This weekend, I happened to be in New York City for some family events (including helping to pack up the house that my stepmom, little brothers and Dad lived in for nearly two decades). Luckily, on the way down to the city I had been perusing the June issue of Martha Stewart Living and came across a mention of Les Toiles du Soleil -- a French company that has produced bright, sophisticated striped cotton canvas for more than 150 years -- which had opened its first U.S. boutique last winter. I've had a fascination with this fabric ever since I gave my bridesmaids a tote and cosmetic bag made from it from the now defunct Martha Stewart catalog (oh, how I miss that!), so I was determined to find a slice of time to get there. Saturday afternoon, with a window of just 90 minutes, my aunts and I hightailed it on the A train down to Chelsea, and Les Toiles du Soleil did not disappoint. Combine the cheery surroundings with the equally cheery and hip store owner Sandrine, and I was instantly smitten. The store was a visual feast -- bolts of fabric hanging on racks and piled up on top of each other, blackboards displaying prices, neat stacks of tables linens, cosmetic bags and fabric-covered notebooks, and galvanized tubs filled with pillows -- I felt instantly transported to a little shop in France (not that I've ever been there, but I have a good imagination, and Sandrine's charming accent helped). But what really struck me was how, well, affordable everything seemed. For $58, you can score a yard of the many classic 72" striped canvas choices, and just $20 more buys you a yard of the water-resistant Sunbrella ones. They also have an in-store seamstress who can make nearly anything you imagine(curtains, table cloths, deck chairs, roller shades, totes, you name it). The thing I've been stuck on since I've left though is the shop's incredible oilcloth (this is not your grandmother's red and white check picnic table covering). For just under $100, I'm going to transform an old IKEA table into an easy-to-clean candy-striped art space. Yum.
Les Toiles Du Soleil, 261 West 19th Street, New York. Purchases can be made over the phone or by visiting the shop...don't miss it if you find yourself in New York!