Sunday, 29 August 2010

The Real Thing

This charming scene is one of the designs by Jean Baptiste HUET who drew many scenes for the original Toile de Jouy factory. He was specially gifted in drawing animals and rustic scenes in a romantic and idealised style. This is dated 1783 - 89 and is only known in red. The toile is named l'Escarpolette (The Swing) with all its romantic associations and also shows a coach and donkey carrying the happy couple away! Several large unused pieces, bright as could be, had been stashed away in the attics of the Chateau de Montesquieu, nr. Bordeaux, and appeared at a country Antique Fair, where I spotted them in a dirty cardboard box.
Funnily enough, the seller told me it was a Beautiran print, (he came from nearby Bordeaux) but when I found it in my book of Jouy patterns, that made it that much more special! Jouy is much sought after and it was good to find even a snippet in good condition. Each little scene could make the centre of a luxurious cushion or chair seat! Would M. Huet approve??

Saturday, 28 August 2010


All hand embroidery

On my last visit to France I had the luck to purchase the entire contents of a linen room, all from a prosperous bourgeois house where everything was of the best quality. I have now sorted it all out and can offer a lot of extremely good value linens, all clean, pressed and ready for use. Remember that a lot of French 'double' sheets are only just over 6' wide so these are a really good buy if you have a normal English size bed:
Extra long fine weave linen double bed sheets 10' long X 7' and 8'width
some with openwork hemstitching £20 - 25 each
Fine linen initialled double bed sheets with similar borders, extra large £45 each
Finest cotton percale double bed sheets, very large, 4 rows of drawn thread work and reveres
very bright white, £55 each, as new. 2 different pairs large fine linen, superb initials (pics.) £85 each, as new.
About 30 assorted linen double bed sheets, all v.g.c. £25 each various widths and lengths.
Fine lawn baby pillow cases with broderie anglaise borders, £6 each, linen cot sheets, £5 each, tablecloths £15, heavy linen sleeping bag liners,£20, etc.
Large quantity of double, pure linen sheets, many very large over 10' long, seconds, which have professional repairs, (mostly extremely neat double seamed patches along sides), which could have many uses for dyeing, accessory making, cottage curtains, sofa throws, cushions, crafts, already used for film costume and fashion designs. To clear, £10 AND £15 each. Most of this last lot NOW SOLD, BUT THE REST STILL FOR SALE! I have no room for these and would sell them even cheaper as a job lot! 6 odd ones @£5 each!
Email me at with your phone no. to view in Bradford on Avon, nr. Bath.

Friday, 13 August 2010

SWEET COLOURS are in good taste

Hempolin tea towels

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black/white pillow case
sweetie stripes on a grain sack

It was time to re-stock my reserve of rustic hemp, so went off to my supplier, and I had a lovely time rooting through a huge new stock that had just arrived from the furthest parts of Eastern Europe by lorry. I had no idea that the attractive grain sacks in handwoven hemp came in such a vast variation of colour and design. The stripes of colour woven into them were a sort of bar-code for identifying the actual village that the grain came from, so that the empty sacks could be returned to their owners. Most people have seen the common bright red and strong blue stripes, sometimes combined with large cross-stitched initials, known as Hungarian sacks. I have used them for years to cover French easy chairs. Now I was seeing (and buying) a wide variety of coloured stripes and very distinctive weaves, some in very close herringbone patterns, others looser and coarser, no doubt suitable for different crops and seeds that they might contain. Amongst the best were a whole lot in what I can only call toffee, butterscotch and caramel stripes, which with the creamy back ground of basic hemp, were lovely and very subtle in a muted palette. The black and white linen mix was very striking and has the latest contemporary look. I intend to re-cover my own fireside chair with toffee! Will post its portrait when done. You need to choose the closer weaves for chairs in constant use as some are fairly loose-woven and stretch and sag. I am getting very keen on hemp as an eco-friendly material with huge potential and I will keep on encouraging people to use this valuable stuff.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Darn! It's got a hole!

Inevitably, old materials have areas of wear and damage and it is best to do simple neat repairs before washing which will only make matters worse. Holes, if small, can be darned with a strong thread and fine needle, otherwise a neat patch of slightly finer weave makes the best repair. I pin the patch in place, turning the edges under and stitch all round by machine, then turn the work over and snipping four corner cuts into a rectangle shape, turn the damaged edges in and either darn across with a machine or make another neat square in the sheet, machining all round. If there is a split and no fabric missing, I either zig -zag, catching both edges together or machine-darn across the space, using a fine needle in the machine and a normal cotton thread. Some of the old French darns on linen are works of art, they are circular and rather like a cartwheel, the thread is woven round and round in and out of the 'spokes' .