Shopping for Fabric in Paris

Paris Fabric Hunting!

Initially I had my mind set on perusing textile museums in Paris, and the like…but then, in keeping with the whole Paris Fashion Project mind-set- I decided to go rogue instead! Yes! Shopping like a local in the traditional, long-standing textile shops is what I decided would be way more fun. So off we went to the Montmartre district; known for its artists, craftsman and all that is creative.

Can you spot me at the way bottom…

I particularly enjoyed the little winding roads that brought us right in the heart of the textile shops- everything so quaint and picturesque. I felt like I was walking into a past era- which although quite historical, was especially vibrant and still quite contemporary. So, on this rainy day- seems like it always rains in Paris- off we started at Marche Saint Pierre.

Wanna see what’s inside- Let’s go!

It felt like I was living the 1940’s- I loved it! Let’s take a look at the textiles themselves. Starting off, we have samples sold by the metre of Wax textiles; African fabric and motifs. There’s a whole history behind these that I suppose I will have to do a post just on this one day!

A Marie-Antoinette Kind of Vibe

Next, I was in France, obviously I wanted to check out their Toile de Jouy! This fabric was particularly in style during the 17th and 18th century, not only in the high courts, palaces, but also in the salons of the bourgeoisie. These decorated walls and furniture as well. Let’s take a look!

What also amazed me was the multitude of colourful leather fabric. I’m so used to seeing these only n specialty stores. Usually we get such choices in faux leather (which is overly abundant thee days). Loved the brilliant colours displayed.

And Along Came Tapestry

Another fabric that I love and collect is tapestry. And I was delighted to find large pre-cut swatches that I could use for numerous arts and craft projects. I personally love painting and embroidering on tapestry. Look at the gems I found!

So many floors in this place- it was time to check out the deals in the couture section of this fabric haven; in the basement.

What’s the Difference?

I am a total goner for luscious, elaborately ornate textiles. I love lace especially- with Guipure being my absolute favourite. I bought a meter for a possible shawl, but mostly to cut off swatches for some of my students. Guipure de Paris…le sigh!

Did you know there is actually a difference between lace, guipure and embroidery? Oh yes. So lace is worked within a mesh base (there are no gaps or openings). Guipure is worked on a paper-like foundation which is then torn off, leaving the beautiful open work that you see above. Lastly, embroidery is worked over an actual textile base; think not only threading, but sequins for example. And yet- they all feel like they’re from the same family. Well one thing that’s true, is that they all need a sort of needling to be be worked on- and they can certainly all be done by hand as well. Here’s some beautiful lace:

And these are types of embroidered fabrics that can all still be confused with lace (and it would not really matter if you called them as such! It’s become almost generic). But in actuality you can really see the difference with the purple one that is sequined.

We then walked around some more (this took the whole day!), and walked into another gem of a place.

In here, I found the most beautiful flocked fabrics, brocades and jacquards. I guess the difference between all these types of textiles will be for another time! (Let me know if you’re interested).

I could lose myself in all this deliciousness. Truly, fabrics are the fashion designer’s medium- as paint brushes are the artist’s medium…and from these will flourish the creations that will then adorn the human body; the canvas.

What a fabulous day in Paris- rain and all!

Do you enjoy shopping for fabric? Are you a collector or a creator? I’m a bit of both.

8 thoughts on “Shopping for Fabric in Paris

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  1. Oh, Lucy! These photos are mindblowing! I am definitely a collector…I buy fabric with something in mind, and then promptly forget it! I love toile and lace! I would have been in heaven! Such a beautiful post! If you need a friend the next time you go to Paris…just saying!!!

  2. Wow, so many gorgeous fabrics! What a wonderful thing to do in Paris. That tapestry cat is my favorite…so precious and old-school. I would happily just hang that one on my wall.

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