Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fortuny Fabric Find!

I love decorating, and am always on the hunt for interesting fabric. A few months ago, I had sent a link to my daughter of a room on the Cote de Texas blog, December 18, 2009 entry. Of all the things in the room, my 25 year old commented on the Fortuny blue pillows. I had taken her with me through a showroom in Seattle carrying Fortuny, and it made a lasting impression, as she recognized the pillows in the Cote de Texas photo.

Imagine my delight to stumble across the piece of fabric below at an antique show. This fabric looks like a Fortuny piece of fabric, but isn't signed. Regardless of it's heritage, it's a wonderful piece of fabric. I have a choice of making several pillows out of it, depending on which pattern I use. There is enough for 2 or 4 pillows, depending on the design on the front.

Option #1 This option is really cool, it has the two urns on top, and the wonderful floral swags at the bottom of the pillow.

Option #2. This option is fun, has the feathery look with the tassels at the top, bow in center.

Option #3. This would be the bottom half of the design, with the floral swags and urn being the feature.

The choices are two pillows with option 1, or 4 pillows with options 2 &3. I've decided to place it out here to get some input from you on favorite pattern.

I have made quite a few pillows out of vintage "scrap" ranging from fabric, to embroidery or beadwork. Below is a beautiful pillow made from a piece of 19th century French metallic embroidery. I love the muted faded colors.

Here's a pillow that was a beadwork tray. I chose the brown trims after looking at several different colors and this seemed to work the best with the bright colors. The beading is amazing. It is a Victorian piece, with a bead on every stitch in the canvas. Beadwork was very popular then, and the interesting part about it is that beads don't fade the way threads do, so it is as vibrant as the day it was made.

(You can always right click on the photo, click "view photo", for an enlargement.)

Sometimes I do my own needlepoint for pillows, antique dog needlepoint is hard to find, and I tend to like to keep them in a picture frame--another subject.

I really love the pillow, and made it with the green background that came with the kit. I think I might have chosen a different color if I had to redo it today, the green is a bit limiting to me. However the caramel cover fringe looks really good, the pillow looks better in person. However, fringes really make a pillow fussy, so you have to be careful how you use fringe. My advice is to consider cording, or a cord made out of fabric.

An antique tea cosy makes a great pillow. They were made to cover a porcelain teapot and keep it warm. (I'm always delighted to find phrases that other cultures use that are descriptive. The British keep their tea cosy!) Anyway, the cosy is heavily padded, and I slip a thin pillow inside the cosy. That way you aren't destroying the antique to use it.

It's probably my all time favorite, I love the chickens. The background is needlepoint. It has some discoloration on it. However I did do some "restoration" on it. The grey-green background was completely faded. However, I could see the background original color based on the bright color on the back. So I took some blue-green Rit dye and "painted" the stained, discolored front back to the original color. It's still a much paler color than the original, but the stains were really distracting before and I sticking to the original shade actually really set off the colors and help even out the shade. The front was a panel only, so I converted it back to a cosy. I bought this on Ebay a few years back. I think it looks better as a cosy, don't you?

Here's another cosy.

A great resource for needlepoint pillows is Katha Diddel. I really look for antique reproductions--the downside of antique pillows is that they can be very stained and have odors. Given the age on antique pillows and textiles, the dyes aren't colorfast and are difficult to clean. So there is a real place for reproductions.

I totally love the colors of the background, they really go well in a number of rooms. I have used it on a bed with a grey blue colorway, and with more neutal beiges. The pillow is a reproduction of "Red Boy" by Goya, painted in the 1790's. (Metropolitan Museum of Art if you want to see it) I love putting some red in a room, it really adds alot to a room. I love everything in the pillow, the cats, the bird in the cage, and Red Boy, all dressed up, the colors are wonderful.

Katha Diddel has other great pillows. The one below is typical of Berlinwork, a play on a hunt scene, and this one is rather fun.
The pillow below is a great piece of aubusson. It is actually a handmade piece (the machine made pieces are circa 1850-1900, handmade, earlier)
It was a panel and I turned it into a pillow.

Below is a pillow I picked up at an antique show. The piece is an Elizabethan style needlepoint, made with chenille needlepoint, with very vintage metallic lace, and very old cream velvet. The metallic lace has tarnished with age, and some of the chenille has fallen apart, but the embroidery motifs were outlined with stitching, so the loss doesn't affect the overall design.
It has a down fill, and doesn't have any odors (miraculous). However I am still mulling over how to clean it, as everything must be cleaned.. A trick I use with old textiles is....FREEZE THEM! This kills any moths or critters that might be tagging along. I put it in a large garbage bag to keep moisture out and critters in, and freeze it. Vacuum on removal.

Here's a project I'm also working on. I got some wonderful grey cord to work with,as the edge is frayed and needs to have something sewn to secure it. I was thinking a round pillow, but a square one might stress the needlework less. Isn't it adorable with the swan! While I don't really care for Victorian furniture, other Victorian items are so whimsical and fun, it has to bring a smile. I especially love their fascination with animals.

Lastly, another favorite pillow. I picked it up in a gift shop in the 80's. It looks as good now as I bought it. I figured I can't be all that bad at selecting things--an identical one has been on the "Young and Restless" soap opera set for decades, (Victor Newman's living room). It is made with a fine petit point stitch. Some of these pillows have 1500 stitches per inch!
Here's a scrap I got at my friend's antique shop before she passed away. I remember her coming over and being in shock that she sold such a cute thing, rather than taking it home. I love the dog and the shepherd.
Here's another Ebay purchase, I turned it into a pillow rather than leaving it framed. The frame was too Victorian for me.

I will update the pillow saga when I finish the fabric pillows. I also love fabric pillows, toile. It might be awhile--my sewing machine foot got left at our "ranch", 600 miles away. It will be month before I get back to this.

UPDATE:  April 4, 2012.   A fellow blogger challenged my Fortuny fabric below.  Unfortunately I used the selvage that had the most clear Fortuny stamp on it, but thought I would share a faint one:

I'm not taking apart the pillow, but I would like to point out that one of the big name Fortuny pillow websites had this design in pillows, identified as Fortuny, on their website about the time I had written this blog.  I am not about to take apart my pillow to show the brighter signature.   Should have taken a photo, I know....


  1. I have decided that I like options 2&3.

  2. Hi.....Your panel is lovely but unfortunately I can say without a doubt it isn't Fortuny. It's French by design though and very pretty and will still make some gorgeous pillows!

    1. Dear Acquired Objects,
      Of course I defer to your experience, but after I wrote the blog and was working on the pillows, I found that is stamped Mariano Fortuny on the very edge. It was faint, but it was there, it was a blue ink if I recall correctly. Very odd that someone would forge it. I'll look to see if I kept the selvage, I'll post it.

    2. Note: you can see this pattern on old world pillows as Cherubini