flea market report (french edition) and a glorious chunk of nothing

In the corner of a sweltering hot barn jammed with mountains of dusty ancient things there was a little box of crumpled tissue. First a little silver fork pokes out. Then a tiny china lid that might belong to a teapot.

box of antique miniatures found in france

A shell thin glass vase that is somehow not broken is floating in the tissue too. I stop looking because I already know I need it and the rest should be discovered slowly and savored, each thing emerging. A tiny sterling candlestick and then unbelievably it’s mate, miniature binoculars, and the lid does belong to a teapot, the little set is complete and even has a platter. Old and wonderful. Everything about it is magic and sweet and melancholy and lonesome.

daily painting in a french chateau

Vacations are not my thing. And technically this is not a vacation, I am in France to teach workshops with French General. I brought lots of projects to work on too, things to sew, writing projects, all sorts of fun things. But I did nothing. Almost nothing. My brain refused to participate. I did more of nothing than I ever have in my life. 3 weeks of nothing. Plus it was 105 degrees, making nothing the only reasonable choice anyway.

cherrie tree in the south of france

Glorious nothing, swimming and cherries from a tree for breakfast, loads of coffee and wine, fantastic cheese and bread. Feeling supremely happy wandering brocantes and vide greniers eating a jambon beurre and finding treasures. Mostly things for making things. Loads of that. And Edwardian garments and antique paper for the October workshops in LA.

antique textiles and paper found in france

lace scraps

Checkout some highlights from the France workshops and wanderings below. And if you’d like to spend time with me in France next summer signups will be open soon. Send me a message with France 2020 as the subject if you’d like more info.

needle book workshop in france

ps – have you made a needle book?  Find the tutorial here. The exquisite book above was made here in the workshop by Petra.

antique fabric scrap bundles

textile seed pods

I’m headed home tomorrow and I felt my brain come back on line today. Sad to go but ready to work and think and experiment. Ready to dive into the busyness of finishing sewing patterns, preparing for the next 3 workshops and something special for September involving old paper and the forest.

tiny rag doll picnic

And Summer is for making tiny dolls and outfitting the little ladies with summer hats and dresses and miss matched china for lawn picnics. I’ve put the miss thistle society patterns and tutorials all in one place for you and  I’d love to see what you make – use #annwoodpattern and #missthistlesociety on instagram.


  1. It does sound like a fun vacation! I love your “finds!” I have a set of miniatures from my grandmother – 2 brass candlesticks, about an inch tall, 2 brass “oil lamps” and a matching lamp with lampshade. I have NO idea where or when she got them – they were always just in her amazing little curio cabinet and I always played with them when I visited her – a cousin saved them for me when she passed away. Why did I never ask? She passed away in 1982 at the age of 96.

  2. Laura Maclay

    I don’t know who’s more adorable–you or that pig! I see a similarity in the expressions,though!

  3. Yvonne McDonald

    Deeply, deeply envious of your teeny tiny finds, they are beautiful. Have always had a fascination for teeny things. I think it comes from never having been exactly dainty myself so I love things that are! Certainly when it’s that hot, the only thing to do is try to keep cool, anything else is impossible! Be good to remember when you’re back in New York in the snow!

  4. I am so excited for your tiny finds!!! I will be watching for them in the pictures you send of your lovely dolls; they look just the right size for them and that teensy dining set and piano looks like a toy set for the dolls. Even dolls should get to play, right?

  5. Sounds like your sojourn to France, with the exception of your workshop, was a delightful succession of ‘busy nothing’s,’ to mangle a bit of Jane Austen. Welcome home!

  6. I really look forward to your blogs and I love those flowers; I thought at first that they were made with sweet wrappers! Your brocante finds are fabulous! Something special about French flea markets for sure.

  7. Linda Rael

    I would love to come to France, and the flea market.You tiny treasures are precious!

  8. I enjoyed reading about your trip. I was right there with you rustling through that tissue paper. I hope to see your finds surfacing again. I will look for them in upcoming photos on your blog.

    I absolutely adore that last photo. The setting, the sweet doll and her chic dress and hat, the dishes all add up to utter perfection.

    I happened on your sale yesterday when grabbing the tiny rag doll URL to share once again. I had resolved that I wouldn’t buy any more patterns until I make up Mr. Socks whose pattern is languishing in wait of the perfect fabric. So much for resolutions. Before I quite knew what was happening, I was ironing a tiny piece of fabric saved from a thrifted blouse and pinning the wrap top pattern to it. I love how it fits and looks on my doll. Thank you for another awesome pattern. I can’t wait to try the dress.

  9. Sharol Grant

    Love your tiny treasures and pictures. I felt like I was there for a moment…exploring for finds and special fabrics.

  10. There is nothing more fascinating that exploring flea markets around the world, congratulations on finding all your necessities for creating more lovely things.

  11. What a beautiful find, that box of miniature treasures!!! As I read your post, I sensed that that box was just waiting for YOU to discover it! Lucky you!!!

  12. Jane Rhoades

    Where in France so you hold your workshops? Are you housed in a chateau? I only ask because I spent a wonderful few weeks in Auty, and would love to go back.

  13. Always so excited to see an email from you, I look at it then close it for later when I can read it uninterrupted, I so wanted to be in France, looking for treasures, I loved the way you state you needed the box of minuatures you found rather than saying you wanted them, which goes without saying, really wonderful finds, so glad you had a good time.

  14. Oh my goodness, everything about your post is filled with joy and excitement – even if it’s mostly about ‘nothing’. What a dream find – a box full of treasures like that is a once in a lifetime find. I can understand your reluctance to undo the tissue paper quickly. Savouring every moment. I do love France – for all the same things you mention. And you’ve reminded me I need to make some seed heads …. Thank you for sharing your adventures x

  15. It seems those items laid in wait for you to find them! So perfect.

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  17. Betty Wennerberg.

    You are my Victoria Magazine. Thank you for sharing your exciting new adventures. Love you expression of old remnants turned treasures. Your words are uniquely phrased into a magical imaginary world ,and then rearranged into a tangible lovely creation. Thank you for your creativity and sharing.

  18. Hadass Rubin

    Love all your stories and crafts. I tried making the little plates and cups during the Covid isolation and loved it. Thank you for sharing so much of your time.

  19. I love your “finds” and want to know about your French General workshops. I bought a stack of French general fat quarters and want to make a quilt. Haven’t found the right pattern yet.

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