Raison d'etre

I am enthusiastic about home design and love French antique and vintage treasures.

This blog is about the things I find and use.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

French Passementerie

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French passementerie - that is ornamental trimming of fringes, tassels, bobble and flat trim and used on drapes, cushions, furniture and clothing - is justifiably world renowned both for its variety and excellence of execution.

Today we have access to many and varied trims to enliven our homes but they are mostly made of synthetic materials unless one is prepared to pay premium prices for those in wool or silk.

Before the modern age most trimmings were of natural materials and those made in France were the best in the world.

I search out original trimmings to decorate cushions and curtains but, like everything else treasured and antique, they are getting harder to find and the price seem to go up every time I come across any.


18th century Aubusson tapestry cushion with wool bobble trim



Two wool tassel trims


I was lucky recently and very grateful to be able to buy a stash from a friend who lives in France so there is a spate of cushion making coming on!
















A gorgeous heap of tassel and bobble trims

I also use 18th and 19th century ecclesiastical flat braid as it has a patina which goes well with antique textiles



A variety of 18th and 19th century metallic ecclesiastical trim

Gold metallic tassels used on vestments and church banners are a prize find

Gold Metallic Early 19th century tassels


Well - to get on with those cushions!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Antique French Tapestry

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18th Century French Aubusson Tapestry Cushion / Pillow

Cushions - or pillows as they are the other side of the pond - are a great way of adding instant chateau-chic to a room.  Tapestry has, of course, been used for centuries to enliven and warm the cold, draughty rooms of French chateaux and the echoing stone halls of great English country houses.  No longer needed so much for this purpose in these days of central heating, wonderful large tapestries - hand woven in France and elsewhere  - are stunning decorative elements in more modest as well as Stately Homes.

Over the centuries original tapestries have been moved, adapted, cut to fit new environments or -in many cases - almost left to moulder away.  Of course there are many great survivors of the Aubusson, Gobelins and other great tapisseries of France, of Flemish weavers  and of Mortlake and others in England.  However, these are also expensive.

More affordable are cushions made from old tapestry borders or from recovered parts of large tapestries.  A fragment of an eighteenth century Aubusson tapestry border was used to make the above cushion.  The rather savage-looking, hare - or rabbit - is surrounded by verdure with part of the original border (of the border!) below.

I have managed to find hand-woven French tapestry borders and fragments from the 16th (rather rare) to the early 19th centuries and enjoy extending their lives into the future by making them into cushions.  


A Group of cushions from an 18th century Aubusson Verdure tapestry


Cushion from an 18th century vertical Aubusson border with a Chateau