Sunday, April 28, 2019

I Decorated my City's Quilt Shop, with City Quilts

I decorated my local quilt shop! We have a new/old quilt store in Pasadena, CA, thank heavens, after a seemingly infinite interval when there was none.

Quilt'n'Things Fiber Arts, which used to be in Glendale, was sold and moved to Pasadena, on upper Lincoln Ave. The fabric and yarn collection is primo. Lana Norton, the new owner, has a fabulous eye, although I'm biased because she asked me to teach a class there. Also, because two of my skyline quilts are hanging there (they won't be there much longer, since the class is over).
Hi, Lana! The quilt above her head is my Los Angeles quilt, which she challenged me to create: 
Plus I had a hand in the following: Four pillows that I did NOT instigate, imagine, or design, but I did sew up for display. 
They're made from ultra-smooth, ultra-wide, ultra-luscious Kaffe Fassett fabrics...
If you're in Pasadena, do not miss this shop! If your mother or father is a stitcher, this is the place for Mother's Day or Father's Day gifts. They also sell Eversewn Sewing machines, which are getting rave reviews from people I trust for quality at a reasonable price. 

And if you're nowhere near Southern California, you can sample the store's merchandise at their Etsy site, here. 

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Fabric Shopping (and Food Eating) in Paris: Happy Accidents

We were in Paris for five days in early April, where my husband had to work and I could be a tourist. We came back two days before the Notre Dame fire, which I reflected on here. I also visited the St. Ouen flea market, chronicled here

I made no plans to visit fabric stores - with so little time, I figured I'd have to focus on major tourist sites. Plus, I already have waaaay too much fabric at home. 

But that's not how it worked out. 

The first place I accidentally found fabric was in the department store Le BHV/Marais. The funky Marais district of Paris is famous for its Jewish history, dating back to the 13th century. It's also packed with boutiques, galleries, restaurants, bars, and, especially, falafel stands. You must stand in a very long, slow line, but it's worth it, a luscious pack with gobs of mix-ins (I don't even know what all this stuff was, but it was delicious.)
We wandered into BHV looking for something else entirely (food souvenirs, to tell the truth), but instead, on an upper floor, we came across a huge area devoted to crafts and sewing! There were two shelves of bolts:
Some had "Frou Frou" printed on them, which meant nothing to me at the time (but soon would). Many resembled Liberty of London prints, but weren't.

There was a table full of what I later confirmed to be fat-quarters. (Fat-quarters of an American yard, even though France uses the metric system and meters are 39".)
I needed an easy-to-pack souvenir, right? So I bought these.  

Nearby the fabric shelves, there was plentiful stationary, plus this rack of decorative paper. 
(Paris in general has lots of paper stores - this is clearly a country that appreciates fiber more than we do, except in bread.)

There were also shelves of yarn, especially from the French company Phildar, including these made from recycled tee shirt fabric....
...and more conventional yarns, non-fuzzy....
...and fuzzy.

We saw craft supplies of every description, for kids and adults. I shoulda bought one of these sweet paper mache stegosauruses, to paint or decoupage...

So much fun! I thought that was it - that one visit to a retail fabric establishment would be all I'd experience.

But no! A few days later, completely by accident, on the way to  Montmartre's Sacre Couer church, we found ourselves on Marche St. Pierre, the closest thing to a fabric district that Paris has, according to this excellent and informative article that I wish I had  studied before my trip!  

It was the afternoon before our departure, so I had limited time there. I sped through, and here's what I saw:
In a wonderfully named shop, "La Folie Des Tissus" ("The madness of fabric!?") from the precut ("coupons") table, I bought a three meter piece of this -12 Euros!
The shop specializes in garment fabric - their website is here

I was looking for fabrics that I wouldn't find in most US stores. Many stores had a kind of gauzy fabric with simple prints, which I liked enough to photograph, but not enough to buy. Like these bicyclettes:
And boxers:

...with bugs and bunnies on bottom. Similarly, I found the following simple but unusual prints, on a heavier cotton backing:

There were also plenty of prints with more colors, but not nearly as good quality as you'll find in a US quilting shop:
The lower-quality fabric was also inexpensive....
Several stores sold gorgeous, great quality, African wax fabrics, at very reasonable prices:

Then there was the following print - not high-quality, but highly entertaining - of macarons alternating with bears bathing in turquoise tea cups!?!
At the end of the block, I was surprised to find the Frou Frou shop! Now I understood where the fabric and kits at Le BHV/La Marais had come from! It had lots more than the department store, including these wool packets for embroidery (I assume)...
...a MUCH larger table of fat quarters than BHV...
...More of this nice gold-imprinted feather fabric of which I'd bought a piece of at BHV...
...a vast wall of buttons...
...another one of decals....
...And delightful kits for bags and backpacks.
I bought a couple more fat quarters. (OK, more than a couple.)
The first fabric on the left above is faux cutting board fabric! 
The last store in the street is Tissues Reine, Queen Fabrics. They had three tables of genuine Liberty of London fabrics - traditional prints as well as newer motifs. They were priced around 26 Euros a meter, which is around the same price you'll find them online in the US, around $30 a yard. (Plus shipping).
More Liberties:
The dupioni price looked great - 4.90 Euros! 
There were some very nice high quality cotton prints:
Extra-wide batiks: 
Many of the tables held mannequins - each about 3 feet tall - taller than a Barbie, but not nearly as tall as shop mannequins in the US, which gave them a hobbit-like air. 
This was the strangest fabric I found, severed hands + monkey vampires....
Moving from the ridiculous to the sublime, I also found this metallic fabric:
The selvage said it was a Kaufman fabric, from the Klimt collection, so I figured I could buy it in the US for less. As it turned out, it took me a LOT of Internet searching to find one piece, which I ultimately did buy - for about the same as I would have paid in France! (Lesson: Support shops, buy it when you see it.)

Even the floor in this shop was fabulous (Always examine French floors).
After burning thousands of calories fabric shopping (and walking around the spectacular Sacre Coeur basilica), based on our non-scientific study of one dining establishment, I suggest you eat dinner here: 
Yes, it's called Il Ristorante (reviews here), and the cuisine is Italian. The prices were reasonable, but it has an elegant feel. The charming owner wore jeans and an embellished army jacket, so I didn't worry about the fact that we weren't dressed up. The wine she recommended was delicious, and so was the food. Here's the perfectly grilled vegetable appetizer, with ultra thin-sliced carrots, zucchini and eggplant.
 I ordered the gorgonzola gnocchi, which was insanely delicious....
 DH went for the tasty clam linguini,
And this was desert. Trigger alert: It may have contained chocolate. 
The final piece of fabric I brought home from France was a dishtowel with a subway map - widely available at any souvenir shop!
Along with fabric stores and paper stores, the other thing that's much easier to find in Paris than American cities is bookstores. We passed loads of them. Some were ubiquitous Gibert Jeunes, easy to find by their yellow awnings. One that we visited had several shelves of sewing, knitting, and crochet books, plus kits:

So when you go to Paris, be sure to check out the craft section of the bookstores! For a much more comprehensive article about fabric shopping in Paris - especially if you're planning a visit - I again highly recommend this article.