Sunday, March 20, 2011

I ♥ The French General

Visiting this LA shop was a treat for my sister and I. We got there on a leisurely Saturday afternoon and stayed 3 hours. There's so much to tell, I didn't want to miss anything so I asked Kaari, the owner to help me fill in the blanks of this post.

Regarding their fabric:
"We started designing fabric for Moda about two years ago when they asked us to design a collection of quilting fabric inspired by 19th century rural France.  We find inspiration for our collections in early French document textiles which we dig out of the flea markets and brocantes in the South of France on our summer travels.  Once we decide upon a theme for a collection, we sort through hundreds of scraps trying to come up with the perfect story, we also include a handful of tickings and checks to round out the collection.  After choosing a theme, such as Pom Pom de Paris, we then begin to research the color of the collection - choosing 4-5 background colors which will serve as the main colors of the collection.  Each design is then hand drawn and hand-colored in Japan by master textile designers.  Screens are made - some with up to 14 different colors - and then strike-offs are printed.  Once we approve the strike-offs, the fabrics are printed in Japan and then sent out to hundreds of quilt and craft shops around the United States and the world.  Our collections have been very popular in Australia and Japan where the French rural look is used in many quilt designs and homes.

(continued) "I have really enjoyed the process of designing fabric and although I am not formally trained I have learned step by step from some of the most creative people in the business who have shared their knowledge and opened up their resources to me.  It has been a great experience and I hope to continue designing fabric, wallpaper and trim in the future."
I really enjoyed looking through their entire selection. Each pattern is more beautiful than the last. I am torn because I don't sew or quilt so I don't know what I would do with the fabric but I'm sure I'll come up with something sooner or later.
There are large work tables across one side of the store, with a lot of chairs. This is where they have workshops.
Kaari, on their events: 
"Workshops at French General are held every month - usually on a Saturday.  We teach lots of vintage jewelry classes - covering all the basics of beading such as wire looping, jump rings and charm making.  We also teach a handful of hand-sewing projects like millinery flowers and old velvet heart pin cushions.  Each month we have a visiting artist who comes and teaches a class or two - anything from paper arts to sewing to dying.
In April, we have master dyer, Denise Lambert, visiting us from the South of France to teach us about Woad (rhymes with road) dying.  This medieval craft produces the eponymous blues that is known as French Blue or Napoleon Blue.  Students are encouraged to bring anything they like to dye and they will be amazed to see their ribbon, lace, yarn or clothing go from an acid yellow, to a grassy green and finally a woad blue by the time they have reached the laundry line to hang their dyed pieces.  It is a magical day - and something that you will only learn at French General - or in France!" Doesn't that sound like fun? You can see photos of the Woad workshop here.

Kaari's husband is Basque (a region of Northern Spain) and they visit his hometown every summer. She found these small santos in a San Sebastian souvenir shop. 

A few more shots from around the shop:

Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, Kaari told me about their getaway to France during the summer. 
"Every summer, for the past three years, we have rented a 17th century French Chateau, an hour north of Toulouse, and taken groups of women to learn to live like rural Frenchwomen. We take field trips to old hat factories, visit farmer's markets and brocantes, get to know local artisans and spend time in the old coach house learning a new craft or two.  This summer we will be taking two different groups of women for a week each - the first week we are lucky to have Wendy Addision and Marcia Ceppos from Tinsel Trading coming to teach letterpress and the second week we have Susan Fuquay from American Quilt Retailer coming to teach block printing,
Sign ups for our Chateau Getaways are in October and rooms sell out pretty quickly - if anyone is interested, we ask them to drop us a note and we will put their name in our book and contact them before we list the weeks on our website and blog."
Doesn't that just sound like heaven? I would love to learn and craft in the south of France, whose with me?
Since we've missed the signups for this year, we'll have to make do until next October with the French General Books. Crafty tutorials, sweet labels, and French decorating, it's all here.
Be sure to visit their online shop and blog. If you are in LA, I would definitely recommend a visit to their brick and mortar shop: 
French General
2009 Riverside Drive
Los Angeles, California 90039

see and share more at much love anna.
please excuse the lack of posts last week. I had some monitor issues with my new computer and had to make multiple trips to the "genius" bar at the apple store. Turns out, the brand new 15inch macbook pros are having this problem and a software update will fix it within the next week. Here's hoping!
all photos taken with my 35mm.


  1. Wow what a shop! Looks amazing in there!

  2. My sis and I would have had a field day as well. Oh. Em. G!!

  3. I want IN on their workshops too. Learning new tricks in a 17th century French chateau sounds incredible! What a great post! Thanks Margaret. And btw, I recommended your stamps to this nice guy named, Tony who runs Slideshow book store in West LA. I hope he gets in touch with you

  4. Ooh! I'd love to shop there :) so many goodies in your photos!
    I have a few of their books and their collections are so gorgeous!
    Lucky you for spending time there. Looks like a lovely afternoon!



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