Puces de Saint Ouen: findings

Here is my last post about our flea market expedition. It’s time to share the lovelies I brought back home with me!

Even though I like many vintage styles, for various reasons I don’t really buy genuine vintage pieces of clothing. I don’t know many real vintage shops and don’t like to buy clothes online, the styles aren’t always what I’m looking for and the price tag often puts me off. In the end I prefer to look at vintage pieces online or in old magazines to get inspiration to sew my own interpretations of my favorite styles. I’m sharing this to describe my state of mind when I left for the flea market: I didn’t intend to spend a lot, especially not in clothes, maybe get some patterns, magazines or lace (I love lace).

While most of the clothes, as expected, didn’t really tempt me, I was surprised to find myself drawn to one type of clothing: lingerie. The pieces that really caught my eye were mostly cute petticoats and delicate slips, lace and ribbon adorned. I love those items that, to me, are expressions of feminity and and elegance, because they shown an attention to all details, even those you can’t see. They’re useful, sometimes essential for a successful outfit, but they’re more than that. They’re not just functional but also pretty and well made. I love that. You can’t find pieces like that easily nowadays, and I don’t feel confident enough to make them myself yet. So of course while I wasn’t the one who was looking for clothes at the beginning, I eventually gave in and came back with two petticoats from the 50s or 60s. To be honest I had been thinking of buying some petticoats for some time, so this wasn’t a complete surprise. And those two were my size and just the length I needed. They don’t have the same amount of puffyness, which will allow me to wear them for different occasions.

This one is the fullest. It’s a little less pretty but still nice with the lace insertion in the middle.

This one flares just a bit, it will be perfect to wear with simple outfits at work. The elastic needs to be changed, but the petticoat is beautiful.

What do you think? Isn’t it nice to wear such lovely undergarments? I wish we could wear nice clothes more often.

The rest of my findings were more typical of what I usually buy: no lace this time, but old magazines and patterns.

From a first shop I got some patterns from the 60s or 70s for room/nightwear (there are 4 outfits), a vintage magazine without any cover and a very nice special issue that focuses on blouses embroidery. All of those were found in an old box in a corner of a shop that wasn’t at all specialized in sewing or clothes. It was quite a lucky finding! The coverless magazine is full of wonderful houseclothes/nightgowns/blouses inspiration. It also has some embroidery motifs. How I wish I could still get the mail-order patterns from this! The motifs in the embroidery magazine are full-size with a text description of the stitches to use and, my favourite, sketches of blouses embellished with the motifs! It gives you ideas on how to use them. This magazine already inspired me some embroideries.

Lastly, I got 5 patterns from 50s or 60s magazines.

Now I regret not taking one or two more patterns. ^^; The patterns were published in magazine and are one-size only. I have no idea of what size I might be in 50′s France, so I will have to measure and probably alter them. The series Casey recently did on pattern grading will be useful! Since they were inside magazines there is more than just the outfit pattern and its instructions: instructions and measurements for other projects, embroidery motifs… It’s fun to discover.

Here you are! My Saint Ouen flea market report is now complete. It was a really fun and fruitful trip! I will surely go back now that I know the place a little, but not two often, that would be bad for my wallet. I’ll try to take more pictures next time.

Puces de Saint Ouen

On Saturday I had my first vintage shopping trip! :) The lovely Jen from Pretty Little Pictures, a fellow seamstress and vintage lover, is currently in France (she lives in Australia) and when she wrote a post on WeSewRetro asking if anyone would like to meet I jumped in. Someone recommended she made a trip to the big flea market in Saint Ouen (north of Paris), known as Les Puces de Saint Ouen, and I offered to accompany her if she planned to go. I had never been there and thought it might be fun. She did want to go, so we spent a few hours there on Saturday and it sure was fun! I’ll split my report (with pictures) in several parts, so that you have a chance of reading it before next month…

After my train being (of course!) delayed due to several minor incidents I finally was able to meet her around 10:30 in the north of Paris. Luckily the weather (which is being rather fickle lately) was really nice, so we were able to walk to the market while chatting. We were both wearing handmade circle skirts and had a little Marilyn moment while passing over a kind of grid on the pavement, which I would have gladly avoided, so be careful with those… After that incident we kept getting worried about our skirts at every wind blow. The flea market of Saint Ouen is quite big, and actually divided in several markets spread along three streets in the south of the city. Each market is quite different from the others, in size, style of items and more importantly in architecture/organization and atmosphere. It was really funny how each one feels quite different. I had done some research on the Internet beforehands and took notes with me, so we had an idea of where to go. We avoided the most expensive historical furniture and art ones, to concentrate on the cheaper and most flea-market like ones. We started with the Vernaison Market, which I really liked. It is the oldest one and they say it remains true to the original style of the flea markets. It’s outdoors, quite big and divided in tiny passageways bordered by little shops. You can really get lost in there if you’re not cautious! I have know idea of what this market’s map would look like, but it sure felt like we turned a lot. The pictures below were taken there.

The shops are quite varied here. We found a few selling vintage clothes, lace or sewing notions, and a lot were just offering a mix of different things among which you can hope to find some of those. In a shop that was mainly sewing furniture we stumbled upon a box full of embroidery patterns with some sewing patterns and magazines mixed in. It was like digging in a treasure box. :) I did my first vintage clothes shopping at this market, I’ll tell you more on what I got in another post. After leaving this market we were quite hungry and stopped in an italian restaurant for lunch. If you ever go there, it’s a little further up the street, after the Dauphine market. It was quite nice and seems to be actually owned by italian people. We then went back a little to visit the aforementioned Dauphine market. This one is indoor, with a big glass roof. It’s divided in straight alleys bordered by shops on two levels. We found an incredible vintage clothes shop there! They had pieces from the 19th century! They had very nice dresses on display on mannequins (which made us want to check it in the first place). They also sell reproductions of victorian boots in limited series. All the outfit pictures shown below were taken there and you can find a few more on my flickr.

There were quite a few other vintage clothes shops, although smaller and not as impressive as this one. And also a little shop specializing in printed materials: old advertisements and drawings but also old magazines and patterns! We spent quite some time there, it was really hard to decide what to get (although Jen has been very reasonable, I was impressed). We found another shop after that also had magazines, patterns and notions.

After this market we went to the Serpette Market. It’s quite expensive and not what we were looking for, but they currently have a wedding dresses exhibition there that we wanted to check. You’ll get pictures in the next post. This market is indoor without natural light and the atmosphere was really different from the other two, not as friendly and nice. We then went to briefly check two other smaller markets in the other streets, which we didn’t like as much. The Passage Market has a big vintage clothes shop (I think it takes at least 1/3 of the place!) but it seemed to be lots of designer pieces, so more expensive. And we couldn’t take pictures of the window! :( We then headed back to Paris, as we were a tiny bit tired from walking all the day. The contrast between the flea market’s atmosphere, with all it old things, and the bordering street we took to go home with its streetwear market merchants was a little weird.

As you can guess I had a really nice time. I loved the flea market and spent a really nice moment with Jen, whom I’m happy to know. She’s a very nice and friendly person and it was fun to discover the market with her and share some time with a fellow vintage-inspired seamstress. I guess I’ll go back to Saint Ouen now that I know it, but I’m afraid it won’t be as fun to go alone. But if you’re ever in the neighborhood and like vintage stuff, I definitely recommend you to go check it out!