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.

Twin patterns: reversible wrap circle blouse

Here is my second installment in the “twin patterns” series. This time things are a little different: we’re not talking about different colored versions of the same pattern. While looking for wrap blouse ideas I found those two patterns, from two different companies, that are exactly the same. Here are Simplicity 5397 “Reversible Wrap and Tie Blouse” and Butterick 6835 “Wrap-and-Go Blouse” : a donut shape with a band at the top and bottom to wrap/tie the top at the waist, closing the sides and creating a sleeve effect.

(source: Vintage Patterns wiki)

I found it amusing to find exactly the same pattern by two different companies. Obviously those were released during the same era, but I don’t know their exact publication year. I wonder if they both had the same idea at the same time, or if one was released and then the other company thought it had to sell the same style so as not to be left out. It makes me think this was a popular clothing item at that time. Or maybe one company released it earlier in the decade, and when it got out of print the other tried to release the same style? It’s a very basic pattern, so maybe there are tiny variations between the two but they can’t be very important. You can also wonder wether other big (or small) pattern companies also released their version of this pattern.

I actually quite like this style. I think it would make a nice over-blouse in a sheer fabric with a tank top underneath in summer (you can probably see quite a lot of the body through those huge sleeves when you lift your arms), or in any fabric with a long sleeved top in autumn/winter. The flowing sleeves are quite typical of the 70s, but wouldn’t look that much out of place today.

What do you think? Do you like it? Do you know of other patterns that were released by several companies?

New book covers

I know I still have to share my findings from the flea market, but as you may have noticed, I have little free time lately. So I thought for now I’d show you two new book covers I made (tutorial can be found here).

The first one was made for my mother’s birthday. It’s not a recent project, as her birthday happened before Giveaway day. This cover and the one from the giveaway share a common base fabric. I chose this fabric for my mother’s because it’s actually a remnant she gave me a few years ago, so I thought the reference would be nice. And since I really liked it I decided to use it again as my basis for the giveaway.

This time I embellished the cover with appliqués in a parchment-like print. I love this other fabric, because of the old style lettering and the way it imitates pieces of old pages in random order. It’s a really nice text style print.

I also added lace to embellish the sewn-on fold, with a tiny leftover piece added in the opposite corner.

The second one I made for my husband.

As I already told you I have a friend coming over for sewing evenings once a week. She’s the one who bought this fabric at first, while I was trying to be reasonable and resisted the nice Japan inspired print. Of course she made a book cover with it. And when she showed it to my husband, he said he really liked that fabric and would very much enjoy a cover like that. What was I supposed to do? It’s not often he asks for something handmade. So I went back and bought some of this fabric. So much for being reasonable… His birthday was not long after so I made it for the occasion.

I used a fabric from the home dec section at Reine for the lining, and let me tell you, it’s perfect! It’s not too heavy or rigid, but it adds a nice body to the cover. It’s the best lining fabric I used so far! It’s cotton but I don’t remember the exact type, I’ll have to check again. If you make the cover from the tutorial, definitely try some heavier weight fabric to hold it better.

I didn’t have much to in terms of embellishments as the fabric is really nice as it is. I just was really careful with my pattern positioning to get the best of it, and enlarged the sewn-on fold to be sure that the whole motifs would show. To make it more personal I also added some tiny embroidery to the lining. It won’t show most of the time, but he will see it when he takes a new book, and he will know it’s there the rest of the time. It’s like a secret smile just for him. ^_^

I have a good length of fabric left, i hope to make good use of it (already have some ideas).

Twin patterns

I was looking at vintage patterns on Etsy the other day when I stumbled upon something that always amuses me: two identical patterns, from the same company, with the same serial number, but which envelope illustrations are in different colors. You can see that quite regularly, at least in vintage patterns. I thought it would be fun to share here, so I decided to start an ongoing mini-series on this theme.

So for today I offer you Butterick 6747, which dates from 1953 according to the Vintage Pattern Wiki. The variation is quite simple here, since only the motifs on one of the dresses are a different color:

(sources: CynicalGirl and VogueVixens. Click on the images to see bigger versions)

When I see things like that I always take a moment to compare the variations, to see if I like one better. Here I think I prefer the red one, as I feel it has more character. Do you have a favourite between those two covers?

I’m wondering what could have been the cause for those variations. Is one of those a later release? Could they be regional variations? Did they release them both at the same time but in different colors? If any of you know the answer, or want to make a guess, please leave a comment! :)

I don’t know yet what the frequency of those “twin patterns” post will be, or how long it will last. I will improvise as I go along, depending on my discoveries. If you have some to share please send me an email to lholy_chan [[at]] yahoo [[dot]] fr and I’ll post them here (giving you credit of course). ^_^ It can also be identical patterns released at different times which therefore have different serial numbers.

Puces de Saint Ouen: wedding dresses

Here comes the second part of my flea market report. Last time I mentioned that we visited a wedding dresses exhibition currently held at the Serpette market. I took pictures of most of the dresses, pictures that I’m sharing today. The exhibition is quite small, but some of the dresses are really nice. I you do happen to be at the flea market, it’s worth going to check them out. The exhibited dresses are actually on sale, so they change all along the exhibition as people buy them and take them home. Here is an overview of those we got to see last saturday.

This black dress facing the exhibition room entrance is of course modern:

According to the exhibition staff, this dress below dates from the 40s. I wouldn’t have guessed!

This one is from the beginning of the 20th century. Look at that lace:

This one as you would have guessed is from the 50s:

And last is this outfit which suprised us a little. I wouldn’t have worn that to my wedding, but to each his own.

The pictures are all available on my Flickr stream, where you can see them bigger if you want. And if you want to see the dresses for real, they’re in the exhibition gallery, alley 6 of the Serpette market (which is on the street named rue des rosiers).

In the last part of this report I’ll show you what I came back home with. ^^ But this will have to wait until next week, as I’m going to visit family this week-end.

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!