Vintage Rhodoid buttons at La Droguerie

Right on the Button

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Have you noticed that posts about buttons on social media elicit a flurry of comments about grandmothers’ button tins or jars, fond memories of special buttons, buttons that made certain cardigans and dresses special favourites. It seems that buttons really do “press our buttons”,and we are, like the late Steve Jobs, fond of the perfect button. (Of course he was fond of an entirely different sort of button, but we understand the sentiment.)

Buttons have been special since fashion became fashionable. Not only useful for fastening and making clothes fit, buttons were signs of wealth – status symbols, where the rule of the day was the more buttons the better.

While these days we are not so heavy on the buttons we all know that the right button is worth the hunt. Paris isn’t short of fabulous button purveyors and in our Stitching up Paris guidebook we’ve given you a sample of button heaven in the heart of Montmartre’s fabric district.

Now we’ve got three more button addresses for you to stash in your notebook:

Buttons Paradise
15 rue St Guillaume
Paris 75007

Metro: Rue du Bac or St Germain

www.buttonsparadise.com 

For the English version click the Anglais button at the top right. The blog posts are particularly interesting and cover a range of topics including fashion tips.

Open: Mon, Tue & Thurs 2pm to 7pm, Weds & Fri 10am to 7pm, Closed: Sat & Sun

Sandrine Mettelal’s fabulous boutique is just off boulevard St Germain on the Left Bank. In fact, it’s not far from the new location for France Duval Stalla’s fabric store that we mentioned in our last post. It’s also just a short stroll from the fabulous department store Le Bon Marché and any number of delightful cafes and refreshment stops.

File 14-06-17, 12 18 51 PMAs well as a beautifully curated range of luxury, vintage, contemporary and top-selling buttons you will find stunning button jewelry and buckles. Just to whet your appetite further,  Sandrine has shown Barbara a selection of fabulous vintage buttons including some made of snail shell that were designed by Lucien Weingott – who worked with Schiaparelli.

Sandrine is an experienced connoisseur of buttons and provides excellent advice for choosing buttons.

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Musée de la Nacre et de la Tabletterie
51 rue Roger Salengro
Méru 60110

www.musee-nacre.com
(English translation button top right)

Open: Everyday except Tuesdays 2.30pm to 6.30pm

Meru postcards on mailbagThe Mother of Pearl museum is housed in a 19thcentury button-making factory in the town of Méru. For a (half) day trip out from Paris take the train from Gare du Nord to Beauvais-Le Tréport via Persan stopping at the village of Méru (about 50mins from Paris). Consider taking a taxi from the station to the museum; my map App advises it’s 1.1km away, approximately 15 minutes walk.

The museum is open daily from 2.30pm to 6.30pm (except Tuesdays). Please check the Hours and Access information on the website under the tab “Useful” for annual closing dates and any variations to these opening hours.

There are guided tours, in French, that will give you an idea of the working conditions in the old factory; harsh! There is a boutique on site – after all you might like some little souvenirs to remind you of your expedition to Méru.

 

Mireille Boutonnières
21 rue des Petits Carreaux (3rd floor)
Paris 75002

Metro: Sentier (exit rue des Petits Carreaux)

Open: Monday to Friday 8am to 2pm

File 16-04-18, 1 53 05 PMIf you are on the hunt for buttons, chances are you may want buttonholes too. Here is a great address for stress-free buttonholes made tout de suite and it’s right in the centre of the fashion capital where rue des Petits Carreaux becomes rue Montorgueil (featured in Neighbourhood Notes page 73 Stitching up Paris guidebook).

Drop in to this tiny workshop, the entrance is right next door to Starbucks, between 8am and 2pm any weekday and Monsieur Mireille (junior) will make buttonholes, covered buttons, eyelets, and popper buttons for you on the spot at a very reasonable price.  What’s more, you’ll likely see a genuine side of Parisian sewing life: young men and women with their cosplay outfits, independent fashion designers, young sewists with their tote bags, and clever seamstresses bringing their latest self-made winter coats, all of them know the best address for stress-free, perfectly professional finishing touches.

You’ll need to have the placement of the buttonholes marked on your finished garment, know the size of the buttonhole you need (take your buttons) and your piece of fabric chosen for covered buttons.

As always, bon voyage!

PS: the fabulous vintage Rhodoid buttons in the top photograph (and the single button picture) are from La Droguerie in Paris.

La Clarière in Paris has vintage mother-of-pearl buttons and gave us the old French Post bag.

 

 

 

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Update your Paris address book

Since we published Stitching up Paris there have been a few changes of address that bring some exciting shop expansions.

We’ll continue to keep you right up to date with new or changed addresses by posting updates here on our blog and on social media.  Stash these away for your next trip to Paris because the stitching scene just keeps getting better and, as we’ve noted before, “Paris is always a good idea.”

La Bien Aimée – now at 89 avenue d’Italie, Paris 75013

Nearest Metro:  Tolbiac or Maison Blanche

Open Tuesday to Saturday 11am to 6pm

Still as bright as sunshine and beautiful as ever, but with even more space for La Bien Aimée’s highly coveted hand-dyed-in-Paris yarns,  Aimée’s new shop is located on the busy Avenue d’ Italie at number 89.

This new store and expanded dyeing studio is still in the same neighbourhood of the 13th arrondissement as the sister store L’Oisivethé (at the corner of rue Butte aux Cailles and rue Marie Jego), and is about a 10-minute walk away. This means you can still call in to La Bien Aimée for some new yarn before walking on to Wednesday knit night at L’Oisivethé to begin casting on.

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France Duval-Stalla – now at 72 rue Mazarine, Paris 75006

Nearest metro:  Mabillon or Odéon

Open Tuesday to Thursday 11am to 7pm

Located at number 72 rue Mazarine, tucked cosily at the back of a pretty little courtyard, France Duval-Stalla’s new boutique is well worth a visit, and not just for the chance to stroll around the Left Bank neighbourhood, perhaps window shopping nearby on beautiful boulevard Saint Germain and stopping at one of its famous cafes.  The new boutique itself is more spacious and there are ever more elegant fabrics and trims – look out for the gorgeous sparkly elastics. France Duval-Stalla offers a programme of demonstrations and classes, which are in French but the teachers often speak English, as do the sales staff.

 

Le Bonheur des Dames 

We hear that Le Bonheur des Dames embroidery boutique at avenue Daumesnil is closing in early April 2018. Their pretty little boutique in Passage Verdeau (number 8) remains open and is as delightful as ever. A visit to the covered passages of Paris is a must-do.

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Weber Métaux

We posted about the change of address for Weber Metaux here.

Remember, always check social media for any changes to opening hours for all stores before you visit. Most boutiques update their Instagram and Facebook accounts with any changes. It is common in Paris for opening hours to change seasonally, or for special occasions and events, and of course many boutiques close for a few weeks in the summer holidays.

Bon voyage!

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.