Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Laurent!

My Beau gets along really well with his boss and unfortunately we will be out of town and missing his birthday bash. So when I was asked to make an extra-special-hand-made birthday gift for having to decline our invitation to joint the festivities, of course I joyfully accepted! Give me a reason to cross stitch and I will!

Laurent is the founder and owner of a Paris based agency called Labrador, which has something to do with transparency of regulated information. After years of hearing about it from my Beau, I'm afraid that I wouldn't be able tell you anything more than that. I've been accused a few times (in the not so distant past) of shutting off my ears when what I'm hearing has nothing to do with beauty, vintage or people being nice to each other. Who, Moi?

This playful Labrador pup is embroidered in the red of the company logo and I've added a little red ribbon to tie it all together... who wouldn't want this their office door? We are wishing you a very very happy birthday Laurent, and hope that your party was a blast!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


I've just come home from a Christmas Party where I had the gift of spending time with bunches of good friends, old friends, new friends, FRIENDS! I am so grateful to all of you for the special place you have in my life. Over the course of the evening (and the last few months actually) I've noticed that something that these very different friends all have in common is that they ask the same 2 questions:
1) When are you getting married?
2) Are you making your dress?

So here are my replies these Frequently Asked Questions:

1) Yes we've had a very long engagement. The friends I see punctually think that I've gotten married each time that we run into each other! Not yet. The wedding will be next summer 2010. The truth is that we are having so much fun being engaged that we decided to drag it out for as long as possible! We're in our in our 15th month of engagement and loving every minute of it! We have a anniversary for everything: Our first date, Our first kiss, Our move-in date, The date we met each others parents, the date he popped the questions, the date I got my ring, the date we got a joint bank account, the date my mother threw a "High Tea" engagement party in honor of Iain's Britishness... we are always celebrating! It's great! I'm actually afraid that once we are married, I'll go into celebration withdrawl with that one and only date that matters above all the rest!

2)Yes I'm making my dress, I wouldn't do it any other way! Actually I couldn't do it any other way. I'm such a perfectionist and so in love with vintage treasures and the sentimental value of recuperated materials that I wouldn't be able to buy any dress brand new and to pay someone else make a dress for me would seem like such a shame since that's my life's passion! Also, in the line of work that I'm in (frilly dress designer), I've gotten so used to only wearing my clothes. The thought of wearing someone else's dress on a typical Wednsday seems strange, not to mention for a special occasion... if you get what I mean.

3) And now for the answer to third question of why this post is making it into my arts and crafts blog... Because I'm going to tease you all with photos of the W-Frock making process! Yes I know that you are all very excited, but you'll have to understand that I work a full time job and have a thousand other side projects going all at the same time, so the W-frock hasn't really progressed as much as it could have, and there is that tradition about keeping it a secret of course, but here's a little glimpse none the less! You'll have to imagine what it looks like from the patterns though because that's as good as it's going to get on the world wide web.

Laying the corrected pattern drafts onto clean pattern paper

Final patterns traced and step cutting the fabric!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Shoulder Garden Flashback

Ok all of you old school people - here's one that you will certainly remember - SHOULDER GARDEN! This was the very first sweater that I ever knitted! During my study abroad at Parsons Paris, I took a class called Hand Knitting and Knotting which was basically all kinds of knitting, crochet, macramé, etc... and thus this ...ahem...sweater was born. I have SUCH fond memories of going to th attic of Le Bon Marché to pick out the yarn colors, of sitting in Parisian cafés with my buddies Ashley, Gregory, Grace & Heather and crocheting my brains out. I hand crocheted each one of these flowers and vines with love. I pre-stung a bobbin of thread in the same color with seed beads and crocheted the string along with the yarn. Every so often, I placed a bead in the flower and the result was pretty good.

If any of you out there have photos from back in the day featuring the Shoulder Garden, now is your chance to LET THEM BE KNOWN! And as I have been trying to find a new home for Shoulder Garden for a good several years now, unless I get an offer for adoption before the end of 2009 I will be taking her to that place where most of my past life clothes go to... the vintage shop downstairs.

And now the photos... brace yourself...

(close-up of the "garden")


Monday, December 14, 2009

Gifts of Christmas Past

It's been quiet around the blog these days but don't be fooled - there's been no lack of arts and crafts! Since most of my recent projects are destined to be Christmas presents, and I'd like to keep them secret, I'll post them to the blog once they are in the hands of their new owners.

Which brings me to today's post! My future mother in law (and #1 fan to the blog!) has kindly sent me photos of an apron that I made for her last Christmas. The materials for the apron cost literally a couple of euros, but the crazy characters behind the embroidery are priceless! Living in the southwest of France with Nanette and Douglas are Alfred the dog and Sydney the cat. Alfred is a Labrador, born and raised in France and so he is 100% French: stubborn, undisciplined, a complete hedonist... and takes his commands in French (whether he obeys is a completely different story!). Sidney, on the other hand, immigrated with Nanette & Douglas to France for retirement from the UK and so he is exactly that: Retired! The thing is that Sid suffered an accident in the UK which left him with 3 legs (so I guess technically he is on Disability AND Retirement!). Since Sidney is the first and only cat that Alfred has ever met, he must think that 4 legged cats are mighty strange...

For this apron, I made sure to embroidery Sid in all of his 3 legged glory and Alfred as he is - unruly. The pale tartan bias binding around the edges of the apron is a little wink to Nanette's bonny bonny Scottish origins. Here are some shots: Close, Closer, Closest...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Mr & Mrs Aukingham of Nottingham

My Beau and I had an amazing weekend in the UK at the wedding of our dear friends Sir Phillip and his lady Sara. Now that they've returned from their Moon of Honey and opened all of their presents, I am finally able to post the wedding bunting that we gave to them in celebration of their nuptials. I hope that they can be reminded of the festive and joyful magic of their wedding day for the many happy years to come.

My future mother-in-law (and faithful fan of the blog) is a whiz with the camera and so I asked her to shoot some photos. I made the flags for the bunting from two kinds of fabrics, a cotton shirting stripe and a cotton toile de jouy. I like the combination of masculine and feminine, it seemed like a pertinent mix just perfect for the occasion. I have so much fun making these buntings that the wedding set will be up on my etsy store soon and I'll be accepting personalized orders:

Congratulations to an amazing couple and we wish them a lifetime love and laughter for a happily ever after!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Embroidery Class

Embroidery is addictive. As soon as I threaded that first needle with that glossy DMC cotton thread I was hooked! My French Grandfather used to do needle point, we have piles and piles of his tableaux at the house in America. Inspired by him, I think I did my first needle - pointing when I was a little girl, although I have no recollection of completing a single project! My mother would be able to validate that for certain. I started really embroidering in France. My mother's sister does cross stitch for her home, her children, her grandchildren. At my Aunt's house in the North of France one lazy summer afternoon in my early twenties, I picked up that needle to try my hand at counted cross stitch... and haven't put it down since! Several years later and itching to stitch "outside the box" I submitted an application for a hand embroidery night class here in Paris and to my extreme delight was accepted, so back to school I go! My class is every Wednesday evening for three hours of pure needle craft bliss. I want to share the new stitches that I've learned in my first semester (It's hand embroidery people, so yes it has taken me an entire semester to make this measly little swatch!)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Initialed Dish Towels

Or as my British Beau calls them, Tea Towels. It's Decemeber! I am getting started on this year's Christmas gift early and as I've got lots to think about. This will be my first time going home to the USA for Christmas since moving to france over 5 years ago! Additionally, my fabulously zippy and spunky mother has set up camp with the fabulously mellow & groovy Tom who's got a house full of new step brothers for me to think about AND her friends from France and flying in town to spend the Holidays in their festive abode.

I found these dish towels/tea towels for a real steal at my neighborhood's Drefus Marché St Pierre on Saturday and got busy! So far I've made the ones you see here, destined for the kitchen of my mother's dear friends Marie-Claude & Jean-François, who are brother and sister and not husband & wife, or else they would have gotten one gift between the both of them! But seriously, who wouldn't be happy to get one of these useful things? I seriously I go ga-ga for this ye-olde-world stuff. If I had all the time in the world, 100% of my home linens would be hand embroidered 100% of the time. And if I had even more time than that, they would be seasonally embroidered and rotated out every 4 months. I can't wait to be retired!