Friday, September 9, 2016

Bonjour à Nouveau France!

Yes, I know, it has been a while since I posted last. Two years ago I left France for Berlin Germany. After six months in Berlin it was off to the United States. At that point I quit posting on my blog. Since the United States, there has been a three month move to China, no chance of being able to post on my blog there, and now after a short vacation in the United States, I am back in France. Not forever, just four months. But those four months, I should have time to post again! What is it about Europe that makes me able to be creative.

Two weeks ago, I flew into Paris CDG. It was a perfect time to spent a long weekend exploring Paris. Why not take a little down time to explore the sites with the hope of finding a weekend flea market or a fun second hand store? Of course the fabric district was on my list of stops.

Yes to all three. I found the second hand store, I found a flea market and I had time to buy fabric at one of the stores in the fabric district. Also, there was time to stop at wine bars and meet up with friends for dinner. It was a good weekend.

So what did I find?

I found a second hand store that carried sheets and towels. Normally into that mix is the occasional old item that I might be searching for. I got lucky. In the very back of the store were old goodies were heaping over the edge of a small basket. The shop had put a sticker on everything with the date it arrived in the store and the price. Unlike a flea market everything was washed but not ironed. This sticker shows that the item arrived on the 17th of August 2016 and that it cost 4.50 euros. The item with the sticker is a pillow case with beautiful hand fagoting around the edges. I love fagoting and love it even more when it is done on linen. Only thing missing were the buttons.
After Berlin, I have many vintage linen covered buttons I can sew on. I am not sure there ever were buttons on it as there were no marks. I am not even sure the pillowcase was ever used based on it’s condition. 
Mine now and with the buttons sewn on it, it is already in use on the bed.
At the same store, I also found a pair of curtains also dated on the 17th of August. 

Maybe from the same donor? Here is a picture of one of the two. 

The knotting on one of them has holes but the condition otherwise looked pretty good.

I found a couple of doilies as well.

At the flea market I found lots of lace bits. I had to come back to the stall as there were 5 Chinese tourists buying all sorts of items. One of them spoke French and was trying to bargain like they do in China. I now know what that is like as I was there for 9 weeks working this summer. The shop keeper would have none of it. No matter what the Chinese woman said in trying to bring the price down, she held firm. I enjoyed watching the two cultures, I now have a better understanding of, clash over how one buys things at a flea market. In the end the final tally was 360 euros (around $400 US) they bought a lot of things for that money. Her prices were good. They were interested in completed garments. As they, the Chinese tried to negotiate I was able to get into a corner of the stall to watch the action and conveniently, while I was there, to sift through two boxes of lace bits. I found some beautiful things in those boxes. 

Once the Chinese had left with 2 large bags of garments, the shop keeper turned her attention to me. She tallied up what I had bought. “It is refreshing that you did not try to negotiate prices with me” she said clearly in French. I told her that I had just moved to France from China and that the negotiating was the way most everything was done. She told me the Chinese negotiate too hard which is why she does not negotiate prices with them anymore. “My price is what it is.” She told me. She then counted 14 items as 10, took 12 euros off of my total and threw in a small bag of lace bits.

So what did I get? I got a selection of lace medallions the top from an undergarment and meters of beautiful lace. All of it needed washing as, as usual, it smelled like mold.

The last stop was the fabric district. I found some linen. I bought the rest that was on the bolt. I only needed about 1 meter of two of them so give or take a couple of centimeters, who cares? The man cutting the fabric gave me a deal on both of them. 

At Coupon de Saint Pierre I bought 2 three meter pieces of a very light weight silk. I have a class I want to do on sewing light weight fabrics. I bought the class, watched it but, in my stash I did not have the correct type of fabric. Now I do.

The sewing machine is off and running. it is about time!


  1. I enjoy reading your blog Jean and hearing about the lace you find and the great linens.

  2. What lovely treasures! And I must ask what you use to wash fabrics with, to remove that mold smell. Just yesterday I opened an old storage box and found vintage table linens and scraps of lace trimming that I would love to use again, but the mold smell is terribly strong. I don't know if airing outdoors will help, but first they must be washed anyway. Do you have a recommendation? Thanks, and welcome back to the blog-world :)