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Chez Marcille (in English)



(Cliquer ici pour la version française.)

I am 8 or 9. A well-behaved little girl, dressed in a tartan pleated skirt and a navy blue sweater (hand-knit) contrasted with the round collar of a white blouse, I’m going out to buy ten inches of binding tape to make a belt for my doll, or perhaps tie a ribbon in her hair.
The notions store that’s about two hundred yards from where I live is called « Les Galeries de Neuilly ». But nobody ever calls it that: they just say « Chez Marcille ». I think it’s a nice sounding name for a notions store.
Marcille is the owners’ name. Selling notions has to be a thriving business, it seems, considering it is the livelihood of Monsieur and Madame Marcille — who are old enough to be my grand-parents — and their two daughters, one of whom is a widow who brings up her own three daughters by herself.
The store is long and narrow, with walls covered with rows upon rows of dark wooden drawers. Through the glass lid of the counters, one can see the button-cards, the lace, the ribbons. At the far end of the store, that’s knitting wool territory, where they put the lights on only when a customer wants to buy.
Madame Marcille herself attends to my needs, with a somewhat tender smile full of patience, just as the boulangère when she sells two centimes’ worth of sweets to the kids after school. She treats me a little as if I were her grand-daughter. I would personally prefer to be treated like a grownup.

I am 15. One of the Marcille grand-daughters is in my class. We share the same interest in sewing, but that’s about all.

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French-English Dictionary


French to English dictionary of sewing related terms used in his blog.
To submit terms for inclusion please contact me.

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V

-- A --
agrafes (nf) : hook
aiguille (nf) : needle
aiguillée (nf) : length of thread
ampleur d'aisance (nf) : fullness

-- B --
bande de boutonnage : shirt placket : French front
bati tailleur : tailor's tack
bâtir (verb) : to tack
biais (nm) : bias
biais (ruban) : bias tape
biais gansé (nm) : welt cord
boite à couture (nf) : sewing box
bouton (nm) : button (flat button)
bouton avec pied : shank button
boutonnage sous-patte : shirt placket : fly front
boutonnière (nf) : buttonhole
boutonnière passepoilée : bound buttonhole
braguette (nf) : fly
brassière de naissance (nf) : baby cardigan
bride (nf) : button loop
broderie (nf) : embroidery

-- C --
canette (nf) : bobbin
ceinture avec boucle : belt with buckle
ceinture de jupe : waistband
ceinture nouée : sash
chaine (nf) : warp
chemisette (nf) : shirt (with short sleeves)
ciseaux (nm pl) : shears
ciseaux à cranter (nm pl) : Pinking shears à cranter
coin (nm) : corner
coin avec onglets recto : mitered corner on one side
coin avec onglets recto-verso : mitered corner on both side
col (nm) : collar
col avec pied de col : shirt collar with clollar band
col châle : shawl collar
col claudine : Peter Pan collar
col officier : stand-up collar
col plat : soft collar
col rond ouvert dans le dos : round collar
col tailleur : revers collar
coulisse (nf) : drawstring
coupe (nf) : the cut
coussin (nm) : cushion
coussin à bords gansé : cushion outlined with welt cord
coussin épais : box cushion
coussin simple : simple cushion
coussin traversin : bolster cushion
couture (nf) : seam
couture anglaise : French seam
couture de soutien (nf) : stay stitch
couture fermée (nf) : closed seam
couture ouverte (nf) : open seam (seam allowance pressed open)
couture rabattue : Flat felled seam
cranter (verb) : to clip
croquet : rickrack braid (GB), rickrack(US)

-- D --
(nm) : thimble
décolleté (adj) : low neckline
découdre (verb) : to unstitch
doublure (nf) : lining
dosseret (nm) : headboard
dosseret tapissier : upholstered headbord
drap housse (nm) : fitted sheet

-- E --
emmanchure (nf) : armscye
empiècement (nm) : yoke
encolure en V : V-neck collar
endroit (nm) : right side
envers (nm) : wrong side
épingle (nf) : pins
extrafort (nm) : binding tape

-- F --
faux ourlet : false hem
fente (nf) : slit
fente capucin : bound slit
fermeture Eclair (nf) : zipper
fil (nf) : thread
fronce (nf) : gathering

-- G --
ganser (verb) : to trim with braid
gigoteuse (nf) : sleeping bag
gilet (nm) : cardigan
gilet sans manche : waistcoat
griffes d'entrainement (nf pl) : feed dog
gros-grain (nm) : grosgrain
guimpe (nf) : blouse

-- H --
housse de couette (nf) : duvet cover

-- I --

-- J --
jupe (nf) : skirt
jupe trapèze (nf) : A-line skirt

-- K --
kimono (nm) : kimono

-- L --
lisière (nf) : selvedge

-- M --
machine à coudre (nf) : sewing machine
manche (nf) : sleeve
manche ballon : puff sleeve
manche raglan : raglan sleeve
mesures (nf pl) : measures
molleton (nm) : fleece
monter les manches : to set in sleeves
mou (tissu mou) (adj.) : limp (limp fabric)
moufle (nf) : mitten

-- N --
nappe (nf) : table cloth

-- O --
ourlet (nm) : hem
ourlet roulotté : rolled hem

-- P --
pantalon (nm) : trousers, pants
parement (nm) : facing
passant de ceinture : belt loop
patron (nm) : pattern
pattemouille (nf) : damp cloth
perroquet (nm, drawing instrument) : French curve
pied de biche (nm) : pressing foot
pince (nf) : dart
pistolet (nm, drawing instrument) : French curve
pli (nm) : pleat
pli creux : box pleat (h)
pli couché : flat pleat
pli nervure : pin-tuck
pli plat, pli creux : pleat inverted, folded outward
plis religieuse : horizontal tuck
poche appliquée : patch pocket
poche de côté de pantalon : side pocket
poche passepoilée : bound or welt pocket
poche revers vers le haut : slash pocket or breast welt pocket
poignet de chemise : shirt cuff
poignet mousquetaire : French cuff
point (nm) : stitch
point arrière : back stitch
point bati : tacking, basting stitch
point d'épine : feather stitch
point d'ourlet : hem stitch
point de bourdon : overcast stitch
point de boutonnière : buttonhole stitch
point de chaînette : chain stitch
point de chausson : herring stitch
point de croix : cross-stitch
point de feston : blanket stitch
point de palestrina : palestrina stitch, double knot stitch
point de piqûre : straight sticht
point de surjet : oversewing stitch
point de tige : stem stitch
point droit : running stitch
point glissé : fell stitch
point passé plat : satin stitch
pression (nf) : press stud (GB), snap fastener(US)
pull (nm) : pullover

-- Q --

-- R --
rapiécer : to patch
remailler : to mend a ladder
renfort de coude (nm) : elbow patch
repasser (verb) : to iron
repriser (une chaussette) : to darn (a sock)
revers (ourlet de pantalon, manche) : turn-up, cuff
rideau (nm) : curtain
robe chasuble (nf) : pinafore dress
roulette à patron (nf) : tracing wheel

-- S --
sac (nm) : bag
salopette (nf) : dungarees, overalls
sans manche : sleeveless
set de table (nm) : table mat
smocks (nm pl) : smocking
sommier (nm) : bed base
sous-taie (nf) : pillow protector
surfiler (verb) : to overcast, to oversew
surjeteuse (nf) : serger
surpiqûre (nf) : top stitch

-- T --
taie d'oreiller (nf) : pillow case
talonnette (nf) : hem binding
tissu (nm) : material, fabric
trame (nf) : weft
tricot (nm) : knitting
triplure (nf) : interlining
trousse de couture : sewing case

-- U --

-- V --
voilage (nm) : net curtain
volant (nm) : frill, flounce, ruffle

November the 11th 2010 : Armistice Day



The cemetary, Etaples (Pas-de-Calais), John Lavery, 1919. Imperial War Museum, London

(Cliquer ici pour la version française).

The little girl of All Saints' Day was 7 years old when the Armistice was signed.
Her mother had made a little French flag for her. When the English soldiers walked into the little town where she lived in the north of France, she went with her flag to look at them. They were exhausted and covered with mud, but they were victorious and the population acclaimed them.

In the following days, she and her friends would go to the English encampment, where the soldiers would give them slices of bread, whiter than they had ever seen, and orange marmalade.
Their mothers did not want them to go, but they did all the same.

November the 1rst 2010: All Saints' Day



Chrysanthèmes, Claude Monet, 1897-99, private collection.

(Cliquer ici pour la version française).

My mother-in-law says that when she was 7 or 8 (in 1918-1919), she thought that the graveyard of her village was very attractive just after All Saints' Day, when there were lots of flowers on the tombs. But she felt sad for those that remained flowerless. So she would take bunches from the most decorated ones and put them on those that were bare.
You have to imagine a little girl with her navy-blue coat and buttoned boots, her long curly blonde hair under a round hat, going from one tomb to the other to bring justice to the dead.

Vintage Fashion



Yesterday, I've discovered a website that brightened my day, and yet it was one of those winter days, grey and cold, when you wonder if the sun has not forgotten us.
This site,, is dedicated to vintage fashion from the 1920s to the 1950s.
Elise is fascinated by this period. She has lots of French and English documentation. You can see (and read) on her website magazine covers, book extracts, photographs of clothes, hats, gloves and handbags.
She even made some models herself.
I was moved by l'Echo de la Mode which my mother used to read when I was a child and I laughed aloud when I saw some of the advertisements.

Apart from the artistic interest of the site, the pages taken from Pigier textbooks (Pigier is a well-known technical school in France) are very interesting : they explain how to draw various patterns, such as all sorts of sleeves
Several parts of Elise website are translated into English.
I hope you'll enjoy it and if you do, sign the guestbook !


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