Before there was Barbie, there was Bleuette Thursday, Feb 18 2010 

Every week, from 1905 through 1960, little girls across the French Republic impatiently awaited “le courier” – the mail – for her weekly edition of La Semaine de Suzette. Contents included stories, advice from a fictional aunt and patterns for dressing Bleuette, the beloved little 10.6” doll. Bleuette was a “gift with purchase” – free with an annual subscription to La Semaine de Suzette.

As an antique reproduction dollmaker, the French dolls are my very favorite (mais oui!), and when a mold became available for Bleuette a few years ago, I couldn’t wait to start recreating her – and especially her little clothes. That is, after all, why I began making dolls, when my little girl’s taste outgrew my talents with needle and thread.

Bleuette patterns from old copies of La Semaine de Suzette are readily available these days. Books, like the hard-to-find François Theimer’s Madame La Poupée Bleuette, feature pages from the Gautier et Langereau catalogues of Bleuette’s prêt-à-porter “trousseau.”

Here are a couple of my Bleuette costumes, with illustrations of the originals from La Semaine de Suzette.

I particularly like to use old hankies for my Bleuette recreations, like the one at the top of this post. The size is right, the designs are proportionate, and the look is vintage. I’ve sold all of the designs in this post on eBay, including one with an accompanying straw hat (above, left). I discovered a supplier of hat forms for Bleuette and found the tiny size a lot less intimidating than full-sized millinery.  And they are so fun to decorate!

Hope you enjoy looking at my Bleuette couture. I’ll post more as I complete work on them.

À bientôt!…Tatie

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Chanel pastel and the Kaiser’s silver Saturday, Jan 30 2010 

Chanel printemps 2010 coutureChanel printemps 2010 coutureChanel printemps 2010 couture

coupe en argent massif

Old sterling available on eBay

macarons Laduree

macarons from laduree.fr

Style.com (Vogue’s online platform) delivers a nice newsletter. Just got through looking at the latest one, and it had a treat for Chanel fans like me: commentary and slideshow on the Spring 2010 couture collection.

Karl Lagerfeld served up lots of romantic liquid silver effects along with dashes of pastel. Brings to mind a delicious combination: heavy, old sterling and macarons from Ladurée.

While this collection is great fun, the Spring 2009 couture was epic – all in white, cream and black. Indulge.

À bientôt…Tatie

(All couture photos from style.com)

With Marie on my mind Monday, Jul 13 2009 

 

Trianon cheri

Trianon cheri

The story of Marie Antoinette – her world, her demise – fascinated me early on, as I studied French in high school. It was seminal in my lifelong affection for French culture and civilization.

All things Marie Antoinette have captivated creative imaginations lately. Take a look at the recent Somerset/Stampington publication, Marie. I adore the way so many artisans have picked up on the robin’s egg and pale pink of the era.

maison2

We French hand-sewing enthusiasts would call the warm pale blue and pink of the trianon "Giger" pink and blue, after goods made by an old manufacturer of Swiss batiste.

Anyway, looking through Marie, I was inspired to create my Trianon chéri. The original Petit Trianon on the grounds of Versailles is especially fetching.

I began with a papier mâché house box, which I painted with a simple robin’s egg acrylic color, then spattered with brown. For the roof, I started with a base of flat chocolate brown acrylic. Once dry, I applied Tim Holtz’s Crackle Paint in Tattered Rose, which makes me very happy. 

maison5

Torn pieces of Martha Stewart's Flourish paper in palest pink, the edges aged with distressing ink, give a hint of exposed brick or stone.

As a reference to exposed brick or stone, I applied torn pieces of Martha Stewart’s Flourish paper in palest pink. Edges of the paper were aged with Tim Holtz’s Distress Inkpad in Tea Dye.

Next came stamped images in brown from various sources, including the popular Paris set from Cavallini. It’s a lot of fun using an unexpected image as an architectural element.

Particularly whimsical is my treatment of the back of the trianon. I really enjoy working with these houses because the back gives you a full surface, a kind of stage if you have a narrative.

The couture fashion show is my favorite narrative, and for this one, I used stamps, including one from the incomparable Sandra Evertson. Then, I took some old pink and cream plaid twisted paper rope (wish I still had a source for this stuff) and fashioned a skirt, edged with scalloping scissors, and gathered and wrapped with a piece of Martha Stewart’s wonderful coffee bean-edged pink ribbon.

maison4

Wish I could find more of the old cream-and-pink plaid twisted paper rope I used for my mannequin's skirt.

Finishing touch was the tiny paper roses at the front windows. I applied a couple on the side of the house with their wire stems, which gave the look of wild roses climbing up the side of the house. The foliage is model train moss. (I’d like to hear other ideas for foliage – not thrilled with the moss.)

It’s only natural that my first collage house would be a trianon and that it would carry so many Marie Antoinette nuances. I’m thinking my next inspiration will draw from Provence or the European garden folies – or maybe a little of both.

À bientôt…Tatie