About us

Bonjour !

My name is Isabelle and I live in France. I am proudly petite (154 cm, ie. not quite 5'1"), and enjoy creating clothes that fit my small build, reflect my personality, and conform with my belief in sustainable development. I also love making clothes for my daughter, born in Feb. 2012.

I come from the Northernmost tip of France; I arrived in Paris in 2000 and lived there for most of the next 10 years, with three interruptions to go work and live in the US and England. My work finally led me to settle at the opposite extreme of France from where I was born, in Montpellier - just a few kilometres away from the Mediterranean.

The Kitty behind La Couture
The cat who often steals the show and loves to assist with my sewing projects is called P'tite Mignonne, which may translate into Little Cutie. She was born in January 2003.

P'tite Mignonne is a rescue cat; I adopted her when she was two - a scared, subdued and underfed kitty. She has changed so much from this time onwards - flourishing into the queen of the house, highly charismatic, but also indefatigably cuddly.
I get a lot of questions about her breed. No, she is not a Maine Coon or a Norwegian. It seems her father was Siamese, which explains her stunning colouring - and her being highly talkative and sociable, but also awfully obstinate ;)
P'tite Mignonne trusts me in any situation, which makes her a wonderful traveller - thank goodness, as we've covered quite a few thousands of kilometres together! Together we've lived in Paris, London, Amsterdam, Northern France and now Southern France, not to mention a few holidays. :)

My history with fibre arts
I’ve been attracted to fibre arts for as long as I can remember - I wouldn’t feel whole without some sort of creativity or other. As neither my mother nor my sisters are the creative type, I am completely self-taught in embroidery, sewing and crochet. I used to feel a bit lonely in my crafty endeavours, but the Internet and the friends I made through it changed all this.
I started embroidery when I was about 10 and found a cross-stitch kit for 10 francs (about 2 dollars). I started collecting these kits and making a lot of them as gifts for my relatives. Internet and my finances allowing, my tastes then evolved towards more elaborate designs when I grew older, and especially after I started this blog in 2004. The first few years of my blog document quite a lot of embroidery, although I haven't touched a tapestry needle in quite some time now... I do plan on reviving the stitching flame in the near future. :)

I started sewing in 2004, when I was living in the US. I didn't have a sewing machine, so my first creations (including a dress) are entirely handsewn.
I still remember fondly my trip to Britex Fabrics in San Francisco in the Spring of 2004 - what a revelation that was. My first purchase once I was back in France was a sewing machine - and this is when I started this blog.
My first dress! Entirely sewn by hand. The lilac broadcloth came from Britex Fabrics. I used a vintage pattern that I'd bought on Ebay.

My first and foremost inspiration is my maternal grandmother, who was an amazing professional seamstress - and more generally has been one of my role models in life. I remember being fascinated by the magical process through which she created dresses for my mother, and for our dolls. Mamie was so happy that I took up sewing (though she was too old and poor-sighted by then to teach me), and sewing has been a way to feel closer to her ever since she passed. Thinking of her has also often been an incentive not to skimp on the details and on the finishing touches :)

• My beginnings with crochet are rather recent as they date from November 2009. My job was becoming increasingly demanding and I just didn't have enough energy to focus on sewing projects in my meagre free time. I really missed having a creative outlet, though; I found out that crochet was a great answer as it allowed me to keep on creating in a more restful manner.

• In 2011, a friend from the local knitting/crochet group gave me one of the greatest gifts ever: she taught me how to knit and purl. I had been able to teach myself crochet from books, but not knitting. Knitting has been such a wonderful experience from the start. Plus, I can make absolutely all of my clothes now, including sweaters, cardigans and warm woolen dresses!

I am also passionate about classical music (I sing soprano), ecology, and all things handmade. Besides clothes, I make my own natural haircare, soaps, etc. All this has to come second after a very demanding job, so yes - that does make for a busy life! I wouldn't have it otherwise :)


pinky said...

Nice and exact presentation, but you've forgotten to say that you are a sweet person who cares about her neighbor ( well-known qualiy of people from the North).
And you are definitely gifted in fibre arts !

Thanks to give us inspiration and the desire to begin/continue fibre arts

(I've discovered this expression "fibre arts" with you and I love it !)

Susannah said...

I have only recently discovered your blog, Isabelle, by way of your fabric/fibre arts shopping guide to Paris.

I will be travelling to France next June/July, with my daughter (2 weeks in paris, and 5 days in Nice). Her shopping interests are more for finished clothes, but she is prepared to indulge my passion for fabric. She is most concerned that we need to be tres chic for our visit to Paris, so I was pleased to be able to show her your blog, as evidence that there was at least one french woman who sewed her own clothes and was still tres chic! As a result, she is prepared to allow me to make at least some of my own travel wardrobe!



Anonymous said...

Your blog is a beautiful, beautiful inspiration for my own creative endeavors in the fiber arts! I have learned so much from you. Perhaps if you have time. . .you might write a blog post discussing the making of homemade soaps and haircare? :) I make my own cleaning supplies but haven't ventured into personal care items yet.

Thank you for sharing so much with others of us in the world of the fiber arts!

Shorty said...

What a wonderful blog, and I love your podcast! It sounds like we have a lot in common; same size in height and build, love to sew and crochet and enjoy making ecologically sound choices! So glad I found your site and podcast!

Elizabeth said...

its lovely to here how your start and its lovely to share sewing passion with people around the world

valenaann68 said...

I just came across your blog and I love it! I love that you make your own clothes. I am petite also (5'2") and "petite" pants are always too long. If you don't mind me asking, how did you teach yourself to crochet? Anyway, you have a lovely blog here and I look forward to seeing more of your postings! :)

Felise said...

Hello - I am new to your website.
I have a design business in New Zealand and like you am self taught in sewing. My father is from Guagno in Corsica - so I have my brand as Guagno. I will be travelling to France in July and wondered whether you could steer me to trims and fabric shops - wholesalers preferrably if that's possible. However antique trims would be great as I am developing a lingerie line. Look forward to your help in anticipation.
Kind Regards
Felise du Chateau
Guagno Designs

Unknown said...

Hello Isabelle!

I have been following your blog for about two years now, and I must tell you how much I admire your ability to craft such beautiful things. I am the mother of an almost 10 month old and I have to ask how you find the time to complete your projects? I find it very difficult, however, I am a slow knitter. I have requested to follow you on Instagram. I hope you don't mind!

Thanks! :0)