UPCYCLING VINTAGE FRENCH FABRICS INTO TODAY'S DESIRED NICETIES AND NECESSITIES.

After years of reading other people's great blogs here I am making my own. My name is Stephanie Murray and I am highland Scottish. Although my roots are very important to me in everything I do in daily life I have chosen to live in France since leaving St. Martin's school of art in London some hundred years ago ! After more than thirty years of working in Haute Couture in Paris France, after moving to Brazil and creating my own label, after moving once more to China and after deciding to come 'home' to France I finally set up home in the south in sunny Nimes. In Paris I met up with Britt, a photographer from Minnesota with whom I shared the love of Jack Russells and France and vintage stuff and markets and anything transformable from oldly loved to possibly newly loveable. We ended up both in Nimes and began to collect French fabrics and tapestries and anything we could make into something. I found a great old apartment with huge rooms and high ceilings in the historic center and set up my workroom once more accompanied by my two Jack Russells Alias and Dora. Finally after years of dressing all the world famous models for dozens of fashion shows for designers such as Chloé, Inès de la Fressange, Karl Lagerfeld and Antonio Marras I decided to give up fashion as regards frocks and settle into deco-design and am working through a range of products made from upcycled, almost throw away materials. Here are a few of the pillows and bags and things made from our vintage finds which I sell on Etsy.com under our common store 'Metroart' a fabulous idea for a website presenting a window into people's craftwork from all over the world.

mercredi 27 avril 2011

Little Women

 Research, maquettes, trials and errors but fun !
 You have to suffer to be beautiful !!
 Experimenting with faces .

 The finished doll and clothes !! such fun, took ages and ages and had to force myself to stop otherwise I would be writing her books !
 She looks as sereine as I would like to feel ! Notice her leather purse, it is lined in print and even has a coin inside for luck !
 She is after all a designer!! the sketchbook is full of collage and designs.
The contents of her basket which is made from an antique glass holder. Notice the ladurée box, it even has some crumbs left inside.......
 I couldn't have her without underwear! needs some lace but couldn't find some the right scale. Yet !

And here is the 'piece de resistance' the cashmere cardie ! made from a wash accident and edged in a crochet trim using embroidery thread to get the scale right. Even has a MiniMurray label inside just like a grown up one. Notice the two pockets and even the hand embroidered monogrammed hankie !! in case.
After much drawing and tests and research I finally made a doll. In the beginning I thought 'easy as pie' but proportions, materials, stuffings then the face ! yikes some were creepy ! I finally got the proportions right but then again the nicest dolls I've seen are not anatomically correct, go figure. What I really wanted to do of course was to make the clothes ! My first finished doll as you can see here ended up in 'toile de Jouy' turning it almost into a sculpture then came the good part for me. The clothes took ages ! The dress is made from an antique child's bedcover and it is lined in simple coton to give it a nice finish inside, maniac me ! I then decided that she needed a bra and panties and I found some fine floral print for that so they can even be taken off as can all the other clothes. I myself only wear cashmeres so I made the doll one out of a wash accident ! The cashmere is gorgeous and a nice grey so I cut it down and then hand crocheted the edging giving it a little pink frill to tie in with the dress print and even added two pockets. As I always have a hankie in my pockets I then made a miniature one and even went as far as to hand embroider the initial S in the corner ! I think that I could make grown up clothes quicker! Also as I always have a tote I decided to make one and ended up transforming a vintage glass cover ( from an antique market in Brazil )  in coton crochet which had been hand painted some 60 years ago I reckon. I gave it a beige leather handle and inside put a sketch book, a purse in beige leather lined in coton print ( with a coin inside for luck ), a miniature box of Ladurée cakes ( no cakes inside, all eaten! ) a bunch of red roses and a key ring with the key to her house ! I added a coton print scarf and a MiniMurray pendant to the basket to tie it in with the label and the buckle on the dress belt which I made from a MiniMurray button. Then I stopped as I had already spent a week on it ! As I mean to sell her I can't reasonably ask the person to pay too much ! I have called her French Bobo Chic to give her a name and each doll will be called differently of course reflecting her style and appearance.  I have already begun the next doll which will be totally different , Urban Retro next stop !  

lundi 18 avril 2011

The latest adventure from my workroom!

 After spending a lot of time on pillows I decided to have a go at totes! Always in search of the perfect bag I had made a few in my past collections in Brazil that people love a lot so this year I tried to make something different and see the reaction. These totes are seemingly small but in fact contain masses of stuff and are sooooooo well sewn that you can go to the beach and pick up a ton of stuff for your shelves and it wont give way. I made a black one for myself from a piece of 'Robert le Hero' fabric picked up at the market in Paris and kept under my bonnet.


 The black one is MINE, so don't bother looking too closely !! a one off !
 Love this deck chair stripe, the fabric is so strong!! it is French designer fabric picked up in Paris and lined in a great bight red coton.
This has to be a favorite, everyone who has seen it loves it. The fabric is great, too heavy for clothes and anyway not much of it unfortunately, it is perfect for totes. Lined in a lovely pink striped coton, both fabrics are vintage.
 This modern fabric was white until Britt got her hands on it and dyed it this lovely duck blue !! I lined it with a French thirties toile de Jouy coton depicting a beach scene, very Deauville !!
 Kept this for ages, never sure what to do with it, made a pillow in fifties patchwork but wasn't really totally pleased. I think that it makes a great tote. I lined it in a fab fifties red based coton in the same style.
 This one is 'chic' as the French say. There is something 'Ralph Laurenish' about it, a perfect summer tote lined in a vintage floral print in coton.
 Loved this fabric but oh so hard to know what to do with it !! makes a great tote but knowing me I would lose it on the stony beach rock hunting!

 This huge one was a trial as girls these days seem to need bags big enough to carry their lives in !!! If I were to do this my tote would be a mile high ! I added a bow to make it more 'it' than 'was' and lined it in a great linen/coton mix in mid grey. I am sure that someone will fall for it, we will see how the battle of the totes rages and who wins !! Must make a micro tote one of these days for fun.
Here you can see the difference in size. The large one mesures 43 centimetres high against 35 for the smaller one and has a circumference of 98 against 73 for the one on the right. Both bags can be worn on the shoulder as their straps are respectively 36 and 43 cms,,, yes only 36 for the big one but the opening is larger so it easily fits on the shoulder.

Next project, DOLLS !!!

dimanche 17 avril 2011

The MiniMurray label.


Here is the tag that went with my label MiniMurray taken from a vintage postcard that I restored and transformed, the name being placed to one side. The label itself as you can see is slightly different and was woven in São Paulo, Brazil by a company called Haco who made all my labels for the different collections. The 'allover' design was made to line my purses and the doggie trim for ribbons. This label was a secondary line meant for the more girly 'petite' client and for a children's wear line that I never had time to fully develope unfortunately. I think that it lends itself well to design products.

Vintage photo pillows.






These pillows have to be my favorites for many reasons. These images were collected over the years and when I lived in Brazil I asked a print company to try printing them for me onto fabric. Finding the right base was not easy as I wanted a good definition on the end result so I chose 340 point Egyptian coton which is usually used for five star hotel bedlinens ! It gives the final result an extra deliscious quality as the coton washes up to a sublimely soft touch. The school photo is from 1928 and is of an English school in São Paulo in Brazil which I found in a local antique street market when working over there. The little girl is an old French postcard and the women are only half the original image of six women from the 1930's, probably Brazilian as the photo was found in the same market as the school photo. I applied the photos onto stiffer linen fabric and backlined them in a patchwork of vintage French fabrics even using the original button closing which I integrated into the pillows. I have more such images to make into pillows or even children's garments like this little dress I made for a friend's now born baby called Sirine where I appliquéd one of the little girl's faces onto the draw-string bag I made to package the gift. I am quite sure that this dress will be packed away for future use. I love doing it and it has given me ideas to make a line of high end childrens wear as one offs.  

Bows and bows.



After so many serious pillows I felt like a change and rediscovered the pleasure of 'appliqué' turning these two pieces of old 'vichy' check into some fun pillows on a completely different theme. My faithful old Brazilian ragdoll kept them company during the photoshoot in the garden to the frustration of my two dogs who dream of chewing him up one day! I backed these two pillows with a beautiful and soft old French satin weave coton printed with lovely roses.  

Toile de Jouy on a theme.




This theme of pillows was inspired by a great piece of expensive 'toile de Jouy' I had been keeping to do something really nice with like cover an antique chair. although I do have quite a few antique chairs to cover I thought finally that it would make great pillows. I cut out each of the images and hand embroidered them onto pieces of natural colored linen then backlined them with some lovely matching red check. The theme of the 'toile' is sport and sporting games in the nineteenth century. They look really good as a group and make me wish I had more toile to play with but unfortunately most of the toile I find is poor quality and as I intend to make my pillows more 'couture' I wait patiently for the next great find. Living in the south of France has many benefits but I do miss the Paris fabric markets and especially the 'marché St. Pierre' up near Montmartre where you can find some great designer fabrics. 

Turning things around.



As I said before most of my tapestries were lovely as is once washed and made into pillows but chance showed me one day that the side that most people never see can be just as beautiful if not more so. Studying the thousands of stitches gave me the idea to show the reverse side of these works of art and turn them into 'something else' . This technique makes the pillows look a hundred years old in the way the English use antique textiles in interior design in England's great old homes. Finding really nice old frayed tapestries is almost imossible unless you are prepared to go to many sales and sift through the piles of musty museum pieces you can sometimes find there. Using the back side of these fifty year old tapestries gives you a hard wearing equivelent that can fit in with modern upcycled interior design. Here are some of my first trials which I think look really good. I backlined them with a gorgeous piece of designer fabric left over from covering one of Britt's sofas some years ago, its a great almost denim color and really compliments the tapestry colors. All the photographs were taken by my friend Britt Erlanson whose work you can see on Getty-Images. The photographs were taken in the gardens of a lovely old French house here in the country.

Tapestry reborn.











At one point I took up tapestry and made thirty or so pillows in a flurry of wool and canvas and neatly stored them away for a future home with a sofa big enough to accomodate them all! In France I began collecting tapestries or 'canevas' as the French say in markets and sales all over the place. Many were really well made and others just had nice colors but they all were framed and had once hung in pride of place before fashions for such things changed. I took pity on these forgotten treasures and over the space of a year or so ended up with dozens of them with the help of my friend Britt who spots some of the nicest ones. The problem is that they are often dusty and musty and they don't lend themselves to the cosiness of pillows but a quick wash and tumble and they all turned out lovely and ready to be hugged. Here are some of the the more classic ones made into pillows, backlined in vintage fabrics or plain linens depending on the theme and are again lined in coton and zippered up.