Saturday 20 November 2010

Les boutons et plus

WARNING: Picture heavy post.

I don't know why I added that warning actually, I don't think an excess of images ever caused health problems of any description. Nevermind. It's a few months ago now, but I thought I'd share with you how I went from Barcelona to UK through France back in August this year. I tend to keep this 'ere blog fairly sewing/creation/sustainability/inspiration specific, so don't tend to share holiday paps and the like (in no way criticising those who choose to do so, I LOVE to live varicariously and cyber-travel to places that I haven't been to via other peoples' blogs, particularly Cheap Opulance and Christine's) but as Michelle so eloquently noted, trips can often be catalysts for great bursts inspiration, both during and afterwards.

So here we go (note the sizable chunk of possessions we lugged with us, that big case I'm leaning on could have housed a small family) in Estació de França train station patiently waiting for the delayed train:

Three trains and some crazy border crossing action later, we hit the super-cool city of Lyon! Oh, at this point I should mention that all these photos were taken by my boyfriend who kindly let me steal them, which would explain why I'm in a high percentage of them (he likes to use me as 'foreground' apparantly).

Now, in terms of fueling my sewing obsession, Lyon wasn't directly very useful. The only haberdashers I found was closed for the WHOLE OF AUGUST. Seriously. They thought no-one might need some elastic or a zip for an entire month. But I forgive Lyon for this oversight because I did provide us with one of the most exciting phenomena I've ever experienced: TRABOULES! Secret doors, passageways and internal courtyards to be discovered that you are kind of allowed to snoop around? Hell YES please!!!! I could write whole posts on how interesting these things are, the fascinating history of them and our two-day adventure entering secret doors and coming out in entirely different streets. But I won't. Yet.

In short, Lyon was awesome. If someone told me I had to live there for a year, I certainly wouldn't be pissed off (plus it might mean I'd actually get to the see the inside of that haberdashers!). So, can you guess where we went next? Here's a clue:

I visited Paris briefly once when I was a moody teenager for a college trip, and was dying to explore it as a (considerably less moody) adult. So, culture blah blah blah, art blah blah blah, history blah blah blah blah, architecture blah blah, food blah blah blah blah. Can I talk about sewing now?

There are numerous well written, helpful and informative blog posts already out there about where's hot and where's not to buy fabric and haberdashery in Paris (I know, I read a lot of them before my trip) so I'm not going to try and make another, other than to say, head to the Montmartre area. If you can't see a million fabric shops, walk about a bit until you do. They helpfully clumped them all together. After doing the obligatory walk up to the basilica and squinting my eyes to try and picture what the area looked like when Toulouse Lautrec was wandering about, I hit this shop above. Umm, an eccentric but shoddy and over-priced buttons shop, boo. And then I went into another haberdashers.....

BLAM! Amazingness. I (unhelpfully) can't remember what this shop was called, but I'm pretty sure the French for haberdashers, which I think is 'mercerie', is in massive letters on the facade. This shop had so much of everything. ''Everything', you say?' Yes. 'Even ribbon with baby squirrels on it? Surely not'. Wrong sucker!

Despite only coming away with a couple of metre of bias binding with anchors on (predictable? Moi?!) I left that shop hyped. Check the unconcealable excitement on my face as I approach the jewel in the area's fabric-selling crown:

I'd read awesome things about this epic multi-floored fabric and haberdashery shop. Somehow, despite rolls of fabric numbered in the 1000's, I didn't see any that floated my boat particularly, finding the selection generally conservative. The strange child sized mannequins that I'd been promised however certainly lived up to my expectations:

But heading up to the haberdashery floor certainly didn't disappoint. One word: Boutons.

The last few weeks of life in Barcelona flew by in a rapid whirl of work, destashing and goodbye shindigs and we really didn't spend much time researching Paris and Lyon for our six days in France. But the one thing I didn't fail to figure out in advance was where to shop for sewing stuff. Like a kid on Christmas eve, I had been badly concealing my excitement and impatience for the part of our trip, on the final day, that had been allocated for me to indulge in this activity. I had been subjected to countless linguistic facts about things like 'how many cognates there are between French and English' and 'how to conjugate French -re ending verbs in the Present Tense' for days and days, and I was just itching to get to the pretty buttons. Which is why, when we got to the sewing shops area and my boyfriend begun to feel really strange, light-headed and nauceous, he didn't feel he could tell me until I was done and we had retreated to a bar. He didn't want to risk the mood I would be in if I had to cut this shopping trip short. So the poor boy simply tried to keep his shit together in claustrophobic and busy shop after claustrophobic and busy shop, whilst I inspected every last button Paris had to offer, none the wiser to his situation, with him even mustering up the strength to take these awesome pics (from a batch of many more) to document this day. Thanks Patty! I will endure every language acquisition fact you can throw at me! Promise xxx


Anonymous said...

That haberdashers you can't remember the name of is the haberdashery department of the Marche st Pierre - I was there myself in September. (i wrote up a quick guide to Montmartre fabric shopping over at ThreadCarefully) Unfortunately, I didn't get to look round as much as I wanted. I am planning a return though...

Anonymous said...

Yes, I found myself strangely struggling to pick out a fabric I actually wanted to buy. I think you're right - the selection is a tad conservative. (Though I still think about a silver denim I wish I'd indulged in. Yes, silver!)

Tilly said...

Rats! I just got back from Paris a couple of hours ago, where I was at a really boring conference - should have bunked off and gone here!!!

sewistafashionista said...

Those shops look like a home-sewers dream!

sjwhidden said...

i actually never made it to the fabric district when i was in paris..
but i think i have earned a trip in the spring so maybe then.
great post!

[patty the snug bug] said...

Fun pictures! I want to see more child-sized mannequins!

Unknown said...

I have such a good time reading your blog. I have also nominated you for a blog award :)

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