We've just announced our upcoming Art of Craft event for January 2016! Held every year at French General, this year we decided to move our creative event an hour north of Los Angeles to Santa Paula, California! We are so excited to share this historic town with you - our workshops will take place within a four block area from the historic host hotel, The Glen Tavern Inn. Spend the day learning to make a hand-stitched heirloom quilt, cooking with our favorite visiting French Chef, Charlotte, block printing on linen and exploring new jewelry techniques! Our days will be creative and communal - learning from each other as well as from our teachers. All of the materials will be supplied, all you have to do is show up and be ready to dig in and learn something new!
We are thrilled to announce our new project with Cosmo Threads! We've designed four collections of floss palettes - based on the different seasons. Included with each floss package is a free PDF embroidery sampler that you can copy off, transfer to fabric and stitch. Or, you can make it easy on yourself and simply order the sampler already printed from our Embroidery Collection.
Here's a sneak peek at our floss collections, that can be ordered from French General now!
Join me for a fun-filled day at the South Street Seaport Museum on Sunday, September 13th for a full day of Shibori and Indigo Dyeing! We will take time to explore different types of Japanese resist techniques including nui, kumo, itagime and batik - as well as demonstrate simple sashiko stitching. A fiber kit is provided for you, but you are free to bring your own small bag of natural textiles to play with. Sign up here - wear your blues - and prepare for magic!
I feel as if I have told the story of how we began French General over and over again...the barn, the shop in New York, the move to California, the books, the fabrics...it's all been this very slow organic growth - the epitome of a home grown business. Along the way I have worked with some amazing, talented people, including most of my family and friends. It's been a long, creative trip - one that began with an empty barn and the birth of Sofia (no she wasn't born in the barn!) and my desire to stay at home and raise her. If you haven't heard our story, or, if you just want to hear it all over again, head on over to Abby Glassenberg's podcast, While She Naps, pour yourself a cup of tea (or a glass of wine!) and listen to Molly and me wax poetic about what we do and why we do what we do! And I promise..one of these days I will have an updated headshot!
Join me for a weekend in Vermont this September 17th- 20th at Meleen and Charlotte's Vermont Getaway! We will be exploring antique French textiles - looking at old scraps - the small repairs, the natural fibers, the center seams and the printing and weaving methods. We will be stitching with 18th and 19th century French textiles, learning how to hand quilt, and making beautiful blocks for a wall hanging or quilt. For more information on the weekend or to sign up, please visit Charlotte Lyon's blog, or write to Meleen and Charlotte at email@example.com
Fifteen years ago, JZ created a website for French General - it was different, inspirational and fun and served it's purpose - we were able to get the word out about French General, as well as sell our craft kits, books and fabrics to people all over the world!
But fifteen years is a long time and all good things have to change....so finally, after many months of discussion, debate and deliberation...we are ready to unveil our new web site. It may not be as layered as our last site - but I think you will find it very user friendly! There is a search button (oh my!) and a place to sign up for our monthly newsletters (that's right!) as well as an inventory count - so we will know when something has sold out (finally!). We hope you agree that it is a simpler way to see what is happening in the French General world and we invite you to visit often as we will always be adding new and interesting ideas to the site!
In celebration of all of this big news...we thought we would do a giveaway...something we have not done in a very long time! So please leave a comment below and tell us what you think of the new site, you can visit French General here. We will choose one random comment and send out a goody bag filled with some of our upcoming Le Marais fabric, our new jewelry book, A Year of Jewelry, and a couple of our embroidery samplers!
It's always strange coming home from France. Every summer, we spend six weeks running around the countryside, visiting friends, and just generally, pretending we are French. This summer was no different. We spent three weeks at the chateau scouring the flea markets, crafting in the studio, cooking with Chef Charlotte and, again, pretending we were French! Then I drove down to San Sebastian and met up with family and relaxed in a beautiful, coastal village. Finally, JZ, Sofia and I flew up to Paris and spent a long weekend seeing the museums, eating in the cafes and biking around the city...a perfect way to end a long holiday.
And for some reason...after seeing everything, doing everything, eating and drinking everything...you would think it would be a relief to come home...but it's always strange to come home. I am at home in France as I am in Los Angeles. And, I am as happy in France as I am in California - it just takes some time to adjust and acclimate to both cultures. Here are a few snapshots of our trip abroad - the good, the bad and the ugly - and hopefully, you will feel like I do...that living in both countries is the best of both worlds!
We are getting ready to leave for France for the seventh year of our Chateau Getaway! Each summer, as June approaches, I start to think about the flea markets, vide greniers and brocantes we will visit in France...I am always excited when the flea market schedule comes out and we get to plan our schedule for the month of June. This summer, we are lucky to have a handful of some of the best markets on, including: Beaumont (pictured above), Montauban, Septfonds, Bruniquel, Caussade, Molieres and Realville!
But what to look for...how to choose what is something really special and what should be left behind for someone else to carry home? Here are some of my favorite treasures to look for in France while at the flea markets...
Tapestry, tapestries and more tapestries! The older the better...and anything with a tag or marking on it...even better! This centuries old tradition in France was once the bread and butter for many artisans. Now, practically a dying trade, we are lucky enough to visit one of the great tapestry weavers in Montpezat, who, for the past 60 years, has been sitting at her loom weaving day in and day out - and you have never seen a more perfect posture!
Linens! I will walk a mile for a box full of old linens - and again, the older the better! Old cotton nightshirts, linen convent gowns, lace collars, indigo aprons - you name it and I want it! I am not such a stickler for the perfectly cleaned and pressed linens - I would much rather buy the discarded pieces and take them home and watch their beauty unfold after soaking, washing and ironing them. My mom, Kick, is the master laundress, so most of our old linens end up on her lawn for a good brightening from the sun and the chlorophyll in the grass!
Hardware - particularly old brass curtain rings! Any size, any color, any design, I like to use these pieces in my home to hang old linen sheets up as curtains. These small brass rings can easily be sewn on to make small cafe curtains - or can be tied on with small pieces of ribbon sewn onto the linen panel.
This was my purchase from an afternoon at the brocante in Cahors...a basket woven canteen, a set of old bone handles knives, a handful of old silver thimbles, a half a dozen porcelain medicinal pots, an early 20th century curtain panel and a piece of filet...hand tied linen fabric used for lace curtains. Everything spoke to me - the color, the history and the age...sometimes a photograph is worth a thousand ideas....
Old string...linen, twine, cotton, hemp. I have no idea why...but I love old string collections - especially those that come with a few handmade tools.
Early samplers. These are getting harder to find and they can be quite pricey - but every once in a while you will come upon a box of linens with an old sampler hidden at the bottom of the basket. These small pieces of history show the handiwork of young French school girls. The missing W always gives away the samplers age.
Millinery treasures...all found at the old hat factory we have been visiting for years. Although the owner, Guy, passed away two summers ago, we still pop by to say hello to his wife and to dig through one of the old hat making rooms - each one filled with the trims, flowers and ribbons that decorated the hats nearly a century ago!
Hemp and linen tea towels - hands down - the first thing I pick up at the flea market in the morning. One can never have too many linen tea towels stacked up in every room of their home...or in the closets or armoires. I like the old madder striped towels - they are the essence of France for me and no good flea market trip is complete without finding at least one old tea towel!
Old glass buttons...by the bucketful! I pick up as many old buttons as I can to make button bracelets with. These simple bracelets, filled with a mixture of decorative, military and baby buttons are one of my favorite things to make when I return home from France.
So, as you can see...my treasures, the small bits and pieces I look for, are really quite simple. Nothing takes up too much room in my suitcase, yet everything is filled with the history of France. What do you look for at the flea markets? Is there anything you would like me to look for? Leave me a message and I will keep my eye out for you...meanwhile I will try to blog my way through France so you can see all of our adventures!