Where to Buy Fabric in Provence

Considering that we’re living in a city of approximately 100,000 people, sewing supplies and fabric are amazingly difficult to find in the Avignon area. There is one fabric store in Avignon (Tissu Rotonde I think) which has a reasonable supply of all types of fabric and some patterns but no notions. In our neighborhood in the old city there is one sewing machine shop that sells zippers, some needlework supplies,
nylons and tights. There’s also a haberdashery with adorable buttons and trims. For better or worse, as far as I can tell there are no national chains stores. The important question is: “Are there no home sewists or ???”

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You may know about the amazing European tradition of holding markets in small town. We have visited quite a number of these markets, which are the source for fresh fruits, vegetables and meat, but also the place to buy sewing notions and some fabric. At the Arles market there’s even a sewing machine repair man (above picture). Some vendors have notions.

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Fabric is also sold in the local markets. Vendors have a van loaded with rolls of fabric, which are unloaded on market days. The vendors of course, have a limited supply of fabric and most is home decorator fabric.

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As far as I can tell, the sources for fabric in Rural France, just like in the US. What a sad situation for home sewists. While it’s great that there still is a fabric source, it’s less than ideal. What’s a sewist to do?

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Super Secure Travel Pocket DIY

In the past I have posted about a “safe travel pocket as an option for dissuading those pesky pick-pocketers whose life skill is to victimize travelers.

Since we have twice been the victims of thugs; once pick pocketed getting onto a bus and once held up at gunpoint, we are probably more conscious of this travel risk than some others. The resulting emotional pain can easily ruin a vacation and it’s associated budget.
Several years ago we began to use the internal security pocket explained in the aforementioned post along with a money belt. It worked well in that it made theft extraordinarily difficult, however Kevin complained that he still needed to carry money in a pocket. To address this we came up with the solution described in this post. It’s a secret zipper-access pocket behind the existing side-entry front pocket of pants or jeans, and Kevin loves it. For those of you who aren’t in love with your sewing machine, do not fear. This is a hand-sewn pocket.

Here’s a photo of the final product and then a tutorial.

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Notions: 7″ zipper, 10 x 10 fabric scrap, straight pins, needle and thread.

Tutorial
1. Determine where in the side facing your leg of your side pocket you would like the secret pocket. Tips: place it at an angle that makes it easy to open it with your hand, long enough so your hand can fit and place it so it can’t be viewed (i.e. hidden)
2. Draw a line where you want to place the zipper, approximately six inches long.

3. Turn the pants inside out to check the placement. Now is the time to make adjustments.

4. Cut the pocket on the line. Reminder – the part of the pocket which faces the leg.

5. Pin the cut edges to the back of the zipper so when stitched it looks like the following photo.

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6. Using a back stitch, stitch the zipper to the pocket, securing the ends well.

7. Cut off end of zipper if too long.

Note: You now have nothing more than a zipper sewn to the existing pocket.

8. For the security pocket, using the pants pocket as a pattern, cut a piece of fabric ¾” larger than the pocket ( in this example I used black mesh).

9. Fold seam edges under and pin fabric to the back side of the pants pocket.

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10. Using a back stitch, sew to pocket sides and bottom. For the top of the security pocket, sew several inches from the waistband. This may vary with the type of pocket. It should look something like this. You can see the zipper through the mesh.

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Give this a try. It’s cheap and easy, and could save you a lot of pain. You can get into your pockets but it’s pretty difficult for a pickpocket.

From “My Fair Lady”

As a Valentine’s Day special, Avignon University and the Avignon Opera had a real treat for us today.  Members of the Avignon Opera performed a selection of songs from “My Fair Lady”. Of course they sang in French but that made no difference because we were familiar with the music. What a wonderful way to promote the Opera, though I’m not sure how necessary that is in a city that already had a vibrant “arts” community. In fact there’s a theatre around nearly every corner.

While the performers were not in costume for this noontime performance, they did have some of the costumes from a recent production of “My Fair Lady” on display. As you can see below, they are gorgeous.

Wish I could post a short video clip, but WordPress and mobile devices are not a very good combo, so you’ll need to settle for some eye candy.

Enjoy!

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Our Avignon Apartment

Our life is pretty simple these days. After traveling in Northern France (of
course including Paris) and Belgium for several weeks, we settled in to our apartment in Avignon. In Provence, life is pretty laid back. Not that life as a retiree is all that rough anyway, but it feels good to be in a perfectly paced environment to hang out for several months.

Our apartment, which we rented through VRBO is in the heart of the old town, and this is the view from our apartment. It’s one of the towers of the Palace of the Pope, which is the 13th Century home of the Pope.

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The apartment is on a narrow street with barely enough room for a car much less a pedestrian alongside the car. It’s in a very, very old mansion that has been divided into apartments. Ours is on the third floor – 44 steps to be exact. Here are several photos of the inside, which has a huge living area, kitchen, bath and two bedrooms (one with a loft). Soon we’ll need all that space as we have a number of guests in the coming weeks.

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Daily, we go to the market to buy fresh ingredients – it’s so easy to make great food when the fruits, vegetables and meat are so fresh. So while I can’t sew, I am cooking and baking a lot; also reading or listening to audio books and knitting.

That’s it for now. Maybe I’ll actually find a fabric store to blog about.

Is Heaven in Paris?

Usually when we travel, I spare Kevin the agony of visiting textile or fabric shops, but this trip is so long that I wouldn’t be able to bear 10 weeks without looking at and drooling over fabric.  So when we visited Sacre Cour (Montmartre) in Paris, and stumbled upon Martre St. Pierre, I sent Kevin sightseeing on his own for a while.  That might be a white lie – I had checked with my friend Mimi to find out how to trip over tables of inexpensive fabric.

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So what did I find? As you can see, there were rolls and rolls of fabric bins of 3 meter cuts. For anyone who likes to bin-dive, this was the place to be. Generally fabric rolls were sorted by fabric type, but not the bins. It was random ‘find an interesting corner, pull and tug” type of shopping. The fabric stores lined the street with mounds of fabric inside and out. Thankfully it wasn’t raining the day we were there but it was windy and cold. loved the overhead heaters one store provided to keep interested shoppers picking through bins.

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What I liked the most was that the stores were full of creative ideas. One store had miniature models wearing outfits – about 20 of them. Next I liked watching people search for fabric with a sketch in hand. Probably saw a dozen or more. I can’t think of a better place to match fabric with a creative design.

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Can you guess what I bought? Nothing – nada. Not because there wasn’t fabric to love, but because we are carrying backpacks and mine was full. That doesn’t mean however that I won’t accumulate fabric now that we are settled into an apartment in Avignon for several months.

In fact, if you know of great fabric stores in the south of France, please let me know.