I stumbled across Wendy Lewis of The Textile Trunk several years ago on Ebay
while looking for sources of vintage hand-woven, homespun linen and hemp yardage.
I had just found my 19th century French canopy chair here and couldn’t imagine it
reupholstered in anything else. Known as “loodylady” on Ebay, she had a huge variety
of antique and vintage European textiles: primitive linen and hemp grain sacks,
mattress ticking, mangle cloths, French floral and printed fabric, French linen and hemp
sheets, an occasional rough linen chemise, and passementerie trim from all over Europe.
I found and bought this amazing bolt …about four yards of nubby flaxen linen…
with thistle woven in. I washed it, rerolled it, played with it. I couldn’t bear to cut it.
My bolt in above photo and below…similar upholstery yardage here
I always check the “Loodylady” store on Ebay here to see what Wendy’s up to…
All her items are “buy it now”…a stress free way to buy on Ebay…
Amidst all the loveliness there are always a few stand out treasures…
Just a few weeks ago she sold this incredible Ciel de Lit that I had put
a watch on…just to drool over and torture myself.
Ciel de Lit is French for “sky of the bed” and is the basis for a classic
French Lit a la Polonaise. I asked Wendy recently about this piece…she said
that after maneuvering about France with it on her last buying trip, she carried
it home from with her on on the plane rather than wait for it to be shipped…
…the ruckus that it caused to get on board, but well worth it!!!!!!!!!!
Wendy’s responses to a string of off the cuff questions I emailed her the other
day were so lovely, I asked her if I could share them with you…
How often do you go to France, how many years have you been going? I travel to Europe about every 2-3 months. I travel by myself~ It is truly the only way to really source the best of the best! ~ I have to be there myself! ~ We lived in the UK for 12 years and my children were born over there. In the mid 90’s, I was heavily into researching my family history, so my links to family history really tie in well with my passion for textiles…..they are very connected for me. Stories of past lives, people, their experiences…has always been very important to me, and the connection with textiles, is very special. There is so much that these textiles can tell us about the day to day lives of people from the past, one has to just be more open to the detail, in order to really understand what the textiles are telling us. Anyway…living in the UK.. France was on our doorstep! My first experience with these wonderful textiles was in the 90’s. We used to go over to France and rent Gites ( small cottages in the mountains, and countryside) and I came across little pieces now and then in little brocantes……..I didn’t really understand them then……they just spoke to me, loudly! I started to gather small pieces, not really knowing why……..and they mesmerized me. I found some amazing early, printed panels of linen, very early on….. I couldn’t stop thinking about them……they really started this drive to understand textiles……and my research began then. I traveled to Museums in the UK and France regularly to research and understand these amazing pieces of history……..and this is how it all began.
Did you take those shots? Are you into photography? Yes……..I take all of the photographs myself. My passion (before textiles) was and is Photography. I was a photographer using medium format in the 90’s……….I used to photograph children also. And, in a similar way of trying to capture the essence of a child, the same applies to the textiles. I really feel that the textiles have to be understood, in order to really be able to photograph them well……..very similar to photographing children! (although the textiles are usually far better behaved and sit much more still than children!
These are my gardens! ~ like the colors and patterns in the
textiles, they inspire me regularly!
Wendy has over a 1000 items listed in her Ebay store…
How does she have time to tend this gorgeous garden!?
Do you live on the other side of the siding that you photograph your 18th century pelmets against? Do you live in the country…do you have a barn? The photographs of the siding are taken against my barn! ~*~ We live in a 1850’s farmhouse and the barn is just to the side of this! The barn is also c1850 ~ and it is wonderful inside too. We live in town, but it is a small town and the country is right on my doorstep! This is what I love about Vermont, one is never out of the country, no matter where they live! ~*~
What started you off? Was it the linen? The toile? Was this what you thought you’d be doing when you “grew up”? I imagine you must be someone who is very conscious of details…texture, stitches, initials.
I just LOVE that you said this! ~ Yes, I am extremely conscious of details…….again, I feel that THIS is what allows these textiles to speak to us……it is the tiny detail in them that really tell us so much about what was happening in people’s lives………the hand stitches, the hand stitched darns…..the monograms, the fiber content, the dyes used in the printing, the sizes of the garments, the colors, textures, the old hem lines, the fading patterns…..all of these details are what allow the textiles to speak for the people who created them!!! This is what I get so very excited about when I find these textiles. I often sit with them for hours, trying to understand them……looking closely at them, to figure out what they are telling me. There is truly a treasure trove of information in every single piece. I find this extraordinarily exciting. When I was growing up, I always dreamt of becoming an archaeologist, so the connection is obvious! My hands just stay much cleaner exploring textiles ! ( usually!!! )
Antique French wallpaper c. 1800
acquired from a personal collection….
The descriptions of each item are clear, detailed, fascinating….
I can see the archaeologist in Wendy coming out here….
The French campaign to Egypt is referenced in drooping reeds between the
cartouches (frames around the pictures). The style of little pictures stacked
one on top of each other is a reference to wall decoration at Pompeii and
Herculaneum; these excavations began in the middle of the 18th century
and were watched and copied avidly in Western Europe.
to view click here
Antique or vintage French Eiderdown feather quilt
This is an antique French Boutis from 1820
More antique and vintage eiderdown, quilts and boutis here
About this incredible antique photographed sideways on her barn Wendy also told me
“that wonderful tapestry panel was ON MY BACK for HOURS!! I simply HAD to have it!”.
Talk about rough luxe…can you imagine this drapery panel hung simply down a
rough gray wall…or swagged theatrically to the side of an inner doorway…?
This textile once hung in a chateau in central France. It is an ENORMOUS textile,
with the most wonderful hand painted floral design. This textile dates 1850-1870…
The fabric on this textile is a very heavy woven pure linen weft and a natural
cotton warp, plain weave. All of the designs on this textile are hand painted
For more photos click here
Matching pelmet here
Would also be lovely used over a bed with simple
French linen or gauze curtains…
This textile would have been used as part of a bedding set ~ This pelmet is hand quilted and
hand stitched with a thin linen trim that runs along the scallop and all 4 sides~there is a light
cotton batting in between the layers~18th century French Toile de Jouy pelmet here
All Wendy’s red toile on Ebayhere
More red toile inspiration from earlier Toile de Jouy Rouge post here
I love how accommodating you are to your customers, love your color matching service. Thank you Trish!!~ I have to tell you , what is more important to me than anything…….is the great happiness these textiles bring to people. I can’t tell you how amazingly moving I find it, when I receive emails from my customers telling me about the way that the textiles have impacted their lives…..sleeping better under their antique quilts, gifts for friends that are cherished, people often say that they find the textiles healing……and I understand this very much….food for the soul….people find a great deal of comfort in these textiles, and THIS is what keeps me focused every single day…and makes me feel a sense of fulfillment , that I never thought possible. THIS is why I feel like the luckiest person in the entire world…….and feel eternally grateful to all of the people who understand the importance of these textiles, and trust me to help them find the right ones for them!
Thank you Wendy…
I am truly inspired!
All photography except for top two photos were from Wendy Lewis of The Textile Trunk