Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Fabric Book (A going away gift)

Escape velocity from France has been obtained. It has been a lot of work, but next move: Germany! Seven months starting in January. Return to France? Yes. Scheduling is in the works for my return in a couple years. 

Not long after I moved to France, due to new French friends, I joined a Patchwork club in a town near by. As the token English speaker I think I contributed a lot to the flavor of the club. It does not go without saying they contributed an amazing amount to my skills and how I look at quilting and sewing in general. I am forever grateful to know such a great group of ladies.

A total surprise at one of the last meetings was a presentation that was made to me by the members of the club to honor my time I was with them as a member. Truly I am touched. What a fun gift to receive.

Let me take you on a tour of my fabric book...

The club is called Bout Tissus which is a way of saying "beautiful fabric". In the small town where the club meets, at the end of the main street is a chateau of sorts. It is actually partly modern and has an interesting eccentric recent history. With a tower like that, it is a main focal point of the town. It can be seen from the toll road as one travels from Paris to Saarbr├╝cken Germany. 
One of the members of the club thread painted the tower scene for the cover of my book. Wonderful isn't it?
You find yourself going back and forth comparing the two images.

Before opening the book, look at the really cool way it was bound. OK, now, lets page through the book. 

The first block used scraps from one the projects the club did. Unique and beautiful. I enjoyed learning that technique! I am guilted into it, now I need to do something with my block of altered fabric I made. Mine looks very similar in colors to the one here, just not cut into circles,triangles and half moons yet.

Page 2, What is not to like. We made a chicken apron at one of the club meetings. you can see mine here. I love crazy patch. The block on the left is beautiful with all of its muted colors. The twisted log cabin block has movement that is wonderful.

Page 3. At club last year everyone made a quilt which was a sewn block followed by an applique with embroidery block. Well almost everyone. I did not. I regretted it later and bought the books the designs are in so I could make it later. The design on the left looks like it right out of the pages of that quilt design. The block on the right is the first example of many where club members knew of my love for vintage lace. What a fun use of this embroidered English netting piece to make the sail of a boat.

Page 4. Butterflies, I am a sucker for butterflies. Add a lace butterfly to a flower applique, gorgeous! On the right, while in France my cats lived with my parents. Sadly both cats died this past year. One from cancer and one just plain old age. I will always think of Macy and Ginger when I see this block.

Page 5: On the right is a wonderfully embellished block. Pictures do not do it justice. The embroidery make it look rich and very touchable. On the left, now here is a fun one. The fabric transfer is of a postcard from 1915 of Jacobsplatz (Place St Jacques) in Metz France.
Here is the colorized version of the postcard:
In 1915 the "Virgin Mary on a Stick" did not exist. Near where it stands now, in the picture, is what appears to be a May pole. Superimposed onto the picture in the book, if you look closely is the silhouette of the Virgin Mary. Hard to see? Ok, here is a close up:
Also highlighted is where I lived on the 4th (American),3rd (French) floor. You can tell the Virgin Mary was a prominent fixture outside of my window every day. It is interesting to see how little the square has changed, although it changed quite a bit between what you see now and what was then. The square was a flower market and an ugly parking lot in between. Now once again it is a square for the Christmas market in late November and most of December and a vibrant restaurant and cafe district the rest of the year. Loud to live there? Yes at times. but the people watching was the best part of living there.

Page 6: Owls with button eyes. Love it! Notice the lace bits and the stamped fabric background. Just plain fun!  On the right, again vintage lace this time used as a frame for a beautifully hand embroidered flower.

Page 7: The "Jardin de Grand Mere" or known in English "Grandmother's Flower Garden" block is a wonderful example of English paper piecing. The colors are perfect as it the use of a flowered button in the center. The use of it as an applique was part of the quilt the club made last year. On the right is a crazy patch block with kitty meows on it. More memories of my cats and one of the techniques we used at our meetings several years ago.

Page 8: Butterflies, vintage edging on a Jardin de Grand Mere flower. I think these ladies know me well. On the right the iconic and truly American Sunbonnet Sue done in red, white and blue, love it! 

Page 9: Vintage lace show up yet again on both blocks. If you think France is awash with vintage lace, you would be correct. One of my favorite past times was to search out vintage lace for future projects.  Easy to find once you figure out where to look. You just can't be picky about what you find and you need to buy it when you find it. The imaginative uses of the old lace just astounds me. Well done!

Page 10: Appliqued lucky clover and embroidery with a button accent in the center,  on the left and more vintage lace on the right. I am sorry to say,  why did I not think of doing this more? Check out the beading on the flower piece of lace. This addition adds so much interest to the block.
Here is a close up of the beading work.

On the left is a Beautiful crazy patch block with hand embroidered seam lines, made even better with the addition of a butterfly/flower in the center and the vintage lace medallions. On the right is a sampler of Broderie Swiss (in French) or chicken tracks (horrible name in English). 
We learned Broderie Swiss at the club several years back. I used one of my samplers on my jacket and I finished a small Christmas ornament. I thought it would be fun to make for the annual Christmas ornament exchange I am in each year, but it turned out to be FAR too much work to make just the one. I can't image making 4 more of them. The pencil is there so you can gauge the size of the ornament. It is two sided so that it was twice the work.

On the left, another technique we learned at the club. Great mosaics can be fashioned using small pieces of fabric. We were encouraged to make pictures of animals of trees using this technique. On the right is the log cabin block beautifully done in shades of brown and off white.
A wonky log cabin type block with machine specialty stitching. Most interesting is the fabric which ties in all sorts of newspaper headlines from Johnson being sworn in after the assassination of John Kennedy to the president Eisenhower's signature making  either Alaska (July 7 1958) or Hawaii ( March 18 1959) a state. Farther back in history, the Titanic hitting an iceberg and the Virginian goes to her aid. Funny how you focus in on what the fabric says when it is in your mother tongue. On the right is again one of the techniques we did this past year of the Jardin de Grand Mere flower appliqued onto a block with embroidery and other appliques used to complete the block. I love this technique!

Now the reason I did not make several of the projects at the club was because I was sewing other projects that I wanted to finish. The block on the left captures so  what I was up to while I was in France. Nothing said we had to do every project, so many I stepped back and watched others create amazing things. On the right is an art form I am going to try - Hardanger. Several of the ladies in the club made the most amazing things. Here in this block is a small example of the work I so admired:

On the right, crazy patch, hand embroidery and butterflies. I love the use of rick rack and embroidery. These ladies know me well! The block is beautiful. On the left is embroidery mixed with vintage lace.  And not just any vintage lace, The vintage lace is a reinforced battenburg lace. 
There is a wire down the center of the lace tape so that the lace tape can be molded to any shape. 
Vintage wise when I find this it lace tape, it was made into a collar or a waistband. Once I found it on a old window curtain. The embroidery is beautiful. The butterfly, (You are not surprised to find one here are you?) appears to be a doily that was folded in half and bound with the same yarn used to make it. I found myself unfolding it to figure out if that is what it was. It is my best guess.

On the left, a Sewing machine! Applique and embroidery. Notice the vintage lace along the 4 corners. I love the use of vintage and embroidery! The Machine just brings in that vintage feel. On the right is a really fun block using machine specialty stitches and couched metallic yarn. Across the top is eyelet edging and the use of blue both the dark stitches and the light fabrics makes your eye look over the entire block.

On the left, a bobbin lace heart in red, just beautiful and well made. the background is perfect to show it off. Love it! On the right is another well made bobbin lace heart with an oval vintage picture embroidery stitched to the background linen. The embroidered flower and ribbon work embroidery give this block a beautiful vintage look. I could stare at it all day.

Finally the last page, All of the members of the club in order who produced a block for my going away book. Thank you all of you!

As the book is closed, there are many ways to say goodbye, or rather until we meet again to both the patchwork club and to France. Planning says I will be back, but until then:


  1. Jean, what a beautiful memory book for you. I loved looking at the beautiful work the ladies did for you. Thanks for sharing with us.

    Betty in Alabama

  2. Wow, what an amazing gift!!! and what a great idea to make a fabric book. It will be an heirloom


  3. I am amazed at how each page has a story to go with it. I want to make one!