Saturday, 17 January 2015


  Because I have always worked from home and never had proper workshops or outbuildings for doing the work on my textiles, I have organised work stations in my houses where I can enjoy interesting spaces and views.  They are also places where I can get away from the phone, the computer and other distractions!  First and foremost is the laundry which sees most of my purchases from France.  Here, by incredibly good fortune, the previous owner of the house was a lady who had lived out in Hong Kong and had large American machines put in a small bespoke laundry, with a good oil-fired boiler which kept it very warm and dry, so I inherited a large industrial Whirlpool washer and a huge General Electric spin dryer, both of which could cope with the heavy linen and hemp sheets which I bought in hundreds in rural France.  I added a hanging rack (Sheila Maid) and put another much larger one in the garage next door, so I could dry 8 sheets at a time, and not disgrace the neighbourhood with a Chinese laundry look out in the garden.
   Next came the ironing and I invested in a Blanca Press ( not a roller) which is large, heavy and square and does a fantastic job of ironing sheets folded in four layers and threaded through the machine while I sit comfortably, listening to Classic FM,  and pull the levers.  This is in our beautiful atrium which overlooks the centre of the town and ancient buildings nearby and the sun comes straight in.  There is this Venetian window facing South and the banisters of our big Bath stone staircase are just behind me and I can hang the sheets to air on the balustrade!  Although the press was very expensive  (I know it is cheaper now) I was told that it was used by the Savoy Hotel Restaurant to iron their napkins and that was good enough for me and it still works perfectly after 15 years' constant use.  I do not use starch but this heavy press gives a wonderful glossy finish on damask linen
Blanca Press Iron with second-hand curtain background - shell and seaweed collection in the corner of the atrium

                                              two single Regency chairs with ticking squab cushions

      The next 'work station' is in the dressing room of our bedroom which  is next door.  The previous owner had had an enormous bank of cupboards put up from floor to ceiling and kept all her fabulous Chinese silk evening dresses, loaded with sequins and embroideries there,  and these spaces are incredibly useful for me to store stuff, repairs, cushions, etc., handy for my German sewing machine ( bought at Lidl for less than £30,  5 years ago!) in the window opposite that has two chests of small drawers on either side holding all the reels, tapes, buttons, etc. that I need for repairing, and creating.  There I can look out on our street which is full of pretty old houses, hanging baskets, lovely old lamp posts and the elderly residents tapping by to go to the shops which are two minutes away, so convenient.  On each table I have the necessary tools lined up, soft water spray for the ironing, scissors and de-fuzzing comb;  in my sewing room, clothes brush and pin cushion and needlework scissors by the Lervia machine. and I have a large and light white plastic garden table where I can cut out and spread sheets for repairs and alterations.   I pride myself a bit on the fact that I can make, repair, decorate and alter almost anything in my stock by recycling surplus and using old things in new ways - so I never need go shopping except for sewing threads.  I know the French housewives of old would approve as they re-made everything, mostly stitching everything by hand and stuff was used until it fell apart in rags.  

My handy little Lervia sewing machine  which has often gone on holiday with me to Tenerife for a sunshine break, well, I take my husband along too!  The curtains are VERY FRENCH, late 19th C., with romantic designs of garden tools and flowers, re-lined with 19c.crimson cotton linings.    
 Work stations continued

                                                   HANGING AROUND THE WALLS
  I was lucky to buy a big set of brass tapestry hanging rails, quite slim and narrow, in France and I had these placed high up in several places in my house so that buyers of my old vintage chateau curtains could see how they would look in their own houses, and this was very useful for them and also decorated big blank walls for me, where I had no pictures to hang and I  could regularly change the colour scheme and scenery.  The curtains have now all gone so maybe I need to buy a Welsh quilt from Jen Jones of  Lampeter, a very old friend, to hang in their place?  For me, this is all great fun, playing with colours and 'looks' and definitely not work.  My adult play station!
One room on this floor has been my sales-room for all the best linens and rarer costumes, but is now restored to be my French spare room for visitors, mostly  by courtesy of EBAY.   See POSTs Spare a Thought and also An Ebay Project

Toile de Jouy bed hanging, French tapestry poles with finials


No comments:

Post a Comment