Sajou lace thread - boxed set of Dentelle au ChinoisOh, what a selection of colourful, beautiful things I have for you today.  But first, a question. What is your favourite kind of shop?

For myself, it’s a toss up between a great art supplies shop or an old-school haberdashery emporium.  Both have loads of colour and texture along with intricate displays of beautiful products.  Today, as you can see from the title, haberdashery has won my heart.

Sajou Haberdashery Needle Sets for sewing ribbonI came across the French haberdashery Sajou via Etsy (which, I recently discovered, is a fantastic source of creative supplies as well as finished handmade products).  I was searching for coloured linen threads to make my Japanese stab-bound books and a new range of contemporary notebooks.

My first happy find was an Etsy shop selling linen threads in small quantities – buying them as a whole spool is incredibly expensive.  After trying various linen threads I settled on Fil au Chinois Lin Câblé as the best for my needs.  It’s used widely in the sewing of leather goods as well as for bookbinding and is, apparently, the choice of some of the top luxury brands (including Hermes) to stitch their handbags.

Japanese Stab Binding on Sketchbook/Journal by Aqua Handmade BooksHere it is used on one of my handmade sketchbooks.

Of course, one discovery on Etsy leads to another and before long I’d stumbled upon the extraordinary Maison Sajou, whose products are sold by the UK Etsy shop Penelope Textiles.  Based in Scotland, the shop sells antique and vintage textiles as well as Sajou haberdashery items.

Embroidery scissors by Sajou in decorative presentation boxI learned that Sajou is a long-established French haberdashery brand which, along with all kinds of specialist Fil au Chinois threads, also sells about a zillion other beautifully packaged haberdashery items as well.

Here’s some background, taken from Penelope Textiles:

Sajou was created in 1828 by Jaques- Simon Sajou, selling haberdashery for embroidery, tapestry, lace, crochet and weaving. His pattern albums are sought after to this day by collectors worldwide.

In 2005 the Sajou brand was purchased and revived by avid collector; Frederique Crestin- Billet. Many of the old designs have been faithfully reproduced and there are some new designs that have been added in the Sajou style.

Sajou produce haberdashery items made in France to the highest standards (in some cases even produced on the original old machinery). Perfect for gifts and collectors, and for those of you unable to resist a quality that is seldom found in today’s mass produced haberdashery products.

Sajou Lace Thread - Cream Fil Dentelle I also discovered another connection between Maison Sajou and Fil au Chinois, both of which are French companies dating back to the 1800’s.  Like Sajou, Fil au Chinois has also been revived in recent years through the work of dedicated people who didn’t want to see the history, tradition and craftsmanship of these heritage brands die out.

For example, Fil au Chinois Lin Câblé literally means “cabled” linen, as it’s produced by three individually twisted threads then being twisted together a second time to form its distinctive cable, or corded, structure.  The thread is also waxed, by passing it through a starch bath containing beeswax.  To finish, it’s then brushed with horse hair and stretched.

This intricate process and attention to details creates an incredibly strong but also very luxurious thread.  (I can confirm that’s an absolute joy to work with).  It’s waxed – but as the wax is absorbed into the thread’s structure, not at all sticky – and it comes in delicious colours that always make me smile.  It also has a subtle but luxurious lustre to it and produces brilliant stitch definition.

So it makes me very happy to know that a long tradition of craftsmanship has been rescued and that the business is flourishing.  (If you’re interested, you can read more of the story on the Fil au Chinois website here:

I could go on and on, but I think that’s enough haberdashery geekery for one article!   I’ll leave you with just a very small glimpse of some of the beautiful Sajou products sold by Penelope Textiles.  At the end of the piece I’ve also added a link to the French website for Sajou in case you’d like to learn more about their history too.

Sajou thread winding cards with butterfly motits

Sajou thread cards with vintage style printsOne of my happiest new finds are these colourful card winders, like the ones above and below.  They’re sold as blanks, or with thread wound on to them, as a way to buy small quantities of thread rather than a full spool.

I think they’d make the most fabulous Christmas decorations, either hung on the tree or strung on ribbons as garlands.  And there are dozens of gorgeous designs to choose from.

Colourful Sajou thread cards with vintage style printsMixed designs of Sajou thread cards with vintage style prints

Sajou haberdashery - mixed sewing threadsSajou haberdashery sewing kit in presentation boxSajou embroidery scissors in Eiffel Tower shape with decorative tassselsSajou haberdashery set of buttonsSajou Fils au Chinois lace thread full set in presentation box

Many thanks to Penny at Penelope Textiles for kind permission to use her very beautiful photographs

Maison Sajou:

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