Friday, January 25, 2019

Literary Sewing Circle: The Painted Girls

It's time for our first Literary Sewing Circle of 2019! I'm really thrilled to have both a wonderful Canadian book as our featured read, and new this edition, we have 3 amazing sponsors too!

I'm happy to announce that our group read for this round of the Literary Sewing Circle is

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan


Paris. 1878. Following their father’s sudden death, the van Goethem sisters find their lives upended. Without his wages, and with the small amount their laundress mother earns disappearing into the absinthe bottle, eviction from their lodgings seems imminent. With few options for work, Marie is dispatched to the Paris Opéra, where for a scant seventy francs a month, she will be trained to enter the famous ballet. Her older sister, Antoinette, finds work — and the love of a dangerous young man — as an extra in a stage adaptation of Émile Zola’s naturalist masterpiece L’Assommoir.

Marie throws herself into dance and is soon modelling in the studio of Edgar Degas, where her image will forever be immortalized as Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. Antoinette, meanwhile, descends lower and lower in society, and must make the choice between a life of honest labor and the more profitable avenues open to a young woman of the Parisian demimonde—that is, unless her love affair derails her completely.

(from Goodreads)

photo credit: Heather Pollock

About Cathy:

Cathy Marie Buchanan’s The Painted Girls is a #1 National Bestseller in Canada, a New York Times bestseller, and an NPR, Good Housekeeping and Goodreads Best Book of 2013. Her debut novel, The Day the Falls Stood Still, is a New York Times bestseller and a Barnes & Noble Recommends selection.

Her stories have appeared in many of Canada’s most respected literary journals, and she has received awards from the Toronto Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts. She holds a BSc (Honours Biochemistry) and an MBA from Western University. Born and raised in Niagara Falls, Ontario, she now resides in Toronto.

You can find out more about her at her website, 

This book is available for purchase in both hard copy and ebook formats, as well as in audiobook format. 

You can find the ebook at:

And the hard copy at:

Or, of course, check your local library!


How does the Literary Sewing Circle work? We read a book together, discuss it, and then make something inspired by our reading. As long as you can point out what inspired you from your reading, even if just a sentence, you can share your makes in our final roundup!

Anyone can join, and you can sew, knit, quilt or embroider - any textile art that you like doing - to participate. This is a reading/sewing circle, very low-key; no competitions here, just reading and sewing for fun. Although we are very lucky to have some special sponsor offerings this time around -- the discounts are available for the first few weeks of the sewalong to anyone participating, and two of the finished projects will be chosen at random to receive one of the free pattern offerings. Just finish and post your project by the end of the linkup and you will have a chance to win.

There is no official sign-up to worry about; just start reading along if you wish, and leave your thoughts on the book or your project on any of the Literary Sewing Circle posts. We do have a dedicated book discussion post halfway through and again at the end, but leave your thoughts anytime. And when the final post goes up, so does the project linkup -- you can leave a link to your finished project there, whether it is on your blog, a pattern site, or even Instagram. It's easy :)

So, join in, and share!

Literary Sewing Circle Schedule

Jan 25 - Announcement & Introduction

Feb 1 - Inspiration post & featured sponsors

Feb 8 - Author interview 

Feb 15  - Halfway mark: book talk

Feb 22 - Inspiration post

March 1 - Final Post: book discussion wrap up & posting of project linkup

(The project linkup will be live until the end of March so you have enough time to get your project posted)



Because this book takes place in Paris during the Belle Epoque, I reached out to some French pattern designers to see if they might be interested in sponsoring this round of the Literary Sewing Circle...and they were! Introducing our sponsors and their offers. 

Louis Antoinette is a Paris company with a very pretty aesthetic: 
many feminine dresses, blouses and tops to be found in their catalogue!
 They also offer sewing kits of fabric & pattern bundled together, and have an unusual option as well: you can order one of their designs and they'll make it for you! Check out their website for lots of details on all of these options, and you'll see lots of fun sewing accessories like bags and temporary tattoos on offer in addition to their large pattern catalogue. Their sizing seems to go to UK 18/US 16.
The Louis Antoinette "Vogue Dress" has caught my eye

Deer & Doe is a familiar name in sewing patterns! Run by two friends with an eye to environmentally friendly printed patterns and sizing up to a European 52 (XXL or US size 22) their pattern range has a variety of chic and pretty options. The Bluet and Bellandone dresses have been hits in the sewing community, and who hasn't made their free tshirt, the Plantain?

The Mysotis Dress is already a hit

Orageuse is a modern, urban sewing pattern company founded in 2016. It features minimalist, chic designs made to work together as a wardrobe. They have a few different collections on offer now, and they are very sleek designs often named after world cities. Their sizing goes up to a European 46, or US 18.
The Acacia Jumpsuit is one I've seen around the sewing community lately

The Offers:

If you're keen to get your hands on a French pattern, Louis Antoinette and Orageuse are offering 10% off their patterns during the first few weeks of the Literary Sewing Circle! 

Louis Antoinette has made their 10% discount available from 01/25 until 02/28. Use the code THREADS when you place your order.

Deer & Doe is also offering 10% from 01/25 to 02/14. Use the code LSC2019 when you place your order.

And there are prizes at the end too! 

If you submit a finished project to the linkup by the end of March, you will be eligible for a draw for a free pattern code from Louis Antoinette or  Orageuse. It will be a random draw from all finished, posted projects -- everyone who participates has an equal chance :)


  1. YAY! I am so excited. I'm not sure if I'll actually be able to complete a sewing project as I'm travelling a lot and don't have access to my sewing space, but I'll definitely read along and maybe even find another 'medium' to work in. As always, thank you so much, Melanie, for organizing these literary sew-alongs!

    1. You are welcome! I hope you'll be able to figure out something to sew/knit along with the title in your limited time and space :)

  2. Well this is exciting! I have been waiting ... and not disappointed. No copies in any library in my state, but not to worry, I have purchased a second hand copy on ebay which shouldn't take long. And I am doing a little research into that time. Plus the inspiration post is not so far away.

  3. And I meant to add - sponsors!! How is this. They all look very interesting, I have never tried patterns from any of them to date. So this will be a bit of fun. Well done Melanie for organising this.

    1. Hope your copy gets there soon! It's pretty neat to have sponsors, but I wanted to keep competition out of it anyhow :)

  4. I'm in! I just ordered the book for my Kindle. Now I'm off to check out the pattern company sponsors. I have a jacket in Paris fabric already. I will need to find new inspiration.

    1. Ooh, sounds good -- I hope you find something interesting to work on once you get reading!

  5. Count me in! I recently watched a video of the restoration of the Little Dancer's skirt, fascinating stuff. The New Moon's Arms was so good, I am happy to follow you into this adventure too. Thanks for organising this!

    1. I'll have to look that up! Intriguing. There is lots about art & Degas in the book so hopefully that will also inspire.

  6. I love this idea! Where do discussions and project posts happen?

    1. You can add your thoughts on the book to any post in the series, though on week 4 (next Friday) we will have a dedicated book discussion post, and again in the final post. The project linkup will go live the day of the final post -- March 1 -- and stay open until the end of March for everyone to share their project links. Hope that helps!

    2. Also, I've just started a Goodreads Group for the Literary Sewing Circle, so if anyone prefers to talk books over there you can join the group and starting chatting!


Share your comments, ideas or suggestions here -- I am always interested in hearing from readers. It's nice to have a conversation!