Literary crafter of the month: Mme Hermelin

Yikes - it has been nearly a month since I last posted, and several months since I posted a literary knitter/crafter. However, I started reading a new book last night and on the first page I found a literary crafter, so I'm taking this as a sign to get back to the blog.

Her she is, Mme Hermelin, literary crafter for April.

'On this sixteenth day of May 1942, Mme Hermelin was wearing a new dress. It was made from an offcut of mattress ticking, long considered unsuitable for any other purpose, following the last renewal of her bedding. But after three years of war, in a moment of creative inspiration, it struck her that the blue and grey striped cotton was actually quite attractive, and with typical decisiveness she immediately had a dress made. The result was indeed strikingly novel, while suitably understatedas became a lady of her standing.'

Mme Hermelin in Welcome to the Free Zone by Nathalie & Ladislas Gara, translated by Bill Reed.

The book is set in a small village in Saint-Boniface in the Ardeche during the Second World War, and is 'a lightly fictionalized tale, based on the true story of Jewish refugees, the authors ... echo their experiences of trying to lie low in Nazi-dominated France. As I only started reading it last night I can't say a huge amount about the book, except I'm enjoying it so far and you should read it. You'll have to forgive the plug, but the translator is a friend :-)

I think there a several things I need to take from this quote; 'creative inspiration' and 'typical decisiveness' in my sewing, with the aim of a look that is 'strikingly novel, while suitably understated'.


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  2. A good example of "Fashion on the ration". I'm sure you will enjoy the book.

  3. I've often tried to imagine this dress. I actually have rather a soft spot for mattress ticking. The French types are more varied in colour and stripe-width than those I remember in the UK. It's tough and dirt cheap and I have used it for backing big cushions, even for curtains.
    Enjoy the book!

    1. I completely agree about the mattress ticking, and have also been trying to visualise the dress. I can definitely see I nice striped summer dress in blue and grey - maybe a little sewing project for later in the year :-)


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