Wednesday, 16 April 2014


This was a delightful pictorial fabric showing this little family all dressed up.  I only had it for a few hours at a fair and it was sold to a delighted costume collector - wish I'd kept it longer but at least I kept a record!  If it is a contemporary design I would take it to be about 1830.
The colouring looks very like block printing by hand - I would be very interested to know if anyone has seen this print before, I find the little flower sprig background very sweet and wonder which French factory produced it.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Stripe me pink!

sold to a Californian dec. shop!
What a bundle of joy!

I have always loved stripes, both for wearing, and decorating my rooms,  and my portrait here shows me in a red/white stripey shirt in fine cotton poplin, with a pie-crust collar, that I bought on a visit to Rowlands of Bath 50 years ago and which I  wore regularly for 30 years.    Do you remember, Princess Diana had one like that?   So it was not surprising that when I discovered tickings in France at a feather factory in Tours, I was totally smitten with the brilliant combinations of stripes, especially those that were imported covering feather beds from Germany, where the palette was bold and beautiful.  I have recounted elsewhere how I discovered them in huge dirty piles tied in twenties in their original grubby, smelly, state, stacked high in the loft of an old factory warehouse and how I brought them home by the hundred, and after heavy and thorough cleansing, then sold them to eager buyers from all over the world, after a mention of the huge variety of colourways by W.o.I. Mag.  and a picture of a  little trug of samples in their Antennae column.  I have kept an archive of 145 different patterns, as there is no literature or record of the patterns that I have ever been able to source  and - I think they were considered too lowly, too domestic and possibly too varied to be worthy of proper documentation.  I always felt that each factory must have concocted its own mix of different stripes according to the coloured cotton thread available and just got on with production while it lasted and no celebrity, decorator or stylist was involved in the choice of pattern.
  A friend, Jenny Garrett Smith, has a super stock of some of these tickings and will be offering them at the Rag Market here in Bradford on Avon on Sunday, June 15th, 2014, 9am - 43 pm. so this could be a last chance!


    Have you ever thought it might be fun, and interesting too, to write an occasional or regular BLOG.  Well, there is a good opportunity to learn about how to start out and capture your audience.  I have long been a fan of the Gentle Author who writes a brilliant daily (yes, really, has never missed one)Blog about the Spitalfields area of London and the old days in the Cockney world nearby.  Everyday there are  batches of pro. snapshots of streets, institutions and people and I have found them fascinating, as does my husband who used to work in the City.     The Gentle Author, who is extremely fluent and erudite will show you how to go about your own Blog and you can contact him by Email.  He is holding classes ( on two days in May) in London and I know they will be extremely popular.  Blogs are free c/o Google.
On the road! Fairground figures.
      . Email   Have a look at his past Blogs and if you love London, you will be amazed at the varied histories and characters of the different streets, the churches, the monuments, the pubs, which will speak to you of their chequered fortunes and connect up with their historic past.  Immigration, poverty, skills, cafes, little shops are all dealt with and the studies of the faces and clothes of the families living there are a rich tapestry.    PERSONALLY I HAVE FOUND WRITING A VERY INFORMAL BLOG ABOUT MY FRENCH TEXTILE BUSINESS AND SOME OF THE ADVENTURES ON THE WAY, HAS BROUGHT BACK MEMORIES OF THE MANY GOOD TIMES WE HAVE SHARED IN OUR LONG MARRIED LIFE TOGETHER, JUST ON 66 YEARS NOW!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014


 Skip this post if you have already made a note of my Textile fair ((ELIZABETH BAER'S RAG MARKET) BUT WE HAVE HAD QUITE A FEW NEW PEOPLE JOINING  BLOGS AND WEBSITES SINCE MY LAST POST ABOUT THE FAIR AND I JUST WANT TO MAKE SURE EVERYONE WHO MIGHT WANT TO COME IS AWARE OF THE DATE, TIME AND PLACE. 9.00 to 3pm. at the Mason's Hall, 29 Church Street, Bradford on Avon, BA15 1LN on Sunday June 15th, 2014
I AM NOW COMPLETELY FULL UP WITH NO STANDS VACANT, 24 IN ALL,  SO I WILL NOW PRINT THE FLYERS FOR YOU TO RECEIVE BY eMAIL LATER IN THE YEAR.  IF YOU WANT SEVERAL FOR FRIENDS, JUST EMAIL ME AND I WILL POST SOME.  ALL THOSE TAKING PART WILL HAVE SPARE COPIES TOO.  WE CAN NO LONGER USE THE POST OR ADVERTISE IN THE GLOSSY MAGAZINES - THE EXPENSE IS JUST TOO GREAT, and we find our friends are the best contact medium!  I will probably bore you with further notes about the Fair, but want to give details of the sellers so that you can make a first call at their stalls and find your special bits!  This could be my final Fair here at No 29, but I did say that last year and I am still going, and turning out the last remains of my once rather huge stock!

    We have a splendid group of sellers all lined up - several new  private collectors who are downsizing in their special groups - photographers, stylists, journalists and others with newly inherited stuff.  All the original 6 regular traders from  the 1990s T4T Fairs are coming, as always, so you will find many familiar faces, though their goods will no doubt be new and special.  Our last Rag Market was a most successful and happy event and a repeat seems in order!  Do come, free entry and Ginny's lovely refreshments as usual!
Our sunny terrace makes a good  spot for a convivial meeting place, when you want to stop and drop, and Natasha, in the wine vaults below, is running a depot to guard heavy parcels for you! (Small black iron gate on Church Street)
Sue Stokes of  Lacock shop, will show her brilliant collection of genuine French Brocante and work wear in the Vaults at 29 Church Street, Bradford on Avon on Sunday, June 15th, 2014.


     For new readers of my Blog, I am taking this space to introduce some of the many textile traders who have attended our Fairs, some more than forty times.   Thanks to their support,  the informal fair group, Talents for Textiles,  has flourished, growing into fairs that attract several hundred visitors and providing a very necessary outlet for all the skilled and dedicated traders who almost all work from home and find it quite difficult to contact new buyers.   Advertising is very costly and the big trade fairs are too expensive; also it is extremely difficult to display large items of household linen, curtains and other decorations on a small stand, with the extra problems of poor lighting and  lots of dust!   The fact that all the original dealers of the first few fairs are still with us and have hardly ever missed one fair just shows how hard-working and dedicated they are.  They have connected with many good  clients and business is done in a very friendly atmosphere.  Below are some of the original stallholders still with us.
                                                  Liz, Rosie,Caroline,Polly, Linda, Loveday
Members of the Talents for Textiles team 1990s

                                    To contact us for all news of our Fairs, Email   

Sunday, 6 April 2014


    This expression was much used by Welsh-speaking people during my childhood in North Wales,.  They were very poor and lived very hard lives in the old farms and cottages round my home.  There was no running water,  and I saw the women carrying buckets with  yokes from a well or the nearest stream, no heating of course, except an old black stove in the kitchen and a little coal in the parlour.  The best china was often kept  in a cheap and ugly glass cabinet in this front room,  often exchanged for good old Welsh oak dressers and shelves which the local dealers from Chester and more prosperous areas cleared, making a good profit. The farm women loved bright lustreware and Derby with all its brilliant colours amidst all the dark brown furniture and flooring, and this was the only decoration.apart from a few photographs of weddings and religious pictures, and very gaudy wall paper, with a border below the ceiling if they could afford it. Quilts were not common in N.Wales, but the woollen blankets were pretty and very warm
               In the kitchen there were often flag stones or quarry tiles which were mopped every day, and they often had odd rag rugs made from worn out clothing.  In one farm I saw a strange brick built 'pen' just by the fire and was told that was where they put sick animals, but if they had a sickly child or an imbecile in the family (there were a great many because of inter-marriage with close relations or possibly incest) it was a safe, warm place for them and quite common.   To send a child to a home was beyond most families.    Baths were taken in big old tin washing tubs, filled by kettles from the stove and the water and soap were shared by all the family, and there always seemed to be a new baby to admire.  The lavatories were all outside in little sheds and with long wooden boards with different sized seat holes, a pile of newspaper and buckets below and a supply of earth or sand.  We, children, thought it was fascinating and never realised how much work and discomfort were involved in these primitive arrangements.  We thought the paraffin lamps and candles were very pretty and loved the rocking chairs of the old people, and if we were lucky, were given a warm Crempog (pancake) with butter and jam dripping through our fingers.  We visited them with food gifts and clothes before Christmas, and it did open my eyes to what real poverty was like.


 We used to see the children walking down our drive to go to school, walking in the rain to catch the school bus at our lodge, and sometimes one might be missing as it was not their turn to wear the little boots they walked in.  There were often 7 or 8 children in a family, though rampant T.B. took many away to sanatorias (it came from the cows milk)and my father helped to start the dairy co-operative that tested the milk and the cows and the disease was slowly obliterated.   The girls mostly trained for housework in large houses and local seaside hotels where there was work for them, or worked in the local hospitals as nursing trainees.  They were very small and rather pretty, and the boys, often rather wild,  mostly helped on the farms with their fathers.  It was a very hard life for all of them and the wives and mothers always looked worn out and strained,  with child bearing and almost all suffered 'rheumatics' and back troubles in their old age.;  the houses were damp and very cold all winter..  For health they  were 'on the panel' with the local doctors but found the charges and cost of medicines very onerous and often put off getting help - the district nurse coped with most things and she bicycled miles with her little bag to dose the children for worms (cabbage water) endless colds and coughs, and the infectious skin complaint, empitigo which was painted with a lurid purple tincture.

  I went to the local school myself and learnt quite a lot of Welsh, but found the maths, difficult enough for me in English, were more than I could manage and I was very unhappy about this, aged 5years old.
My mother took me there by car but I saw the little stove blazing bright and hot  at one end of the big classroom, which had a circular guard all round it and a rail for hanging all the wet coats that the children arrived in after walking miles, and they all steamed dry during the day ready to be put on for the return walk. - no umbrellas and no gum boots!   The lavatories were dark and dangerous places for the very young, and the playground was also quite an adventure and the little girls stuck to tight groups avoiding the big rough boys!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014


Jen Jones in her Welsh cottage
   I think most of us admire a pretty quilt, but it is only after seeing Jen Jones' wonderful exhibitions of Welsh quilts that I have started to learn and appreciate the huge amount of skill and the high quality of the designs.  As I am myself part Welsh I have always admired Jen's lasting passion for this folk art especially as she was raised in the U.S.A., (and married a Welshman),and the way she has not only collected hundreds of examples, but also researched the provenance, the fabrics, the stitching and the patterns so that she is the world expert in her field.   She has had exhibitions and lectures on an international scale; her Museum at Lampeter is fast becoming a "must see".    Tracking these family treasures has been a long and arduous career for her, driving to obscure farms on lonely lanes, sometimes to find a few remnants of past glories, but occasionally finding a rare treasure which her well-trained eyes can  recognise and she has the essential knowledge of repair and cleaning work to add to their restoration.   The examples I show here are from a catalogue of quilts displayed in association with some of the the famous Kaffe Fasset collection she showed last year.  You can visit her shop and the exhibiton centre in Lampeter all through the summer and there is a home-made food cafe so it makes a great day out for 'sewing' ladies. Telephone 01570 422088 e.                          Jen Jones has brought a big selection of her quilts at all prices, as well as the rare old wool blankets in stripes and checks, to our Talent for Textile Fairs in Bradford on Avon and at Yarlington, and The American Museum, Bath, so she is a very familiar friend and we are sorry that because of increased business commitments in Lampeter she cannot join us for our Fair this year.  We wish her well and must make the journey in reverse and visit her in her lovely new Museum. The quilts below are part of her special collection of wholecloth  examples with the finest stitching.