Monday, 28 December 2009


I have just been reading an interesting piece on making a success of a stand at an antique or other Fair, and thought I might pass on a few hints. First, arrive in good time so that you can park near your 'goods' entrance, be it house, hall or marquee. When booking, remember that most people go round clockwise, so a stand near the entrance is good, also corners can be useful if you want to display hangings, curtains and long pieces of linen.
Find your place and mark it out well with table(s) and chair - sometimes your neighbours have adjusted things a bit to your disadvantage so check size with what you have paid for. Spread your cloths over tables and bring your containers in so they can sit either behind or directly in front of tables and display furniture. Then remove your car to exhibitors car park which is a courtesy to other stallholders waiting to park and unload. If you have a lot to show, make a good square or semi circle so that everything is within reach from the front, except stuff which is hung back of your stand on rails or screens. Do not set up a table across the entrance of your stand, as your aim must be to persuade buyers to come into your 'shop' and linger and discover, and to discuss things with you. Remember good lighting is a huge bonus, but be careful that spotlights cannot be touched and burn - and textiles are highly inflammable.
Finally, give yourself time for refreshment before the opening and time to dress yourself as attractively as possible (after all, you are selling good taste and style) and do not think of reading a paper or book sitting on a chair with your back to the customers; they then feel that you are not interested in them and will not disturb you. Eye contact and a smile give a much better impression! Have a good supply of printed trade cards with details of goods and services available, offer one to every person who passes, saying they might need to contact you in future.
Personally I have always found it very effective to have a large basket or other attractive container, really full of something small and inexpensive, price clearly visible, not available elsewhere, whether it be bundles of scraps for quilting, little jam jars full of buttons, little pill boxes or any old haberdashery items like wooden cotton reels, lengths of tape or ribbon, which intrigue children, and tempt the grown-ups, and give you the chance to engage in conversation.
Everything you do on your stand must be to encourage the public to stop and look - passers-by are of no use to you and your sales results.

Monday, 7 December 2009


And then I wondered about the shocking pink textile background - was this well known British photographer, Martin Parr, trying to tell us something - that the country she lived in could produce a joyous and startling burst of colour among all the detritus of wars, floods and misery? and then I wondered AGAIN, what would I save if I could take only one thing - should my house catch on fire, the River Avon, only one street away, should the river burst its banks and I had to climb out of a window? What would I clutch? It all seemed so futile and hopeless that I decided there and then to tidy my house up from top to toe and that's what I have been doing for the last week - finding good homes for surplus furniture, charity shops for excess clothes, books and kitchen gadgets - in between I have rounded up all the sewing, mending jobs, hoovered behind and under every lump of furniture, cleaned every hanging light, got my showrooms into apple-pie order (and made some apple-pies with the last of the harvest apples) so thank you, Mr. Parr, for sparking my re-formation of house and belongings and I do hope that the sad lady in KOREA HAS MORE THAN ONE PICTURE TO LOOK AFTER AND HAS SOMEWHERE TO HANG THE PRECIOUS MOMENTO!

Sunday, 22 November 2009


Checking out the bathroom.
A blue-eyed boy .
Mr. Blue and White, otherwise the late well-known and admired decorator, Roger Banks-Pye of Colefax and Fowler, had a 'thing' for everything striped, checked and shaded blue. His lofty Belgravian flat was clad from top to toe with patches and remnants, fringed and frayed, in every shade of blue. The curtains, which may well have been the famous pair invented by his hero, John Fowler, made from blue and white tea towels or possibly large handkerchiefs, hung at the windows and the bathroom had small squares of all different blue/white combinations with edges trimmed and frayed, stuck to the walls chequerboard fashion, with Spray Mount. If you have enough different shades of blue, it all melds together in a pleasing way, a pile of tickings, ginghams and voile casually arranged on a chest or sideboard always catch everyone's eye. Add some cornish blue striped kitchenware and a blue enamel bowl and you will be on to a good scheme.

Simple, effective, cheap and witty!

Saturday, 14 November 2009


This little travailleuse or work -bag, is so typically French. Made with the greatest care for a specific use and made as pretty as possible for a lady who cared about her tools and accessories. It is of course meant to contain her current work, whether crochet, knitting or needlework and can be moved around with the greatest ease with two little ribbon handles that close the top when lifted, out of the way of cats, feet and busy cleaning ladies! The fabric is a scrap of old Indienne, lined in matching pink with a handy little pocket for scissors and buttons, and the crossed legs are finely turned to make it elegant and light to move. The old materials which can be carefully removed to repair and wash, are often quite interesting document pieces and if damaged, can be used for smaller projects - waste not! The screen in background is 4 fold and covered in a pretty pink toile. It is almost identical with the piece in the following blog, but smaller scale and with less curls and flowers, with classical beauties having a love-ly time. NOW SOLD. Still trying to find out its name! see Monsieur Cl0uzot blog e earlier and HELP ME DATE earlier

Thursday, 12 November 2009


I found this odd little bit in a pile of old cotton 19c. from a Bordeaux chateau. It is rather charming but I find the mix of children's games with willow pattern images rather odd and wonder where it might have been used - nursery or bedroom curtains? As is usual in prints of this period, (circa 1900?) the children are wearing miniature versions of the grown ups and I can imagine that wearing a big and flouncy hat with feathers must have been a trial for the little girl bowling her hoop. I once had eight such hoops with their iron guiding 'sticks' from a closed -down ironmongers and they soon ran away from me!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Monsieur Clouzot, help me track these lovely people

Further to last month's S.O.S. for more info re a large bedcover or wall hanging which might be Toile de Jouy, I attach some close-ups of main features: hope we can give this genre design a name - it is so very lovely and romantic and the people are all so beautiful! There seem to be so many symbols of love and peace, as well as grand fountains and triumphal arches!

Sunday, 8 November 2009


I have had a very busy and interesting week and am now discovering just how useful the internet is as a trading tool, for both contacts and the selling/purchase of goods. My website (quite recently published by my own efforts with help from Linda and Co.) is now bringing in overseas general enquiries for hemp, linen and long chateaux curtains, all my specialities. This week I had one from S.America, one from S. Africa, and one from Tasmania. I was then able to inform with details of any particulr request, like a long set of best damask linen table napkins for a special party, with scans on my computer of the weave, initials and family crests, with price and condition - I find it best to deal in table linen only if in immaculate condition so there are no hidden surprises. For long curtains, I have some special French tapestry hanging brass rods placed very high in a good light and can hang a sample up and digital photo it to attach to my email in return. This last week, I have thus been able to send info. and scans of furnishings for U.S. city appartment being designed for a new foreign client, have them checked by the London decorator, confirmed by client, relayed to me and bingo! I can instruct seamstress with latest orders! All in one day! Blackberries take a bow. I don't have one (yet). The other overseas contact wanted chateau curtains for an English drawing room, and the lady Down Under is keen on linen and ticking for making up as she cannot get to France easily! A parcel is already done up waiting for the Post Office to pull its socks up. It is high time they got real with modern techno.

Saturday, 31 October 2009



Monday, 19 October 2009



Sunday, 18 October 2009


Sometimes I have a good clear out of my surplus cloth trunk - mostly remnants of hand-woven coarse linen and hemp which are left over from cushion making, which in turn are usually made from left overs from curtains. They are a bit heavy for normal quilts and collage work but I have for a long time sent them off to Fine Cell Work in London, where they are eagerly awaited and put to very good use. It is easy to embroider directly on the evenly spaced threads without need for canvas and patterns. F.C.W. was founded several years ago by a distinguished prison visitor Lady Anne Tree, who desperately wanted to find something for the lifers (long -time prisoners) to do and to be able to earn some money for comforts and save for their eventual release. She hit on the brilliant idea of encouraging them to do canvaswork cushions to designs donated by several of her top designer friends, and the Royal School of Needlework found needlewomen who were willing to go into the prisons and teach the inmates how to work - one of the really practical and helpful ideas was that the prisoners could continue with their work in their cells so they were occupied and trained and felt there was more purpose to their life 'inside' The movement has been a huge success and many prisons are now waiting for the scheme to be introduced - more than 20 are already involved and report that it has had a remarkable and good effect on the lifers, who previously thought they were forgotten and were deeply depressed. Fine Cell Work welcomes the chance to show the very fine work they produce at large country houses where the cushions and quilts can be seen and where the hostess has a good invitation list to bring the buyers in. They will undertake personal commisioned work, and the standard of work is truly
excellent. FINE CELL WORK 0207 931 9998, 38 BUCKINGHAM PALACE RD. SW1 0RL

Saturday, 10 October 2009

A Quick Curtain Turn-Around

Elsewhere I have told of a recent haul of top quality silk and designer print curtains, all from a mansion in USA. I had a surprise visitor last month who was looking to re-decorate a spacious apartment overseas and wanting extremely tall curtains - I was delighted to be able to supply all that were needed and also to suggest the skilled workers who could re-make and adjust the very luxurious fabrics to very exact measurements.. It needed a mix of straight maths and some geometry to work it all out but these clever ladies are taking all in their stride and all will be done in 4 weeks and the curtains will be speeding back to their new home. I have had two more enquiries for lots of very large curtains for high ceilings and windows since then - it is obvious that people are trying to insulate large rooms and economise on heating this winter and the re-cycle ethic is playing an important part in all walks of life. I am delighted to think that one person's extravagance is now turned into another's eco -decorating. I still have two pairs curtains left, chic terracotta foliage,Pierre Frey, 7'6" drop, and pretty blue/yellow flower print 9'5" drop. £550 for two pairs each design., both with sumptuous deep pelmets with very expensive trimmings. all lined and interlined and hand sewn. There is also one pair of ivory pure silk curtains - very elegant! 12ft drop and 8'3 wide, £350.(sorry, now sold)But I have just collected another stash of similar rich curtains, drapes etc. from same source so am in business again!

Friday, 25 September 2009

The thrill of the chase!

At the recent Montpelier Fair, I passed a big furniture stand and a cardboard box, suitcase size. Seeing a bit of pink print, I dug in and found a hoard of remnants of my favourite Indienne prints, all pinky red. A burly trader said there was another box if I was interested - was I???
With beating heart and shaky hands I counted over 200 smallish pieces, ideal for cushions, and some much bigger panels, enough for several pairs of bedroom curtains. Some were as new, bright and unused, others had tack holes round the edges and some were very faded - a very motley lot
The dealer then volunteered that they were all toile de Jouy (which they were not) and they had all come from the greniers (attics) of the Chateau de la Brede, the seat of the Baron Montesquieu near Bordeaux. By strange coincidence I had read that week in my copy of Aladin, the French trade magazine, that the papers of the original 18c. Baron, a world-famous philosopher, politician and writer, were being removed from the chateau to be put in an official archive. The box holding the fabric was an official one with an archive label 'borrowed ' by the rascally trader! So provenance o.k., but how had they been used? He told me they came from the cupboards and attics and I think that they must have been used to decorate the panelling in three or four rooms and the cut-offs had also been saved by a thrifty housekeeper. There is quite a lot of genuine Jouy toile, late 18c. and this is a rustic genre design on good quality linen, nice and bright and with lots of useful cameos to make cushion centres, called L'Escarpolette, The Swing, The greater part of this hoard is late 19c. Indiennes, charming and colourful, but not of the same rarity or value. See Tracking Red Indiennes Blog., for more about Indiennes from this lot.

Tracking Red Indiennes

I find the Indiennes, produced in France in the last half of the 19th C. a source of delight - they come in many colours but the pink and red ones showing birds, insects and foliage are my favourites. They became very fashionable in France when the Empress Eugenie was on the throne and she had a passion for 'la nature' particularly as depicted in the Indian prints imported on the East India trading routes. French mills were quick to copy and re-design the gorgeous Eastern flowers, bamboo foliage and some of the birds might well have come out of French gardens, but many were very exotic with extravagant plumage and tails. They were all done in a pleasing naturalistic style and the scenes were often embellished with pretty butterflies, bees and other insects all in flight amongst the foliage. The earlier prints had very small birds and the foliage was often delicate, like bamboo or long grasses, but towards the end of the century they became coarser and the birds became rather fierce-looking raptors with large beaks and claws. They were printed on very fine cotton, and probably glazed so they have often faded in the windows and are rather flimsy - I have used several panels in my own house which I thought too fragile to sell to others and have devised a way of lengthening both the size and their life-span in my own way -the birds are multi-coloured and so are various small flowers. These are in my visitor's cloakroom, so pay them a visit one day!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009


Many of the pretty modern printed cottons are in fact adaptations of older ones - often with small changes in colour shades, the spacing of the designs and other changes like tiny spots, or 'vermiculite' or sea-weed backgrounds omitted - they are pretty enough but still, to me, lose some of the vintage charm of the originals - the whites are very ice cold, and the other colours do not have the mellow shades that make them easy to blend with other colours. I particularly like the 1890s patterns, called Indiennes full of exotic Eastern flowers and others which often have border designs, with little ovals of garden tools or little birds and lots of bows and ribbons weaving in and out, usually in soft pinks and reds in the main parts, with touches of grey, blue and yellow. Green is quite rare as it was a very fugitive dye which faded badly, and not popular with French decorators. The Indiennes are usually printed on very fine cotton so they are often damaged. A later Post will give you my ideas on using fragile fabrics, and more examples of Indiennes

I sometimes find small remnants of these charming old cottons, unused and unfaded and use them to make the small sack-like bags that hang from the bars of travailleuses, which are folding, cross-legged portable sewing baskets, very popular with Edwardian ladies who spent a great deal of the day working on their needlework, and no doubt moved the work-bag about the room to get a good light and keep the materials clean and tidy.  I have sold a great many, refurbished with Indiennes and new frills, and lots seem to go to knitters and tapestry workers who like to have everything tidy and to hand!

Sunday, 23 August 2009


Some years ago I made an opportunity to visit the Citadelle, Port Louis, near Lorient, Brittany, to see a brilliant array of goods shipped in the great importing days of the East India Companies. Not only were there wonderful examples of the textiles, decorations, and clothing made with the chintzes, including some Toile de Jouy inspired by these exotic designs, but there were also examples of porcelain and other goods made for the European market, and in addition, some interesting, details of the lay-out of the slave ships, complete with model figures of the crews and passengers, and many other models of the fortress and the sail ships in times of war - so there was much to interest children and people keen on naval history. Both my husband and I thought it was one of the most fascinating places to visit and the huge fortifications were on a vast scale with rooms for ammunition, powder, etc. all open to the public for a modest entrance charge. Check times and dates   If you were camping with children and the weather was typical rainy stormy SAtlantic type, it is a good place to lose them for a few hours, there is so much to intrigue and see.
 The nearby harbour of Lorient was one of the main bases of German Uboats during the last war, but now Lorient is the centre for a big gathering of Celtic musicians, singers and dancers every August - a strange mixture of ancient and modern; the Uboats were latest technology and the songs and dances go back to medieval times.  All through the day small groups of musicians wander round the town in their local costumes and rehearse and dance at street corners which makes it a good spectacle.


You could write pages on any one of these lovely textiles, wall hangings, bedcovers, shawls and clothing. I have long had a pair of curtains in my dining room (see earlier Post titles: Heavenly Curtains and knew they were from a famous firm of French cloth manufacturers, Braquenie, whose printing blocks and designs had been bought some time ago by Pierre Frey. They are copies of an antique design called Le Grand de Genne.(Genoa.) It is well known that the Italians there copied some of the palampores from India, mid 19c. and they were worn as shawls by ladies over their crinoline dresses for warmth and protection - These were called mezzaras and are very desirable in good condition. The palimpores were produced on the Indian Coromandel Coast from the 16th C. in an unbelievably complicated process, then called chintz, i.e. painted cloth. The different colours were applied by hand with a little pointed bamboo stick with a small reservoir, or by hand-applied carved or etched blocks and there were endless treatments of dyes, mordants, waxing, washing, bleaching etc. till the design reached its completion - often more than 8' square and occasionally done in pairs, usually on very fine, smoothly woven Indian cotton which could be painted with great accuracy. See the new reference book Chintz, (detailed illustrations and many facts) by Rosemary Crill, of the V.and A. Museum, out this year. More later!

Friday, 14 August 2009


If ever you think of going on a quick trip to France to look at the Belles Brocantes of France, but don't want to tackle the slightly daunting business of arranging travel, accommodation and sourcing the best markets, with not too much knowledge of the language, you might like to think of joining my good friend and long -time stallholder at antique fairs, Rosie Murton, who is now taking small groups to good markets near to Paris, organises transport door to door, advises on money, exchange,and how to bargain for the desirable items you want for your home or garden. She will provide all the know-how and practical help you will need to buy successfully and bring (modest) amounts of your purchases back with you in her own vehicle. She has been sourcing from markets all over France for years and is much admired for her good eye as well as her excellent contacts over there.. She is also a very helpful and friendly person, will give you an enjoyable time and look after you in every way. The accommodation is central, clean and simple, good meals can be shared with one or two others and as the bedrooms are shared, you might prefer to come with a friend . The tour is well planned and energetic, with no frills, early starts to catch the markets, but it will set you off in the right direction for future bargain hunting. Sue S. recently returned with a lovely load of stuff after her first trip, was elated to have sold most a couple of weeks later at a Northern Fair at a handsome profit. Tally Ho! AllonsY! This 'puff'' is totally unsolicited by Rosie, I would just like to help her get this good small project going.
Contact Rosie Murton 01952 883 709

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Time Warp

I have always been interested in, and attracted to, the bold patterns of painted walls in Elizabethan houses ever since I saw some at Queens Hoo, nr. Tewin, Herts, which was owned by an aunt. So when I saw an article and photos about a young artist, Melissa White, who was painting wall hangings and plaster decorations, I contacted her, hoping that my old handspun, hand-woven linen might be useful in re-creating ancient decorations. She was, by chance, coming this way on a course run by a good friend of mine, Victor Chinnery, who is a leading expert on Tudor furnishings and buildings, so it all came together and she spent a night here and went on to the Merchants House in Marlborough with its fabulous painted 'Rainbow' room, brilliant stripes all round and a wonderful staircase with 'shadow' bannisters opposite the real ones, in a building open to the public. They went on to Exeter where the Museum there has rescued a complete English pannelled room from the Hearst archives/stores in USA, never unpacked (!), set it all up in the Exeter Museum, and it turns out that it had all been taken from a building a few streets away - what a coincidence! She did some work there later. Now Melissa has started designing 'Elizabethan' cushions on hemp, linen and vintage velvet remnants and you can see her work on line.. She can be contacted at for info. and commissions. If you have any really nice vintage velvet, I will pass on messages for her.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

A legendary Dealer

I was lucky to meet Bryony Thomasson early in my time as a French junk and brocante dealer.
She was a highly intelligent, well educated lady who left a business career as recruiting officer in the electrical industry, to become the best known dealer in artefacts, folk art and rustic items from La France Profonde. She was used by many major film wardrobe directors during the time of Fleurette and other productions showing the true poverty and tragic stories of the paysans. She lived in a small terrace house in Fulham and her living area was an incredible showcase of everything that she collected and loved from the farms and small workshops in France.There was a cascade of string and ropes, nets for chickens, rabbits, hammocks for sick horses, halters, girth webbing, whips and blinkers - piles of the roughest sheets, sacks, seed bags and curls of horsehair for filling mattresses, hanks of coarse thread for weavers, as well as her own special collections, (not for sale )- tiny buttons from uniforms, silk and cotton foulards (neckerchiefs worn inside the shirt collar) and then the rows of all the old clothes, especially men's which are always so hard to find; berets, les bleues working trousers, jackets and her beloved smocks in polished cotton worn by the maraicheurs (small market garden dealers)to go to market and to wear at Mass and also the quarterly hiring fairs. She was so generous with her experience and deep knowledge and much loved and respected by her French suppliers. She drove a tall red van with a stove, some bedding and a bicycle at the ready. She was first at every fair on her bike wheeling down the aisles and there would be piles awaiting her arrival. Her collections of vintage clothing inspired several top couturiers and her strong language and stories of intrepid travels endeared her to many. Her constant companion was the maraicheur Jean- seen above.

Monday, 8 June 2009

My Work Station

Good light, a good view, comfy upright seat, my wonderful Necchi sewing machine and my radio to hand, set the scene for my hobby - re-cycling old French rags into acceptable, useful accessories for home and person! I bought my Necchi complete with worktable for £42, 40 years ago in Colchester at Reeman and Dansie salerooms - the motor burnt out last year - disaster, as spares no longer available; but at last found local electronic genius to fix everything and it is purring away once more. I have a very large flat-bed iron (Blanca Press for all the linen, which will iron a sheet folded in 4 very well and no effort for me as I just sit there pulling levers and thinking about my next Blog! The sheets are all folded in exactly the same way so I can separate the long from the short in my store and I remove any iron stains with the excellent Rubigine Anti-Rouille bottle from French supermarkets. Check the small stain removal shelves next to the detergents.
This room was a dressing room with huge cupboards where I can store all my materials, and with two multi-drawer chests, I have everything I need easily to hand, and it is a real pleasure to get down to work with no telephone, T.V. or computer to bother me for an hour or two.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Little Treasure, much Pleasure

I found these little accessories for sewing and embroidery at the last Ilminster T4T Fair on April 1.. All beautifully packed and a delight to group round my sewing table. A small sliding tray filled with linen covered buttons, with a ribbon pull, a fascinating DCM book with masses of miniature cross stitch patterns for borders and many different alphabets and list of booklets for all kinds of needlework, a star shaped disc for linen thread and a funny little booklet with 'fancy' designs for the 'little ones' by Owbridges's Lung Tonic -hope it made the medicine go down! I bought them all for pocket money prices and will pass them on in due course at our American Museum T4T Textile Fair early September. If you want to come, contact me for the green free card invitation.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Long live linen!

You can see how effective even a short length of red Toile de Jouy pelmet looks, and the cool nubbly texture of hand-woven linen or hemp, softly folded, makes a delightful combination. A good piece of toile like this might cost between £80-£150, depending on condition, and a couple of large sheets about £60 each, (for a large window) with minimal sewing work. The sheets filter the light and stand up to full sun very well, but an off-white blind could be added so that the drapes could be nicely arranged and stay put. Using sheets, you can add narrow bands of striped ticking down the leading edge, and along the bottom seam, making a neat mitre turn at the front corner, with tie -backs in the same material, or you can add a good fringe or braid trim about 4 inches away from the leading edge and this makes a nice silhouette when the curtains are drawn back, as the front edge tends to curl over. I always have enough Toile to do up several 4 poster beds and can suggest many ways of 'stretching' the available fabric!

About Me

The first picture shows me putting finishes touches to some lace-edged fine linen in my workroom. I chose this as I wanted this blog website to be a personal one for those who share my passion for old French fabrics, who wish to buy and collect good examples, and who would also like to extend their knowledge of this rich and wonderful branch of domestic life. I intend to show photos of typical examples of the best I have seen in thirty years of searching and buying, and to pass on some of the knowledge and lore I have gained from the older French dealers I have known.
I hope it will be possible for you to visit me to see the huge stocks I have in the old wine vaults of my classic Georgian house. You can visit me any time by telephone appointment and I will be happy to show you how I have used many of the lesser known domestic linens for my furnishings and to help you plan for your own. The following 'posts' will describe some of the highlights of my trade as well as news of forthcoming events and good addresses for further sourcing. I like to share all this with my customers, both private and trade, so do keep downloading!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Cupboard Love

A traditional English smock made to order for me by a farmer's wife in Dorset, with Dorset buttons made by another skilled lady in Milton Abbas nearby, I wore this garment to Chelsea Flower Show one summer and 3 people stopped me to ask where they could find similar - alas! the lady was killed in a road accident and never made another. The stuff was called drabbet, the smocking and buttons were done with Anchor embroidery hanks and the collar, yoke and cuffs were all double to take a lot of wear and washing. Beside it is a pretty Kashmir woollen shawl and in the background a useful chart depicting the crowns and titles of the French and other 'noblesse' so I can check on my linen to see if it once belonged to a Duc or just a mere Count!
The cupboard is part of a huge Regency housekeeper's linen cupboard that I found in Bath. It has a special panel to lock everything away and was used for the safe-keeping of fine linen in a big household., The housekeeper or mistress of the house kept the key on her waistband chatelaine and doled out the sheets to the housemaids who made up the beds. In a few months, I shall put up this wonderful Irish housekeepers linen cupboard for sale as the room it is in is to be converted to a spare room, with new bathroom ensuite, and, sadly, there is no wall wide enough to take it when I move beds in. Details from me 01225 866 136. The linen tablecloths stack neatly in it and there is an interesting 3o's Art Deco hat box and another metal one, now sold. Go to my website for further details re linen.

Friday, 6 March 2009

A Pig in a Poke

This is how I got into buying sheets in a big way and became, I believe, the biggest dealer, ending up with a stock of over 800!

I stopped at a Brocante shed near Marmande in the South West - usual sign said 'ferme' - CLOSED - so rang the tel. no. scribbled there. Madame answered, slightly breathless, saying she had just collected a huge load in her van and would I like to come and view it all. By the time we reached her ramshackle farm, she had opened not only her van doors but a good bottle (or two) to recover from loading it. An amazing sight it was - pile upon pile of creamy (and grubby) sheets, bolster cases, tablecloths, napkins and hundreds of torchons, the entire contents of an old vineyard farm's linen store. The van was chock-a-block.
Madame was now fairly incoherent but dismised it all as useless old peasant stuff and wanted to sell us 'much better things'. Though I had no idea of the value or use of this load, she acepted a ridiculous bid for the lot, much to our amazement, and we spent the evening loading it into our van and trailer. When I got home I hung a pair of the lovely coarse hemp sheets in my spare bedrom as temporary curtains - everyone adored them and I had a wonderful new use for sheets, an idea which was copied by a great many decorators, and the French housewives then started turning out all their old sheets, regardless of condition!! And so it all began.....

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Fine French Linens and Fabrics

If you love France with its wonderful countryside and fascinating history, follow me, a passionate admirer of the French way of life, and I will show you some of the treasures I have collected over the past thirty years, and pass on some of the lore and provenance that I have gathered from many of the old country dealers known as brocanteurs.

Sewing a Fine Seam. I introduce myself, as a 'vintage' textile and antiques dealer, with this picture of me working on some old linen. I am keen to re-cycle all this beautiful old stuff from the great armoires of French households, and it is all on sale by appointment in the 4 large wine vaults of our Georgian town house in Bradford on Avon, near Bath.

Because my unequalled and large stock is unique and of varying size, quality and colour, dating back to the 19th Century, I am not able to describe each piece fully and recommend you to pay me a visit (by appointment) to view and choose suitable pieces for your projects. You can see examples decorating my own classic house and I am very happy to advise and help you.

My fabrics have been used by top well known decorators and consultants for houses ranging from Shakespeare's Birthplace up to contemporary Trump Tower, NY. To view typical examples of my stock with approximate sizes and prices, go to my website