or make the walk of about 3 kilometres to Saint Sulpice sur Risle. You might like to picnic at one of the spots alongside the river and admire the Normandy cows on the opposite bank.

Opening hours in 2017 from 11 Feb to 5 November, Tuesday to Friday 10am to 6pm, Closed Mondays and on 1 May.

Weekends and Public Holidays open 2pm to 6pm.

We strongly recommend that if you can, plan your visit for a weekday when the factory staff are working the machines so that you see the needle making in action. On weekends the manufacturing process is shown on video screens beside the machines.

More details about the museum and factory, exhibitions and visiting hours here.

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Photo 18-06-16, 2 40 00 PMThe Bohin brand is well respected by sewists and embroiderers around the globe; the needles known for being high quality with exceptional polish so that they glide through fabric, making them a favourite of French tailors. The Bohin manufacturing expertise has been growing since 1833 when the factory was established. At the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1889 when Monsieur Eiffel was feted for his magnificent tower the Bohin manufacturing company won a Gold Medal for their needles, and again in 1900 at the next Parisian Exposition Universelle for which the Grand and Petit Palais were constructed, Bohin won the Grand Prize for their needles. At the same exhibition other gold medal winners included Campbell’s Soup.

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Win a gift copy of Stitching up Paris

image1Tis the season for gift giving and we’re thinking of you and your stitching friends. If you would like to be in the draw to win a copy for your friend then head over to Stitching up Paris on Facebook or Instagram and enter the draw.

All you need to do is to *like* the Facebook or Instagram post and tag a friend.

On December 17 we will draw the name of one lucky friend and send a copy of our book as a gift from you.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Joyeux Noel from Paris.

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The Champs Elysees is an extravaganza of light and sparkle at Christmas.

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Florists and pastry chefs alike go above and beyond to create magnificent displays.

 

 

St Catherine’s day fun

Saint Catherine’s Day – 25th November – is celebrated in France with a sense of fun. Saint Catherine is the patron saint of unmarried women, lacemakers, milliners, drapers and craftspeople (particularly those using wheels like potters). To honour Saint Catherine it was traditional for dressmakers to create fancy decorative hats and give them to single female friends or work mates to wear for the day. The purpose being to wish them good luck in finding a husband! It has become the day for milliners to show off their hats and hat making skills – often the St Catherine’s day hats are fabulously outrageous. Today it is still celebrated in just a few of the haute couture fashion houses, where staff make fancy hats in green and yellow colours for their young workmates.

In Paris you’ll find a statue of Saint Catherine on the corner of rue de Clery and and rue Poissonniere in the Sentier district. Years ago you might have seen the Catherinettes wearing their hats out in the street making their way to the statue to “pray to Saint Catherine for help in finding a husband.”

 

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p1090154Strictly speaking, a Catherinette is a young woman 25 years of age or more who has not yet married. Along with wearing pretty hats it was also customary for these young single women to send postcards of Saint Catherine to each other too. These lovely vintage cards can sometimes be found in the street markets with Vive Ste Catherine atop a pretty bonneted mademoiselle. In other countries it was traditional to make and eat Cattern cakes.

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In case you are thinking this is hardly in keeping with modern day feminism and the rightful pursuit of gender equality, it’s worth knowing a little more about Saint Catherine. According to legend Saint Catherine of Alexandria was a brilliant young woman of noble birth who went before Emperor Maximus to correct him for worshipping false gods and scolded him for his persecution of Christians. She called him out! He sent scholars and philosophers to argue with her, instead she convinced them of her faith and they converted to Christianity (and were subsequently executed). She might have saved her own life by allowing the Emperor to marry her, but she declined, and died a virgin martyr. Catherine’s punishment was death by torture on a spiked wheel, but the wheel flew apart, so instead she was beheaded. This is where the name of Catherine Wheel fireworks comes from.

So, on Saint Catherine’s day, wear a hat, have some fun and enjoy the legend of a young woman who stood on her principles.

Toile de Jouy

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Is there anything that typifies “French Country” style more than Toile de Jouy fabric? – probably not. Tranquil pastoral scenes, shepherds and shepherdesses, playful animals, oriental figures and flowers, birds and trees all pictured on plain coloured fabric background. That’s the well known Toile de Jouy. These printed cotton fabrics, along with small all-over designs – mignonettes – and multi-coloured designs were first made at a factory established in 1759 in the village of Jouy en Josas by an enterprising 20-year old, Christophe Philippe Oberkampf. He arrived as an immigrant with no money, hardly any French language skills but experience and knowledge of fabric dyeing, bucket loads of courage and entrepreneurial spirit and at just the right time to pounce on the opportunities arising from the end of the French government’s ban on fabric printing.

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The Jouy factory no longer exists; all the Toile de Jouy prints made now are re-editions of the original style, but you can visit the Toile de Jouy museum and enjoy an excellent presentation of the history of Monsieur Oberkampf’s inspiring story: his passion and drive for innovation, his canny ability to negotiate the political turmoils of the time and the outstanding success of his business. An immigrant success story that is relevant today.

The village is only a short train ride out from Paris. Not able to go? Take a virtual visit on the marvellous free-to-download App. There is an English version and a French version if you want to practise your French. The Toile de Jouy App includes information on how to get there – train lines, bus and car routes.

The museum exhibits recount the experimentation and innovations Monsieur Oberkampf pursued: the best way to bleach fabric, the increasing mechanisation of dyeing and printing using copper plates, then copper drums.p1090172

Equally fascinating are the displays of fabric designs that marked significant historical events like La Liberté  Americain.

Sometimes a dramatic turn of events necessitated design and marketing modifications. One design from 1787 featuring Louis XVI as a Roman Emperor started out with the name “Louis XVI, Restaurator de la Liberté ”. It was soon modified to include scenes of the storming of the Bastille and by 1790 Oberkampf marketed it as “the design of The Revolution” and “The Demolition of the Bastille”. Records show that by 1793 he noted there was very little left of the fabric but he was offering it for the same price as other designs (a bargain!), however with the emergence of the reign of terror it was sold off at a reduced price then finally put to rest – perhaps stashed away at the back of the stock room?

He also created fashion trends. At the time that The Fables de la Fontaine was a bestseller he printed toile with scenes from the fables. When hot air ballooning was the thing, lots of balloons appeared on the fabrics, and when pineapples were popular they too appeared on fabric. (They’re still popular judging by the wares in the fast fashion shops!)

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The museum is well worth a visit, there is a small gift shop where you can buy a Toile de Jouy souvenir or two, and the trip out to the village is a pleasant way to spend a few hours.

The fabric shops in the Marché Saint Pierre fabric district in Montmartre sell Toile de Jouy prints in a variety of designs and price ranges commensurate with fabric type and quality.

Toile de Jouy isn’t only for the French Country chic brigade, take a look at Historically Inaccurate: Richard Saja’s fabulous embroidery art for punked-up Toile de Jouy embellishments. You could try something at home. How cool is this shopping bag that Barbara made and embroidered for me.

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Neighbourhood Notes: Les Halles – now and then

 

P1090026For the last 4 to 5 years the Les Halles shopping and transport hub in the centre of the city has been under re-construction. Stage by stage it’s now being finished and unveiled. There is still work to do on the park and gardens that form part of the project but already Parisians can marvel at the promised architectural masterpiece, La Canopée, and shop til they drop, even on Sundays, in the expanded retail space. The glass canopy swoops low over the cafés and retail stores and lifts up with a dramatic swoosh on the outer edges.P1090028

This part of town has throbbed with people and market activity for hundreds of years…..Les Halles history3

………and for hundreds of years St Eustache presided over all the comings and goings.

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From the other side of the temporary work site wall, it still does. It’s dirty, worn Gothic exterior a solid, comforting and yet somehow thrilling presence that reminds us we are in the very neighbourhood whose stories fill history texts and best-selling novels.

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In this neighbourhood you can sip different time periods while you sip refreshments. From the modern cafés under the 21st century canopy, stroll a few steps along rue Montmartre to number 15, Le Cochon a L’Oreille to immerse yourself in 1903.

P1090051Here the decorative style is Art Nouveau. Wonderful ceramic wall tiles that were installed in 1903 depict scenes of market life.

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More details about the Les Halles project here and here.

Spring highlights and new addresses to stash

booksign photo2Friday last week was special –Paris turned on a gorgeous spring day for our visitors arriving from London. Helen of Curious Handmade, Renée of East London Knit and Pauline made the trip over to Paris for our book signing soirée and a spot of afternoon fabric shopping, patisserie hunting and yarn petting, (that may just have turned into patisserie tasting and yarn buying the following morning). 

In the few hours available between stepping off the Eurostar and turning up at L’Oisivethé for our book do, Barbara took us on a mini-tour of three newish fabric addresses in the 11th arrondissement. Come along and see what we found. 

First stop Maison Cousu on Boulevard Voltaire, a good-to-know address for novice knitters and sewists who are keen to pick up the wave of do-it-yourself clothing and homeware crafting. Everything here is contemporary and cool; kitset knitting and sewing projects like We Are Knitters kits, a super range of fabrics including Linna Morata designs, fabrics for dressmaking and making things for the home, plus a selection of buttons, ribbons and notions. Maison Cousu offers lots of classes for beginners – adults, teenagers and children. This is a fun place to check out. 

Next stop, Eurotissus for a quick look at this on-line fabric retailer’s no-frills store on Boulevard du Temple. It was a lucky day for a couple of bargains on pre-cut coupons.  

Mid-afternoon, right on cue like a well-rehearsed actor in a Paris classic, the rain arrived. Big drops landing splat on the pavement made us hurry down rue Keller into Anna Ka Bazaar. It was the perfect place to shelter and shop. There’s a tantalising selection of fabrics: Anna Ka’s own Atelier Brunette range of modern geometric designs, coveted Nani Iro fabrics and snazzy Ellen Luckett Baker and Kokka fabrics. (Love those seagulls!) There’s haberdashery and popular contemporary sewing patterns – the sewing bloggers love this place. Then there’s the kind of crafty goodies – paper, pens, stamps, string, threads, yarns and mini-looms – that are fun for everyone, and a cozy sofa to sit awhile and contemplate creative possibilities for the things that catch your eye. 

Purchases made, the rain gone and sunshine back on the scene, time to head back to base camp on the Butte aux Cailles. Aimee Osbourn-Gille hosted our book-signing evening at L’ Osivethé, Helen brought along a selection of her gorgeous shawl designs, knitting and crafting friends from near and far came along to share the evening with us. We could not have asked for a better way to celebrate Stitching up Paris. booksign photo3Special Stitching up Paris cupcakes made just for us by Sugarddaze Cupcakes 

(All photographs courtesy of Aimee Osbourn-Gille of L’ Oisivethé.)

Addresses to stash:

Maison Cousu

25 Boulevard Voltaire, Paris 75011

Open Mon 12.30 to 7pm, Tues-Sat 10am to 7pm

Metro: Oberkampf

 

Eurotissus

28 Boulevard du Temple, Paris 75011

Open 11.30am to 7pm, Tues – Fri, Saturday 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 7pm

Metro: Filles du Calvaire, or Oberkampf

 

Anna Ka Bazaar

16 rue Keller, Paris 75011

Open Monday to Saturday 11am to 7pm

Metro: Bastille, or Ledru-Rollin

 

Book signing

 

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Come along to L’Oisivethé for our book signing evening – Friday 15th April. Everyone is welcome to pop in or stay a while, chat and knit, crochet, embroider or stitch. If you already have a copy of Stitching up Paris and would like it signed you are welcome to bring it along for us to write in.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Soirée Dédicace à L’Oisivethé le vendredi 15 avril . Venez nous voir  avec ou sans aiguilles, entre 18h et 21h pour une dédicace, pour boire un verre, rencontrer Helen de Curious Handmade et qui sait, gagner le tirage au sort!