Petal & Pins

Category: Paris

Renegade Luxe

Jean Paul Gaultier catalogue prêt-à-porter S/S 08Some fashion collections stay with you long after the season has past and the designer has presented others.

It could be the silhouette, the fabrics or the combination of colours – which is what it was for me with Jean Paul Gaultier’s prêt-à-porter Pirate Collection from Spring/Summer 2008.

We were in Paris that Spring and went to the Gaultier boutique on avenue George V.
I lingered at the pieces that caught my eye to drink in the details and gently run my fingers over the cloth. Khaki, brown and olive green in plains, stripes and camouflage prints were given a touch of renegade luxe with the combinations of fabrics and embellishments.

This summer, while looking out my sunroom window down onto the plum tree and the ripening elderberries that memory was stirred by the similarity in colours and contrasting textures.

I pulled out the catalogue brought back from Paris to revisit the collection and was also inspired to design some plum leaf and elderberry dresses for my Garden Fairy’s Wardrobe.

plum tree foliageelderberriesinspiration from Jean Paul Gaultier's prêt-à-porter collection S/S 2008petal & pins Garden Fairy's Wardrobe dress

fleurs en papier

fleur en papier

I was going to photograph my Spring garden today but it’s raining.

Instead I ‘m sharing with you my ‘Paris Flowers’ that I made earlier in the year.

I called them this  inspired by the combination of soft pink  wash I painted on the paper and black satin ribbon bows that form the sepals.

Paper flower making  seems to be having a ‘moment’ by the stream of gorgeous ones appearing in my instagram feed lately.

There are some exquisite ones by artists making them from crepe paper, special crepe paper mind you not the flimsy bright coloured stuff of kindergarten craft memories.

I think though my métier is for using real flowers for my garden fairy dresses so my fabric scissors are safe from being given over to paper anytime soon.

fleurs en papier #2

Butterfly Wings & Other Things

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

I have been wanting to do a post about butterflies for a while now.

Ideas and inspiration swirled around gathered momentum and somehow got away from me – just like a butterfly flitting, just beyond reach.

There are silk butterflies from Paris pinned on my notice board that were given to me several years ago. Occasionally I ‘release’ them from the cellophane bag to contemplate a myriad of possibilities.

The teacups I bought for my serendipitous friend and I are adorned with flowers and butterflies.

I stumbled on this quote –

‘Happiness is a butterfly which, when pursued,is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you’

And I photographed some real ones in my garden.

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

One summer many moons ago my cousin was given a butterfly net. I don’t remember catching any when my sister and I trailed along but I do remember the ones he’d already caught pinned and displayed.

Years later, visiting a National Trust house in Sydney I was mesmerized by a picture of a floral arrangement which was created out of butterfly wings on black velvet.

I wouldn’t advocate butterfly collecting now and I feel very lucky they visit my garden and simply delight in the random moments when I get to observe one.

I reminded my cousin of his butterfly net and it elicited a smile – he’d completely forgotten about it. The hobby I suspect only lasting one summer. We pondered whether there are less butterflies about these days and I said I thought we are less inclined to stop and notice such things as adults.

Soon after that conversation I heard a fascinating interview with a butterfly farmer on the radio.

And then butterflies seemed to be everywhere – from Jean Paul Gaultier’s Spring 2014 Haute Couture collection shown last January, ‘ Miranda Kerr for Royal Albert‘ tea sets, to fabric prints and an invitation to a birthday party.

I decided it was time to finally do my butterfly post before the moment escaped again.

Spring is tantalisingly close in Tasmania so picking from some of the early arrivals I made a flower arrangement inside my teacup and set the silk butterflies free.

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

Are there butterflies in your garden?

Parisienne Opticien

Two years ago in Paris I bought myself some lafont sunglasses.

The sales assistant popped my details in their database (one is allowed to at least dream of getting back one day).

Since then a lovely surprise has continued to drop into my letterbox.
Seasonly inspired postcards from Paris – marketing yes but also a lovely reminder of my holiday!

Lafont postcard 2013

I love the illustrations and another just arrived today. The stamp is pretty too.

Lafont postcard

french postage stamp

The lafont postcard will find a home in one of my empty macaron boxes along with the others and my elf.

Yes you read correctly – my very own elf! – it too arrived in my letterbox.

Read about it here.

Minarets & Lion’s Tail


© Sandra Alcorn 2014

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

This morning I wandered into the garden to choose some flowers for ‘In a Vase on Monday’.

Some of the things I picked for this arrangement are Kahili Ginger Hedychium gardnerianum, Lion’s Tail Leonotis leonurus, Iris foetiidissima seed pods and Bergenia leaves.

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

The dark chocolaty brown leaves are from a bush that perhaps someone can identify for me – I don’t think it’s a particularly attractive bush – but I must say it is very effective in a vase.

When I was picking the lion’s tail I liked the stems with just the sculptural trio of green ‘balls’ as much as the ones with the burst of orange petals. In writing this post I discovered they are also referred to as ‘minaret flowers’ which is easy to see why.

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

The still life was arranged on my lounge room mantelpiece and includes some of my vintage wooden cotton reels, the petite shoes bought on my last day in Paris and several volumes of the New Harmsworth Self-Educator that belonged to my grandfather.

It was published circa 1913 and there are some interesting and eclectic topics. Since my blog is called Petal & Pins I found something with a ‘pin’ theme to share with you.

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

© Sandra Alcorn 2014

‘In A Vase On Monday’ was started by Cathy from Rambling In The Garden – take a look at hers and perhaps one Monday you might like to share yours!

April In Paris

peonies on a flower stall in le Marais

© Sandra Alcorn 2008

© Sandra Alcorn 2008

© Sandra Alcorn 2008

As an antidote to waking up to it pouring with rain I’m listening to Count Basie & His Orchestra – April In Paris – and reminiscing about strolling around “La Ville-Lumiére”.


A Pansy Gown & Velvet Petals

© Sandra Alcorn 2013

© Sandra Alcorn 2013

I have made several attempts to establish a pansy patch in my garden. Finding a spot that gets enough sun but doesn’t attract my dog to sit on it has been the challenge and finally I seem to have succeeded, planting them around the foot of my dogwood tree and getting more than enough to pick some for my Garden Fairy’s Wardrobe.

I particularly love the rich purple and burgundy ones – the petals look so velvety.

My earliest memory of pansies is actually of a small bunch of faux ones made of velvet that my sister and I played with at my grandmothers house. I am not sure if they originally adorned a lapel or the waistline of a dress or of what vintage they would have been.

From La Droguerie on rue du Jour in Paris I bought these gorgeous flowers they’re not really pansies but they did remind me of that vintage posy I was so fond of as a child.

© Sandra Alcorn 2013

© Sandra Alcorn 2013

Montmartre Memento


I have just made a shirt for Mr Petal & Pins from fabric bought on last years trip to Paris.
He has several shirts made from fabric bought on our travels – they make a great memento and back home when I start cutting the cloth i’m taken back to that place and time.

The ‘Paris’ shirt is in a pure cotton from Tissus Reine in Montmartre
and the print reminds me of the tin paint boxes I had as a child.


The colours remind me of Chagall’s painting on the Palais Garnier ceiling.


I’ll enjoy seeing Mr Petal & Pins wearing the ‘Paris’ shirt and reminiscing about strolling around Montmartre stopping for lunch at Le Gascon and drinks at our (temporary) local – Le Refuge.


I also bought these Eiffel Tower scissors – aren’t they cute!


Peonies and Chinese Dragons

© Sandra Alcorn 2012

© Sandra Alcorn 2012

The other Sunday morning there was a stall at the local farmers market laden with bunches of peonies in an assortment of colours and it reminded me of the flower stalls I photographed in the Marais on a trip to Paris.

Several varieties grow in my  garden including a white with just a hint of pink towards the centre of the blooms and a rich crimson red one which this year produced enough flowers to fill a vase. After some unusually hot days the cut flowers started to dry out emphasising the jagged edges of the petals. I almost threw them out, but thought of Faded Glamour so I decided to create a garden fairy’s dress for the festive season.

It was suggested to me that it evokes a chinese dragon – what do you think?

Ode To Chanel

© Sandra Alcorn 2012

© Sandra Alcorn 2012

© Sandra Alcorn 2012

© Sandra Alcorn 2012

© Sandra Alcorn 2012

© Sandra Alcorn 2012


Coco Chanel’s signature flower was the camellia.  Friends generously offered up a basketful of blooms from their garden. Merci beaucoup David et Margot!

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