I’m in Texas! Home! And I didn’t come back empty handed. Or empty minded. I saw so many people I cared about. I ate with so many people I loved. I laughed laughs that came from the heart and from the stomach. My feet were often soaked thanks to rain but it didn’t matter because I was with my friends. On top of the Benin stories I haven’t yet shared, now there’s a European side story as well. But first will you help me unpack my luggage? First up are some French indie patterns. Most of them I bought, but one of them, the Deer and Doe Belladone was a gift. A gift wrapped in handcut paper hearts and handed to me over a cup of tea in a house that trembles next to a train station. A gift from Mélanie. Who is Mélanie? Ah, that is a story for later… there’s more unpacking to be done.
I traveled a lot by train to see all those people I liked. Which meant I was always browsing magazine kiosks. So naturally I came back with the French version of German (Burda) and Finnish (Ottobre) sewing magazines.
I also couldn’t resist books by French designers. By the way, France is way ahead on translating those Japanese pattern books. I didn’t buy any because I assume the English editions will catch up eventually, and in any case I like seeing what French designers are up to.
I hit the jackpot with vintage sewing patterns at a flea market. No McCall’s or Simplicity or Butterick to be found here – it’s all Modes et Travaux and Patron Modèle and Femmes d’Aujourd’hui and Le Salon des Modes and Mode Pratique… Best of all, they’re so much cheaper than US Vintage Patterns online! Perhaps the French sewing scene isn’t into vintage patterns… yet? The earliest pattern I bought was from 1912 and the latest from the 80s – I tried to pick a pattern from each decade to vary it up.
The real star of this trio, however, is this small scrap of silk. Not just any silk. It’s Paco Rabanne silk. The story (which doesn’t involve Paris as you’d might assume) comes later, promise. Unpacking first.
Also a gift from Frances. Yep, the one and only pajama party Frances. She knew about my plans for a quilt and found a book for me. As for the conker, well, it just came with and I couldn’t leave it behind.
From London I also brought back a used spool of red thread as well as organic handloom cotton scraps and red cotton lining scraps. ? ? ? Why would I bring back scraps? Hmmm! A good story is behind this one, I promise.
And let’s not forget Benin. This is my treasured Vlisco stash that I didn’t touch while in Benin. I lugged it all the way back to Texas and now here it is!
The only thing is that I already had a stash in Texas. That I kind of forgot about it. I knew I had one, I just thought I had maybe 4-5 pieces of fabric… oops. Being away for a year makes it easy to forget about the things you own. Pictured above is the fabric I purchased from when I did Peace Corps Mali. It was the fabric I wanted to sew in Mali but never did because of the coup d’état. And then it still didn’t get sewn because I then left for Peace Corps Benin. But now I’m back!
When I was in Benin I read about The Refashioners 2013 and discovered Jillian from the ReFashionista as well. They inspired me because I knew I had a ton of ill fitting garmets at home, so i knew that once I was back in Texas I wanted to start fixing the things in my closet. In the past I would’ve grabbed a large plastic sack and filled it up to take to Goodwill – but not this time!
Also, last summer – before I discovered sewing blogs, I went to Barnes and Noble and bought the BurdaStyle sewing handbook in an attempt to learn how to sew. I didn’t take this book to Benin and I regretted it quite often. Right now I’m enjoying reading it from a more intermediate perspective – I’m definitely not overwhelmed anymore when I flip through this book. Last summer it actually terrified me a bit. I didn’t know what BurdaStye was, didn’t know there was a magazine, or even a website. It really was just something I picked up while browsing a bookstore.
But other than the patterns no longer terrifying me, something else is happening – I recognize people in this book! Last year these were just random names, but now as I flip through this book I realize that many of them are sewing bloggers I discovered while in Benin. There is Novita from verypurpleperson, Casey from Casey’s Elegant Musings, Melissa from Fehr Trade, and Chie from Verit Veritas! It’s kind of strange spotting and recognizing bloggers I “know” in a book. I guess it shows how small the online sewing community is.
Casey’s dress variation is on my list.
Jumping back to last summer in Taiwan… I bought some Japanese translated into Chinese sewing books. Although I was a 0 at sewing, I figured that eventually I could make things from them once I became more skilled.
I thought about buying the Colette Zinnia skirt but I don’t think I will after seeing these skirts from this book. Pleats, buttons, gathers, even the inverted pleat patch pockets – I technically already own the Zinnia, just in a different form and most definitely in a different language. As my pattern and pattern book collection grows, I no longer really feel the urge to purchase every single new pattern I see.
The last of the Chinese books is a book entirely dedicated to slippers! Originally this was a present for my mom, but in the entire year I was in Benin she never got around to making any of the shoes in this book.
I’ve never made a quilt before, so this one will be a very simple quilt as I’m not going to run before walking. I’m currently reading lots of tutorials online to figure out what I should be doing. Or what I want to do. At the moment the only idea is to make a rainbow. Maybe not very original, but I think it’s the best way to coordinate all those colorful prints. And with that marks the end of the unpacking! My suitcases and backpacks are flat and back underneath my bed in storage (but not for too long…).