Monday, 27 September 2010

French Leave

Once again off to gather a few bits but mostly to extend the summer and find peaceful uncrowded  places to explore Back on 15th Elizabeth.  Entry on 19.10.10.  this date turned out to be over-optimistic - we got involved in the French strikes on our return and as all transport services were cancelled, we had to drive the long journey from Avignon home (over 900 miles) instead of the ease and comfort of Auto-train, TGV and Calais crossing.  The worst was not knowing if the petrol strike would catch us out and the fact that none of the services would give out any info. at all, even the telephone and Websites were blank!  We saw the gathering crowds of schoolchildren and many others gathering for the manifestations and suspected it would become ugly and spread fast - and so it did and does.
The weather was perfect, a French Indian summer,  and we took our ease in a favourite hotel with lovely terraces and gardens , had many a picnic and some good meals - the French can still cook!  But life is now very expensive and the antique goods are mostly far too high for re-sale.   However,  I did load up with masses of old French bleues, the old workmens' dark blue jackets, blousons, shirts and aprons - all attractive old workwear that is enjoying a fashion moment in this country - and especially among the young in London.   I now have a good row in many sizes hanging on the washing line, and they make a change from the  popular white and cream linen and hemp smock- shirts which I also bought in quantity.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

French Seams and Top Ideas

My latest lot of vintage French curtains, all of the salon or reception room type, have individual details which I find fascinating and inspiring.. There are so many ways to construct and hang fine curtains and I hope a short account might interest would-be curtain makers who want that little extra touch. Now that pelmets are not so fashionable, the top gathering and pleating of the curtains is important and can give a touch of luxury and expertise that may please you and your guests! The first is a cord trimmed top, where a thick cord matching the richest colour in the silky tapestry woven curtain, is laid and knotted over the goblet pleats - very effective if the cord is really chunky and slightly glossy - silk of course is the best. Two pairs and an extra bed curtain available now.

The second, pastel chintz Indienne, has hand-covered buttons placed over the soft gathered pleats and the leading edge and the bottom have a charming gathered frill with piping holding it in place, just R. of button,- every seam and frill and all piping is entirely hand sewn with the tiniest stitches, as well as the lining of course. 6 curtains, but only 5 tie backs! The third example is a single pair in a fine cotton print with simple gathered top and it does have a pelmet which is gathered in 5 soft ruched swags, all edged with very good (and complete) pom-pom trim. I would say very suited to a pretty bedroom or small sitting room. All curtains are at least 8' drop, in very good condition, date from 1880s, and are for sale at moderate prices. View by appointment near Bath, email

Thursday, 16 September 2010


Pagodas, fishermen, parasols and exotic birds conjure up a Chinese scene for me and my very favourite fabrics are the Chinoiserie prints of 18th C France. Many were copied from the designs of Jean Pillement whose etchings inspired fabrics, wallpaper, lacquer work and porcelain. The beauty and richness of Eastern civilisations was carried by the ships of the East India Companies to the great ports of Lorient, Marseille , Amsterdam and London, and the rich and fashionable classes eagerly adopted the new decorative styles. and copied them for their houses and wardrobes.

The Dancing Lesson is one of the most charming and I have a large panel of this in the raspberry red colour which was one of the most popular colours produced from Madder plants and cheaper than some of the other vegetable dyes. Toile de Jouy was expensive, even then, and was often mixed with the Toile de Vichy a large red/white check to complete the furnishing in a room, lining pelmets, backing chairs and making bed valances.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Children's Towels, Help me find

I have just had an SOS from dealer friend asking for a source for Victorian children's towels - I have never seen or heard of them but there may be some lurking out there and if so the film co. will be very grateful -contact me at if you have anything likely. I have had a lot of dealings with wardrobe ladies and it is well worth running round for them as they are always short of time, their deadlines are terribly short and they do tend to come back to you if you can help. I have just sold a load of damaged linen sheets for dyeing and making up for another epic film and was pleased that someone (as always) found a good use for 'seconds'.
I will give you full credit, of course.