Not $ewing in Geneva

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I know what you are thinking: what? more traveling?  Well, my husband Dave is a scientist who studies genetic toxicology and was asked by the World Health Organization to come and work on a committee to discuss some chemicals and they would pay his way.  And I could go and stay for free, and fly using frequent flier miles, so why not?  I thought it would be like Lisbon, where I’d find cute shops selling fun sewing stuff, and when we walked by Mercerie Catherine B (above) on Saturday afternoon, I could hardly wait to go back and explore.GenevaSewing4

First, we had Mother’s Day and when we went to church, they handed out roses and pieces of chocolate to all the Moms.  Score!  That was sweet, even if everything they said was in French.GenevaSewing5

And we had to go and see one of the two tourist attractions in Geneva.  Which I did. . . multiple times.GenevaSewing6

I did scout out a few textile shops.  This one was right across from the Manor department store, but because Geneva is a waaaaay pricey city, I chose not to drop my Swiss francs in that shop.GenevaSewing7

Instead, I thought this a better investment, until I could back to Catherine’s, which was closed until Tuesday (4-day weekend).GenevaSewing8I went out to this place, which was a long tram ride out of the center.GenevaSewing8a GenevaSewing9

Yes, that is five bucks for a fat-meter of outdated material.  The Liberty cottons were 35 bucks a meter.GenevaSewing10

And regular quilting cottons were around 20 dollars a meter (the franc is nearly equivalent to a dollar this year).GenevaSewing11

The Manor Dept. Store (my home away from home, because I ate there a lot–picking up sandwiches and meals in their food hall. . . and why doesn’t America have food halls?) had this array of fat meters.  I didn’t check the prices on them.GenevaSewing12

While standing admiring this display of bias tape and ribbons — wound neatly onto cards and not tucked behind cellophane wrappers — I met Roxanne, another quilter, and we had a great discussion.  Quilters, the world over, speak the same language.  She said most of the quilters she knew in Switzerland ordered their fabrics online.GenevaSewing13

I did have fun noticing the European-style fashions in the windows.  I think style this would make a great dress for summer.GenevaSewing14

Check out the knees of this pair of jeans–little kitty faces!
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So back to my story.  When Catherine’s opened up, I went up there, expecting to buy something, but everything was incredibly expensive.  GenevaSewing16

I did find this small needle minder that I loved, but they were out of the matryoshka kit.  Good thing, because the house kit was 65 dollars for a square of linen, a pattern and the threads.  Yes.  SIXTY-FIVE. GenevaSewing17

I took a photo of the pattern company who designed that matryoshka kit: Un Chat dans l’aiguille and had fun looking around their website, following some links, which led to more links, and which led me to discover that I’d been doing some of my tried-and-true stitches incorrectly, proving there is always more to learn, at any age.  Here’s a link to some of my favorite series of videos in French, and even though it’s not a language I speak, the videos say it all.  And some great English videos by Mary Corbet are here.  So I left that day empty-handed, but full of admiration for the traditional embroideries found in Europe.GenevaSewing18

I even went back another day, when I bought half-meters of three different Christmasy looking braids, which I’ll put on the back with my label of the Oh Christmas Quilt (more motivation to finish it!).  I still couldn’t bring myself to buy much more than that.  And I just looked and admired and loved everything I saw.

I peeked in on the class they were holding, and every woman in there had a portable light, a stand with a hoop for her embroidery and an attached magnifying glass for working those teeny counted cross stitches over fine linen.  It really was quite inspiring, and made me think of ways to incorporate more hand stitching into quilting designs.  I have a few ideas and will let them percolate, as is my usual after taking in the sights and colors of different places.GenevaSewing19

But check out what I saw at the flea market on Saturday, the last day before we came home: a Bernina sewing machine.  It ran, of course, on 220 voltage and besides that my luggage was already full, but wouldn’t that have been a great souvenir!

12 thoughts on “Not $ewing in Geneva

  1. Oh, now I am really jealous of all your travels! You always make it sound so fun. And having “toured” locally in OR with you, I know how well you interact with locals and shop owners. Thank you so much for sharing your adventures, and letting those of us who don’t/can’t travel all these places enjoy your POV!

  2. It’s always lovely to hear about your travels in such detail. Your conversational tone makes me feel like I was there with you! Must check out your links to the stitching videos. I’m sure I don’t stitch certain stitches correctly, but just use my version. As you say, there is always something new to learn.

  3. So glad for you to have the opportunity to travel to Geneva. I have been there myself, and my dear quilt-y friend also lives in Switzerland, but on the east side/German-speaking side of the country, near Zurich. Switzerland is a beautiful country, for sure, but definitely expensive. I didn’t come home with much from my visits there either. Yarn seemed to be about the nicest thing to buy, if you’re into knitting as many Swiss are. It’s good to see the country from your point of view. I’m glad you had a good time!

  4. My husband and I were in Northern Italy last month. We found fabric shops that were beautiful, had the most gorgeous textiles I have seen and they were so expensive I can’t imagine who buys them. Did I mention that the shops were also empty?

  5. Hi Elizabeth! I’m the lady you visited with in Manor! It was fun to meet you and chat in the store. It’s a lovely world, this quilting world, isn’t it? If you come back to Geneva, let me know–would love to meet for coffee.

  6. I would expect the Swiss to have perfected embroidery, much as they did the wristwatch. They are finicky about their details, aren’t they? Yikes! to all those prices, and thank goodness at least the chocolate was in your price range!

  7. Welcome to Sweden! It’s like that here too. Every time the US Postal srvice hikes up the international postage rates, or VAT (value added tax) is added to a digital pattern or class, I want to sit down and cry! I had aimed to try to at least supplement my quilting expenses by developing patterns to sell, but all these pointed additional costs really discourage me.

  8. Thank you Elizabeth for taking us on your Geneva trip. It is on my bucket list. Now I will know to save my sewing dollars for other European and/or UK cities. How difficult that must be for sewers to have to pay those prices. Regards, JIll

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