Thursday, 19 December 2013
25 years ago we moved from Essex to a rambling old house near Bath. House prices were very high then, and when I realised that I had 40+ windows to dress, I was glad to remember the piles of interesting old fabrics I had seen lying around the Brocante sheds and barns in France. The dealers were very surprised when I dragged them out of the black bin liners and measured them up. They were then considered to be just rags, chiffons, in French, so I came home several times with large loads and found a skilled seamstress who loved re-creating new hangings for my windows, removing the tattered old linings, keeping the heavy interlining 'bump', and chopping off the worn edges, and attaching new pastel coloured linings of glazed cotton VERY CHEAP STUFF FROM KNICKERBEAN, a very discounted fabric shop in Bath, alas! now gone, WHICH SOON FADED NICELY TO MATCH THE FRONT. I found another clever lady who was able to cover my battered antique French sofas and easy chairs with old velvets and prints, and by sticking to a colour scheme of old rose, was able to make my drawing room warm and inviting. French people used to be very careful and economical and re-used their beautiful old curtains, but I'm afraid the modern generation regard them as old stuff from Granny and very uncool! So occasionally I still come across a big lot of shabby chic and pass it on to people with big windows and a Credit Crunch problem! The picture shows my secondhand Biedemeier settee covered with two pairs of curtains, one lot alpaca and Lyon silk velvet for the main part, the other lot borders of canvas work from a pair of completely 'shot' silk curtains that were in ribbons. It was a happy 'arranged' marriage of special 19c. textiles and my grandchildren say the velvet is as soft as a pussy cat! Sofa cost me £90, curtains £150 and upholstery a bit more - compares quite well with D.F.S. Curtains for 5 big windows cost £500 plus lining £50, plus labour for re-vamp, £200, and this is the second house they have graced for me.