Monday, September 09, 2013

A Blaze of Glory?

Flame stitch fabric.  Do you love it? Hate it? Fall somewhere in between?  Quite frankly, it has never been one of my favorites.  I think that the problem is that there are flame stitch fabrics that look too old-fashioned or their colors are all wrong, and then there are those that look like they came out of a seedy 1970s interior. 

I'm starting to change my tune, though.  Recently, my cousin Karlyle mentioned to me that she still loves flame stitch.  That comment made me start to reconsider this oldie.  And then, I opened the August issue of British House & Garden, and there was Helen Cormack of Tissus d'Hélène, who had put together a fabric scheme for a fantasy drawing room that included the most beautiful flame stitch by Edmond Petit, "Point d'Hongrie".  Cormack suggested using the fabric on the inside of a wing chair, with a dark green plain linen used for the outside.  How clever!

Now, I know that we are supposed to make decisions for ourselves, but I admit that Cormack's endorsement of this fabric gave it added appeal.  By all accounts, Cormack is the London doyenne of textiles, and her showroom is on my list of places to visit on my next (and hopefully soon) trip to London.  So yes, maybe I was swayed.  But still, I really think that I may further investigate "Point d'Hongrie".  I'm thinking that it might be just the right fabric for my sofa's throw pillows.  The fabric strikes just the right note for my apartment.  It's proper and well-mannered looking, not to mention that it has depth and maturity.  And yet, it isn't dull or, worse, seedy-looking.  This might just be the perfect flame stitch fabric.  Well, to me anyway.

"Point d'Hongrie" from Edmond Petit.

Other examples of flame stitch from the past (of which some are better than others):

A flame stitch vignette at Tiffany & Co., decorated by Inman Cook. c. 1960s.

A Bloomingdale's model room by Barbara d'Arcy.

Flame stitch wallhanging and upholstery in a 17th-century English room.

Flame stitch rugs in the bedroom of Michel Pignère, France, c. 1960s.

Image at top: House & Garden, August 2013; #2 House & Garden Guide to Interior Decoration; #3 House & Garden's Complete Guide to Interior Decoration; #4 Traditional Decorating by John Sutcliffe; #5 Nouvelles reussites de la decoration francaise, 1960-1966.


  1. Hi Jennifer,

    Admittedly, I love a good flamestitch if its in the right colors and if the pattern has a richness and depth to it. I always thought it best being used in small doses but some of the rooms you included with walls and upholstery in flamestitch might have changed my mind. I think the Italians do it best. Just look at some examples of antique Italian flamestitch fabrics. Gorgeous. Lets not forget a good British flamestitch too!



  2. I really like it. In fact, I'm about to re-upholster an early 17th century walnut chair with it. It makes me think 1920's/30's/40's- especially because those 17th and early 18th century styles were more fashionable in the first half of the 20th century. Time for a revival?

  3. Wonderfully rich patterning! I always thought that the flamestitch brought movement and depth to design. Michael has said it very well: I echo his sentiments!

  4. I've had a flamestitch loveseat for almost 30 years. It still looks fabulous. I love the colors and the texture. When my son was in grade school he called it the "Charlie Brown" fabric (you know, the zigzag on Charlie's shirt). Sadly in our new remodel, there will be no place for it and I'll have to find it a new home.

  5. Anything done in the hands of a talented designer can look great!
    This one perhaps is kinda tough....but I'd certainly love to see it done well!

  6. Forty years ago, I found some wonderful flame stitch fabric in a very junky fabric store. It was dirt cheap ($2 @ yd!), and I bought enough to cover two small, non-matching wing chairs with it. It was different than any flame stitch I've ever seen as it was a tone-on-tone peach/cream fabric. It was perfect in my very small, first-house, living room. Hated to take it off when I reupholstered those chairs 20 years later for my daughter's first apartment. That fabric was a gift from God for my living room after I was divorced and had no money!

  7. Sadly I am not a fan of the flamestitch-could not wait to reupholster a couch I did in fs for my own home.

  8. Further to my comment above.....imagine Tom Scheerer, David Netto or even Jeffrey Bilhuber using flamestich...what potentially gorgeous results!

  9. I love it for large knife edged pillows or even for a pair of reupholstered Milo Baughman stools! That would be chic!
    Great post!