Cherished Collections: buttons and lace

The moment I read about Casey’s project of a blog tour about collections, I knew I wanted to be part of it. I’ve always been collecting things since I was a little girl. I believe there is something that we could call a “collector mind or spirit” that some people have and others haven’t. Those who don’t can never understand the reason behind collections. And those who do tend to amass things. I have several consiously chosen collections that I have built over the years, and some that just kind of built themselves through gifts and unplanned buyings. It took me a while to decide what I was going to talk about. Of course just after my teaser post last Sunday I started a new sewing project that gave me a totally different topic idea. I actually started to write two versions of this post on totally different subjects. The more I thought about it, the more I felt the new version was a better match for this blog tour. So I’m switching subjects and keeping my first idea in a corner of my head for a future post.

The collection I’m going to share is a treasure I discovered unexpectedly, not a collection I built myself, which is why I didn’t think of it as a suitable subject at first. It is hidden is those old boxes and tins. Can you guess what it is (you can actually see a glimpse of the content through the plastic boxes)? I didn’t when I first found them. They contain a nice collection of buttons!

To understand why it is special to me I have to explain how I came to have those boxes. When we arrived back in France in 2009 we were very lucky to find a temporary lodging among relatives. The people our house belonged to got too old to live by themselves so it was left empty, but wasn’t sold at first. We were allowed to live in there for some time in exchange for taking care of it. Those persons aren’t really blood relatives but I’ve known them since I was a child. I should say that the house hasn’t been emptied before we got there, so it was still full of its owners things. When we left we did a big clean up of all the rooms, going through everything. That’s when I discovered the tins, in a corner of the kitchen shelves. When I oppened them and found out what was inside I really felt like a child discovering a hidden treasure. I instantly called my mother to ask if I could keep them.

Full size pictures: First boxSecond boxThird boxFourth box

Because of this it is a “cherished” collection in many ways. First because I’m happy to have those buttons to turn to when I need some. And the fact that they have a history of their own makes them that little bit extra specials. But what makes them really special is whom they belonged to. That lady and I have absolutely no blood in common, but she saw me grow up and I love her as if she was my grand-mother for real. Not being real blood relatives make things a little less easy now she doesn’t live in her house anymore, especially since she’s now at the other side of France. So I feel happy to have her buttons, it’s like a special gift from her to me because I’m the only one who sews. And of course the last reason that make those buttons so perfect for this tour is that they have been someone else’s cherished collection before. It probably took her some time to amass all those buttons. Maybe she took some out of old clothes, she bought others, and slowly it became this collection I inherited. Isn’t it great?

There are different sizes and colours, although she seemed to like neutrals (light colors and blacks), blues and browns. Some of them seem to be the exact same design with slightly different colors. I wonder if it could be the effect of time on them or if they were different from the beginning. I love how she tied similar buttons together with a bit of thread! I never thought of that. I might do it with my other buttons. I included here a few pictures of some of the decorated buttons.

I’ll leave you with more eye candy and less talk. I took the opportunity to share another collection with you: my lace/crochet doilies and motifs collection. Those pieces come from various places (the first ones I got in Japan), some are vintage, others are new. I think the thing that started this addiction is this book which gave me new ideas on how to use lace. I love lace, I love how delicate and pretty it is. I’d love to use them as decorations in sewing projects (that’s the excuse I give myself when I buy them, I only get pieces I think I might use later).

Edit: I’ve decided to include all the doilies pictures here instead of directing you to Flickr. ^^There are not so many so the post won’t be too long and it will be easier for you.

Thank you for your visit and be sure to go to Casey’s blog to check all the other wonderful entries to the tour. ^_^

Blog tour teaser

I’m happy to announce that I will be part of Casey‘s blog tour “Cherished Collections”. So please come back here on July 22 (that’s my assigned date, next Friday) to learn more about one of my collections. I’m trying to prepare something fun and sewing related but still a tiny bit different from what you usually see around here.

In the meantime I suggest to those who don’t know Casey yet (is this possible?) to go take a look at her blog, Casey’s Elegant Musings. It’s always an interesting and inspiring read, with pretty outfits, vintage finds, tutorials, little pieces of advice and anything you need to get your sewing/styling fix. ^^

Lucky finds n°1

The past couple of months I’ve been doing a few garage sales. I’m not a regular visitor of yard sales and flea markets, but I’ve been thinking about it more and more lately. Seeing all the gems people find at such sales (especially in the US it seems) has motivated me to go and look for old sewing related things. I was lucky to have several of such sales organized where I was spending time during the week-ends. My first “hunt” was on French Mother’s day, on May 29th. We went to have lunch with my mother, and just as we arrived in her town we saw a big sign for a yard sale happening just that day. We did a little family trip there after eating, and I have to say it was an excellent idea, as I came back with two wonderful items!

Wonder n°1

This engraving (which I got with the frame) is from the old French magazine “La Mode Illustrée”. The frame isn’t in the best shape but it’s useful as a protection for the plate. I’ll see if I keep it or not. I think this would be lovely hung on the wall of my sewing corner. ^_^

Wonder n°2


This is a collection of magazines called “Le journal de la beauté” (“Beauty magazine”) going from November 28, 1897 to November 1st, 1898. The binding is a little damaged and some pages are folded or have small rips, but it’s a real gem!When I saw this big book with its unusual size and the year engraved on the edge, I instantly thought of the old fashion magazines collections I had seen at antique bookshops. And I was right! I was so happy when I opened it.

It was love at first sight. All those drawings, the old-fashioned texts and pieces of advice, it’s just perfect! I intend to take my time and fully enjoy this book, picking little bits of texts here and there, savoring the insights of what life was at that time and the wonderful outfits.And as if this wasn’t enough, I found a small bonus hidden at the end of the book: a piece of paper taken from “Le Petit Echo de la mode”, which seems to be from the 30s (although I’m no specialist of this time period, so I could be wrong). I don’t have any picture of it yet, I found it afterwards. I’ll show it later.The best part of this is that the whole lot cost me… 3 euros! Since I’m used to prices on Ebay or specialized shops in Paris I just couldn’t believe it. I’ve been so lucky!! I’m really happy I found those items. The only problem is to find where to put this wonderful but huge and fragile book. ^^; Of course this got me totally hooked on yard sales and I after that I wanted to go to more, even though I knew I probably wouldn’t get that lucky each time. We have an expression for this in French that says it’s beginner’s luck. I’ve done other sales since this first one and for now I’ve always found something interesting, although I have to admit not as impressive and uncommon as this book. But this will be the subject of a future post.

Ribbon skirt

Today I’m sharing a simple skirt I made a few months ago. I didn’t want to post it for some time, because it’s not a totally completed project (I’ll explain why below), but since I’m wearing it a lot lately, I want to share it anyway.

It was a really simple project that I made without a pattern: a rectangle skirt with an elastic waist. The only trick is that since I wanted it to be really full at the bottom but not have a very thick waist, I made it a tiny bit more complicated that just a piece of fabric + an elastic. The skirt is made of two pannels cut in the whole width of the fabric. I started by gathering and attaching the skirt to a waistband about the size of my hips, and then added elastic inside this reduced waistband. It’s not as elegant as with a “flat” fixed waistband, but it’s more comfortable. ^^ The side seams are french seams and the hem is a machine-made invisible hem, for a nice finishing touch.

To make it a little bit fancier I decided to add a detachable bow of the same fabric. I think the shape of the finished skirt reminded me of the skirts japanese women tend to wear and that inspired the bow. It’s exactly the kind of details you see in japanese fashion that aren’t so common in western countries (I think). I love this girly touch, and the skirt looks different depending on whether I add the bow or not, more elegant or more casual. I’m really happy with this project even if it was quite simple. It’s a real pleasure to wear, I feel pretty and feminine in it. I wanted to make other accessories to try and create a whole look, but I haven’t done anything more yet. We’ll see if I add something in the future.

I got the fabric on sale in Japan a short time before I left for France, in 2009. The funny thing is that I was planning on using it quickly! ^^; I loved the embroidery/lace motif and the rich brown color. Since the fabric isn’t very thick (meaning it can be a little see-through) and it’s 100% cotton (meaning it will cling to my tights in winter), I had bought some lining fabric to go with it and line the skirt. And here comes the part where the skirt isn’t really done yet: I mixed up the steps when I attached the gathered skirt to the waistband, which made it impossible to add a lining properly. Since I didn’t want to undo everything, I decided to leave the skirt as is and make a separate petticoat/half slip (not sure if there’s a difference between the two words) with the lining fabric. And of course I still haven’t made it to this day. It’s not really needed for summer (the skirt isn’t that much see-through), so I guess I’ll make it this autumn if I need it. ;p

PS: the lovely shoes I’m wearing in those pictures come from Eram, I bought them on sale last winter. They’re made of three shades of brown (the last one being almost burgundy).