Serge de Nimes or Denim?

Recently we took a day trip to the lovely city of Nimes, Fr (the “i” is really suppose to have a ^ over it but I’m not that accomplished with an iphone keypad). At any rate, Nimes is a huge city with a historic quarter where there’s a massive Roman coliseum from the first century AD.
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Immediately after this photo was taken it began to pour buckets, so I have no more photos to share but there is some interesting fabric history in this city.

Denim fabric got its name from Nimes. Twill fabric began to be manufactured from wool in the 1600’s, both in Italy and in France. In France and specifically in Nimes, or was called “serge de Nimes”. In the 1800’s, the fabric was made from cotton only and continued with the same name, but was shortened to “de Nimes” (pronounced “neem”) or “denim”. In the world of Google Translate, “serge de coton” translates to “twill”, of which one type is denim, the most commonly worn fabric in the western world.

To close out this post I could show you a boring photo of denim, or a photo of the amazing Pont du Gard aqueduct which was also built in about the first century AD, to carry water to Nimes.

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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?

Three Reasons to Visit Rouen, FR

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Before this week, I naively admit that I’ve never heard of Rouen, France (north of Paris near Normandy). But now that I’ve been there are really more than 3 reasons to visit this beautiful city; to see the fabulous Rouen Cathedral,to see where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake or to walk through the old town, which is where we stayed.  Amazingly, there are two yarn stores and a huge button store within several blocks of each other.  This is sewing and knitting heaven.

Homo Roussel

this tiny store is up the street from the Joan of Arc Memorial as you go toward the Cathedral.  It has an entire wall of buttons. It’s admirers were just about lining up to get in the store. In particular, two women were there with winter coats with a missing button? my bet is that they found one to match.  In addition there is a small amount of yarn, some cottons and lots do sewing notions. Oh how I wish this store could be in my neighborhood.

In addition there were two knitting store – one a Phildar  store and another with a number of brands.

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