More Fabric Shopping

This past Saturday I went fabric shopping(again) with one of the other stagiaires here. I got some of the things on my list!

From left to right: white silk satin, charcoal silk taffeta, blue silk satin, white cotton.

The white satin and charcoal taffeta are for the that 1790’s dress I posted about. It was very satisfying finding these two because they are exactly what I was looking for, no compromises! I picked the white stain out of a number white satins that had slight hints of blue and pink. This one is ever so slightly off white and contrasts nicely with the charcoal without being blinding. The charcoal is great too as it is a medium weight taffeta and lighter than the other options. It should gather nicely. Now I need to find some spangle for this!

The blue satin is for some 1940’s underthings. I was hoping to find a nice dusky rose colour but nothing looked right and I was a little afraid of getting a colour that clashed with my skin tone. Pink is not a colour I’ve played with much. In hindsight cream might have been a bit more accurate but oh well too late! This project could also use some lace. I saw some in one of the stores we were in, I might go back and get a few metres.

The white cotton might seem boring but I picked it up because it was a very nice  high thread count, but light cotton. It’s perfect for underthings! I’ll probably use some of this for my Edwardian underthings, whenever I get around to them!

Now I need to go investigate mailing options to get all this home…


Bastille Day

This past Thursday was Bastille Day and I had a pretty awesome day! I really didn’t do anything all that exciting but a day spent shopping is always enjoyable! Especially if that shopping involves fabric!!

I had totally forgotten that today was a holiday until my supervisor reminded me yesterday. Bonus day to sleep in! I slept quite late and I was going to go check out the military parade but I was feeling lazy and it looked kinda rainy out so instead I made myself a big breakfast. I puttered around doing dishes and dealing with laundry and then I made a very detailed list of things to scour the fabric stores and merceries for this afternoon. I had gotten a friend of mine to call one of the big fabric stores, as I am essentially unable to communicate in French on the phone, to see if they were open on the holiday and I assumed that since one store was open all would be. Yeah not so much. Yet I still managed to spend a good couple of hours just browsing through the few stores that were open.

Eventually I found my way down a side street to one store in particular that really didn’t seem all that much different from the others, that is until I realized they were selling real silk! Once inside I found a roll of this fabulous red silk. It has an ocassional very minor slub and is medium weight. Not as light as china silk but not a heavy or crisp as some taffetas. It is, however, the most absolutely perfect shade and weight to recreate a quilted 1780’s ensemble I got the chance to examine during my stage here. So yes I bought it all! And I bargained the guy down 20 euros!

After that spot of successful fabric hunting I headed back to the 3rd to find a cafe. I ended up back at this one that my aunt and I had patronized previously. And then I started making a list. First of the way cool fabrics I had seen and not bought, and then of the projects that I should look to get fabric for while I’m here. You see I could probably order fabric from the internet for many of these projects back home but the ability to browse through many stores allows for a certain precision of choice that I just can’t achieve back home. Here there is the possibility of getting the most perfect fabric ever while back home I can probably get one that’s good enough. So I made a list of all the major things floating around in my mind right now that I would like to get fabric for. Guess what – they’re mostly 18th century!

First up is the peach Française that the Comtesse de Provance wears in the dressing scene of Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette.

This particular dress has always stuck out for me. I like the simplicity of the colours and the deliberate amount of fussiness in the trim and accessories (her hair is fun too!). Although this costume is clearly made of a slubbed fabric like dupioni, I’ll be looking for a smooth taffeta in that lovely shade of pink.

The second one that comes to mind is this stripes ensemble from the Kyoto Costume Institute.

The challenge with this one is finding a fabric not just with the right colours but also the right balance of colours. Puresilks has several taffetas with these colours but none are quite right in the proportions. I’d also like to pair the dress with that same shade of green accessories.

In a bit of a departure from the previous two, I’d like to copy this mourning ensemble from the 1790’s (Natalie‘s excellent detailed blogging of 1790’s styles has definitely influenced me!).

The key to this particular fabric hunt is finding the perfect shade of charcoal grey. Of course I’d like to attempt that embroidery and spangles too!

I participated in a trip to the Bath Costume Museum with Your Wardrobe Unlock’d and got some delicious up close pictures of objects in the collection but my favourite by far was a dress on display.

Again finding an appropriate fabric has its challenges. The brocade contains many colours including blue, yellow, gold, green, and peach. I don’t expect to find the exact fabric of course but I do how to find one with the same scale of pattern and approximately the same proportion of colours.

Another dress that has been only list for a very long time is the Mme Seriziat portrait gown.

For this gown I’m looking for a very fine, high thread count voile. Ordinary voile would probably do but I’d really like to find some high quality stuff. I love that you can really see the difference in drape between the fabric of her gown and her fichu!

And finally I’m looking to get a few meters of silk satin for some 1940’s style slips and underthings.

*whew* that was a long list. Hopefully I’ll find everything I want. Wish me luck!

Fabric Shopping in Paris


There are a concentration of fabric shops at the foot of Sacré Coeur in Monmatre. I went there today.

Oh My….

Coming from a town with only two fabric shops, neither of which have a great selection, this was an experience! There are several 4 and 5 floor fabric shops (Tissues Reine, Marché St Pierre most notably) as well as smaller shops scattered around on the side streets. I actually ended up buying all my fabric at one place, Les Coupons de Saint-Pierre. Coupons is French for remnant and this shop stocked exclusively 3 metre pre-cut pieces of fabric. And the selection! For remnant store there was an amazing selection! It was all organized by fabric type but within that there was no organization. Blends kind of got tucked haphazardly around. I got:

-Printed silk, 30€ (14$ CAD/metre)
-Cotton/silk blend, 15€ (7$/metre)
-Cotton organdy, 10€ (4.5$/metre)
-Black and White checked cotton voile, 10€ (4.5$/metre)

All pieces were 3m and very good quality. Compared to the prices in the larger stores, the coupons were around 1-2€ less per metre. Next time I’ll definitely be sure to go in the morning. By the time I got there at 1pm, there were piles of fabrics that had been pulled from the neatly folded bins to dig through. Not exactly efficient!

It’s interesting how each country has their own systems for fabric stores. In Canada, you pick out a bolt and bring it to a cutting table and they write down the amount on a little slip which you then (eventually) take to the cash. In Glasgow you do that same except that the attendant then carries the fabric to the register and you have to pay right then. Personally I find this arrangement really irritating as you have to then collect all your bolts at one time and bring them all at one to cutting table. In Paris there are no cutting tables. Instead there are attendants walking around with metre sticks who measure out the fabric right on top of the racks. Now, since I bought only remnants this trip I can’t review the efficiency of this particular arrangement however I do feel that this could lead to less accurate cuttings. As well, you have to pay for your fabrics before heading to the next floor. Understandably necessary but irritating.

Eighteenth century and Regency period enthusiasts would really enjoy the fabrics available. Eighteenth century prints and brocades abound as well as many varieties of print provençal cottons and sprigged muslins. I expect I will go back and pick up some variously printed things during my time here. Probably at least one provençal cotton like this one, and eighteenth century style floral print, a sprigged muslin, and some nice cotton voile.

I must admit that I was disappointed with the silk selection in the larger stores. Now, there was plenty available however most were printed inappropriately, prohibitably expensive, or blended with synthetics. Silks besides dupioni were very much available however I had hoped to see some nice examples of painted warp silk (chaine a la branche) and was disappointed there. Still I have not seen all there is! I spent a good three hours exploring the possibilities. I’m sure I’ll be returning soon.

Sleeves are Hard

The Sewing:

Sleeves are very hard. At least these ones are. I tried one mockup and it just made me tired. Left to do is the hem, inside finishing on the bodice and sleeve. Luckily things came in the mail to distract me today!


I was just this morning wondering when the various things I ordered were going to arrive and then lo and behold – fabric distraction! On the left is some more hemp braid for a new bonnet from the Dressmaker’s Shop, next is some cotton sateen from Renaisance Fabrics for my Daffodown Dilly stays, and finally some blue cotton check and handkerchief linen from Wm. Booth Draper. The check cotton is destined to be a pinner apron and and linen for a new day cap and one of those cute eighteenth century shifts with the elbow length sleeves with a cuff.

I’ve already started on the new bonnet – it will be really similar to the green one except better. I’m taking more care with this one and I’ve learned a lot since I made the first one.

The Sundry:

I still do not have a visa. At this point I have no idea what on earth is going on or when I could expect to hear from them. Bummer.

In better news a couple of my friends are throwing me a going away party which I am really looking forward to! It should be a fun time.