Thursday, September 30, 2010

All Natural

In addition to linens, Metis stocks vintage French decor in natural fibers and materials, such as these oversized tassels (embrasses) in hemp, which were found at the Paris Flea Market~
These would be perfect to tie up a pair of draperies made of our linen or metis; but even one would be great under a glass cloche; sculptural~
each tassel is 9" tall, not including the twisted hemp cording at the top~
well-made and tied at the middle~

We'll be throwing in a little French linen twine to our packaging....

and some sisal~
The tassels will be for sale at our Rose Bowl "store" on October 12th; Space A03 in the Antiques section; see you there, with many many other goodies, which we will be showing you over the next few weeks....

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lovely Laura

Yeah, she's gonna kill me. Or maybe she will just delete this as she is the Editor too :)

A partnership is only as good as your partner. I am so thankful to have Laura Ingalls Gunn of Decor to Adore as my partner in Metis; we are different in some ways, yet so similar, and we share a bond having both lived in Europe. Wait until you see what lovely projects and decor Laura will create with vintage French linens, not to mention the decoration of our booth. It has been an easy creative collaboration; we are both very excited to launch Metis Linens on October 1~

The little pup girls love Laura and hope to see her again soon, and better yet, meet Mr. Rudi, Laura's Dachshund. Just a little thanks here to dear Laura; for those of you who have not met her in person, she is all that you imagine and more.


Le Trousseau

A trousseau de mariage is the French equivalent of our "hope chest" or collection of dowry linens. Trousser is an old French verb that means "to package," and today it also refers to a "kit" or group of "supplies," for example a trousse de secours is a first aid kit, and a trousse scolaire is a child's school supplies, e.g. pens, pencils, erasers etc.

Many people might think of the finest linens going into a bride's trousseau, something like this~

Undoubtedly a fantastic piece of hand-loomed linen & hand embroidery, seamed down the middle and with the beautiful contrasting thread over the letters~

In reality, the traditional trousseau was much more utilitarian, and its contents were very precise.

For the "household linens," the bride would bring:

18 pairs of sheets (top &bottom)
30 pairs of pillowcases
24 aprons
96 dishtowels
46 bath towels
60 table napkins, and
5 tablecloths

These would usually be "marked" with the initials of the husband's family name on the left, and the wife's family name on right right, separated by an "x" or a dot or a line. Here is an exception, his first & last initials, followed by her family name~

"Personal" linens or linge du corps would be the couple's clothing; both would be marked with their initials, his would be his first name and family name, again with a dot or cross or star in between~
and hers would be her first name and husband's family name; she would also bring the following items with her~

24 shirts
12 pantaloons
2 combinations (shirt +pantaloons?)
8 corset-hiders (short little shirts)
8 skirts
2 matinees or morning coats
48 hankies
18 pairs of undergarments

All of this would be assembled by the girl and her mother, over approximately a decade, prior to marriage.

But as time went on, the traditional trousseau rules loosened. You started to see variations, including numbers alone~

Here a dish towel is stamped and dated~

The monograms were used across France, as we know from certain fabrics which are clearly associated with certain regions; here a beautiful 19C toile from the area around Arles, in Provence~
You saw a magnificent example of this fabric recently in Veranda Magazine, the blue check cloth layered on the dining table of the over-the-top cover house in Provence; these three cloths are men's kerchiefs~
We found these at the Paris Flea, and the dealer noted as well that she had rarely seen such fine and tiny embroidery, on a man's item, no less~

Many items of course are never marked or monogrammed; we will stock unmarked and single items as well as sets; though an assortment of similar dishtowels look dreamy too; these are in the pile to go to the lavoir so excuse a few wrinkles~

Put a ribbon or napkin ring (or here, a French curtain ring) around a set of mismatched ones....
...and you have a very interesting and conversation-worthy napkin.
All of these items will be for sale at our Rose Bowl "store" on Sunday, October 12th. Find us in the Antiques section, space A03.

More on our linen sets soon~

Monday, September 27, 2010

Petit Monogram

We tend to think of monogrammed items as a luxury. Maybe today, but not so in yesteryear. Here is a humble kitchen towel, monogrammed by hand, hemmed by hand. In a series of 6, each perfectly identical. Knock my socks off~
In the 19thC and up to the 1950's, at least in France, embroidery was considered part of the education of a young girl and you learned to do your own embroidery. Some women would embroider for others, for extra money; the aristocratic would do needlework simply as a hobby. A "Sampler" is called an Abecedaire in French; here the girls learn their basics~
In the 19C, daily clothes were worn longer, and if you changed your clothes every 8 days that was considered "frequent." Households had many pieces of laundry because washing was done infrequently, and the "big laundry" was done twice each year. Here is the Lavoir, in Pont a Mousson on the Moselle River in France; it is a small building but a formidable edifice, right at the edge of the river as it should be; sort of a 19C laundromat, without the machines, of course~
Spring was the best time to do the big laundry, as the water was not too cold, there was plenty of sun, and the women were not too busy doing other domestic or agricultural work. Though in many regions of France, you can have a sprit of rain any time, so perhaps they worked fast. Here is a monogram on hemp; old but unused~
Linens were called "marked" (numbered or initialed or both), to be sure to tell your laundry apart and sort it out at home. There is "household" laundry such as sheets and towels, and also "personal" laundry, always monogrammed~
also here, a ladies' night shirt~
and here, sweet with the tie~
Many of the numbered linens come from schools or households with large volumes; to be sure there is even use, perhaps? This is a perfect linen bibbed apron~
here too, numbered and monogrammed and very well-used; indication of a large household or other~
Sometimes the little monos get creative~

the initials can represent various first or last names~
or a single initial for just the bride; the set above came with this set below~
for non-personal linens like this tablecloth, the initials will represent his and her names, indicated by the x in between~
If you are lucky you can find your own monogram (here in linen, a kitchen towel); email us if you are searching for a particular monogram, or consult with Laura to get creative using someone else's!
We will show you some great uses for other people's monograms soon...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Welcome to Metis

This is the photo that started it all....

Two blogger friends got talking about the linens of France. Why don't we see more of these classic fabrics in the U.S.? Especially metis, a blend which combines the softness of cotton and the durability of linen. There are some fantastic new linens available on the market, and they look great mixed in with a little vintage....and a business idea was born.

So, let's have fun with vintage French linens including sheeting (for upholstery, drapery or myriad other uses), kitchen towels, napkins and tablecloths~

Let's throw in a few French antiques, and see where our creative inspiration will take us....

Let's keep it simple, with lots of textural objects, and the things we each know and love....baskets and fabrics & craft projects...we have so much in store...

We aim to keep it fresh, keep it reasonable, and keep it authentically French. Stay tuned for lots of fabulous merchandise from a recent trip to France! Please come visit us at the October 10th 2010 Rose Bowl flea market for our first day of sales; our merchandise will also be available at Oma Talley's Cargo & Company showroom at the StoneMill Design Center, 2915 Red Hill Avenue, Costa Mesa CA.

New merchandise and craft ideas will always be available on our blog. We hope you will be as excited about the launch of Metis Linens as we are!