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Sunday, 20 September 2009


When I lived in France I made several French friends and one of the ladies I palled up with was a lovely, slightly Bohemian madame who I met at a yoga class. It turned out that she lived not far from me and so we joined forces to share the driving to the next town where the yoga classes were held and our friendship was cemented during the 20 minutes there and back each week.

As well as yoga she also went to a patchwork group and invited me to join her at that. I had never really done any patchwork, apart from the crazy sort which I had taught myself having seen it in a book, but thought it might be fun. I was wrong about the fun bit as although the ladies were all incredibly welcoming and friendly the actual patchwork was definitely not FUN! It was deadly serious.

To start with it was a workshop rather than a class and so to belong to the group one had to at least know the rudiments of the craft. To this end there were a series of 4 one-day classes for us total beginners at which we learned how to do squares, curves, applique and finally quilting. Now we were qualified to join in the Friday sessions.

Madame le President was a slightly forbidding lady (although once I got to know her better I realised she was actually very nice) and she used to wander round stopping at each member and looking at what they were doing. When she saw my handiwork she was somewhat critical and it was always "Tut! tut! Vos points sont tros groses"! My stitches were too big (the work was all done by hand).

The French are always very precise in what they do and they really didn't understand the attitude of les anglaises who had a more laid back attitude to things at all. "That'll do" has no place in their vocabulary and any mistakes are painstakingly unpicked and re done till the work is perfect.

However it was a way to get to know people and the patchwork ladies were all so lovely that I did persevere although I never did get to grips with patchwork as you will know from my previous posts!

I loved my Bohemian friend's attitude to Madame le President - she told me to say "Oui, oui madame, merci beaucoup" whilst nodding politely and then to continue doing it how I liked!! One of the group ladies keeps in touch with me by e-mail and sends me photos and cuttings from the local paper which - perhaps due to the lack of anything exciting to report - often attends the group's meetings and takes photos for the paper!

Once a year there was an outing and I went along on 2 of those. The first year was great fun as we went to Aubusson by coach stopping off at a little town whose name escapes me but which had a shirt museum - I kid you not! It seems the town had been famous in the past for making quality shirts and the museum was actually quite interesting having shirts from the year dot to the present day and including one made for Frank Sinatra which had a flap which went from the back down between his legs to button at the front - to preven it coming untucked during his song and dance routines! We stoppped off for a coffee in a little cafe there and a couple of the ladies produced packets of biscuits which we devoured with our drinks (that would be frowned upon here but seemed quite acceptable there!)
After the shirt museum we went on to Aubusson to see some tapestries there. They were absolutely stunning although not everyone was as taken with them as I was - perhaps because they were so different - and were designed by Dom Robert a Dominican monk who died in 1997 aged 90 which surprised me since the designs were so modern and brightly coloured. I hope that the link I have inserted will work and take you to a page showing some of his work - if not do look him up on the internet.

The second time I went on an outing with the group we went to see a textile exhibition which was again stunning and the pictures I have posted were all taken at that exhibition. It is perhaps as well that my batteries in my camera ran out or I might be still there as there were many stunning exhibits.

I loved these pieces but again they were not all appreciated by the patchwork ladies especially those of a certain age who seem to prefer the more traditional sort of work with tiny stitches and a definite pattern rather than these more abstract works.

There I must leave it for now as the sun is shining and I must get out in the garden to plant up some pansies and put some bulbs in. Enjoy the remainder of the weekend.
Edited after viewing - I can't seem to get the link to work but if you go to Google Images and type in Dom Robert you will get a page showing his work - sorry I'll master it all eventually!


  1. I love the patchwork, very colourful just how i like it!! :P
    hope you have a nice week
    Lucy x

  2. Now you got me confused. You see, just as I was thinking I wouldn't like the French as I'm a very 'That will do' person, you go ahead with the cafe-packet of biscuits incident. Ah well, I need to read more to decide.
    Good thing you posted this on a Sunday.

  3. Second attempt at leaving a comment: Poxy "Blogger" ate my first one.... sigh.

    Right.... here goes..... I loved this post. A good insight into the French. That top photo is a beauty. Thanks. :O)

  4. An blog that starts with "When I lived in France" will capture my eye. What a splash of wonderful color this has brought to the end of a great, busy weekend. The rain has finally started here and your colorful display is a cheerful sight.

  5. Another interesting and lovely post on your time in France. I love the patchwork photos, they are so colourful! Your post confirms there is no French in my blood as my sewing methods are far to haphazard and wonky :-)

  6. I really look forward to your French Idyll postings and these insights into French life and the difference in cultures, not immediately obvious when just holidaying there. As for the patchwork designs - they are really beautiful.

    Off to catch up on some previous posts now.

    Jeanne x

  7. Such beautiful hangings and the attention to detail 'wow!'

    Nina x

  8. Beautiful post - insightful and inspirational!

  9. Jane, Thankyou so much for sharing these with us! I find them all just wonderful, & love the bright colours.
    I find that if I upload my pics, & don't move them,(ie, repostition) but rather, write the post around & between them, they will enlarge- or 'embiggen', to use blog-speak! - and it is always nice to see things in close-up detail.

  10. Well, I LOVE that style, in additon to the more traditional patchwork/quilting style. Beautiful photos, I would have loved to have seen the exhibit in person--very inspiring.


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