Monday, February 2, 2009

Sewing with a French twist

I've been reading Julia Child's book, My Life in France. So far I've only read a few pages. The war is over. Julia has left Pasadena, she has married Paul and the two of 
them have stepped off the ocean liner and onto French soil. She's wondering anxiously how a 6'2" America woman who only speaks English will be received in France. She will soon fall in love with everything French and bring all she learns back to the States for all of us to enjoy.

The question for sewers like ourselves is: how can we too bring that style home? You will find an answer in a wonderful book called Simple Sewing with a French Twist by Celine Dupuy (sorry about that accent aigue Celine, I haven't mastered the blogger keyboard yet). 

Celine Dupuy's "Rive Gauche" bag in an Amy Butler fabric

This book offers one exquisite idea after another for home accessories - baroque lampshades and sofa cushions, red velvet beanbags, hand-embroidered duvet (comforter) covers, striped laundry bags, open-work lace curtain panels, in short everything you could possibly want to sew for your home. And you can sew something to wear as well: a woolly beret, bohemian flip flops, a dainty chemise. That's right - make your own flip flops from printed velvet.

The Rive Gauche bag in action

The book includes patterns, illustrations and detailed instructions for sewing. I'll be honest: some of the translations could be better. In places I had to reread the instructions five times. But it's not that hard - a beginner or intermediate seamstress could make these accessories.

Now for the hard part: where to find those so-sophisticated fabrics. Mlle Dupuy is cheating a little, for many of her French accessories are made with decorating fabrics from the quirky English Designers Guild in London, a source of mind-blowingly exquisite fabric and all matter of colorful, modern designer home accessories. 

The Designers Guild flagship store in London

You, my fellow Americans, will have to order these fabrics through your interior designer. But on this side of the pond we have our own fab fabrics - you might start with Amy Butler for one.

Mlle Dupuy is a contributor to an equally fabulous French magazine, Marie Claire Idees, available in French only, although you could certainly figure out how to make the wonderful creations depicted using the diagrams alone. You can order this magazine from the French website or from Amazon. 

I'll share some samples made from the pages of MC Idees in a future post.

Bonne chance avec vos creations !

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