Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Fabric shopping at Liberty London and Amsterdam street markets! Happy 2018!

Happy 2018 everyone! 
I am starting off the new year with a blasted head cold that has me suffering through sinus headaches, using an endless supply of tissues and trying all the different cold remedies. The temperatures in Chicago are brutal right now so at least i'm not feeling bad about not getting fresh air. Wind chills of  -20 F have left me snuggled up in my place getting lots of rest.

I have also had the time to go through my holiday pictures and reminisce over my trip to Europe that I went on for the week and a half before Christmas. I had such a wonderful time!! I spent a couple days in London and then went on to the Netherlands to spend a week with my brother, sister-in-law and niece. 

As I look back at everything I did over those 11 days, I feel like it should have been too much! But, it really wasn't at all. I had some things I wanted to do and some things on the would like to do but not necessary and then plenty of unscheduled exploring time. I could write a blog post on each and every day! Since this blog is mostly about sewing I will share the sewing side of the trip :) 

I started in London for a couple of days. So most surprising thing about London: The Christmas lights and decorations!! London goes over the top and it was so awesome and so much fun and you just couldn't help but to smile and look around in wonder. They even have an entire webpage devoted to where and when you can see Christmas lights all over the City.

What else did I do in London:

  • Had tea at The Grosvenor House (I also stayed here!)
  • Walked and walked through and around Hyde Park
  • Saw the Balenciaga and general fashion exhibits at the V&A Museum
  • Went to the Opera: Power, Passion and Politics exhibit at the V&A
  • Attended the British Library Harry Potter- A History of Magic exhibit
  • Shopping at Liberty London!!! SO delightful!
  • More walking all over the place!
Balenciaga exhibit at the V&A was very well done despite, what I thought, was a relatively small sampling of his creations. It was well curated cross section of his design career and was done very interestingly. It was broken into 2 parts. The downstairs was all his work and then the upper level was all designers that were inspired by him and some that also had similar work. A very wide range of garments as well as 2 video large and loud video screens with looping interviews with new and current fashion designers as to how Balenciaga has inspired them. It was interesting and had some lovely creations but really felt more like they needed some filler to provide more for the price of the admission.
One of my favorite parts of the Balenciaga exhibit were these displays that had a dress (on right) on a rotating stand so you could see all of it! The muslin of the dress on the left, sketches of the garment and sometimes fabric swatches in the display. An x-ray of the dress in full size and on the video screen to the right was a ~2min movie that showed the construction of the dress. There were 3 or 4 of these displays.

This display was of some of the more over the top dresses. The pink one on the wall and the ombre one were all hand beaded by Maison Lesage. The embroidered gown on the left was embroidered after the pieces were cut. This kept the embroidery out of the seam allowances and made things match perfectly across the dress. sublime!

This was a display of some of the day dresses for his clients! Imagine wearing such beauty on a regular basis! The case was lined with mirrors so you could see the backs of the dresses as well.
Another highlight of my trip- Liberty of London!
I arrived in London and to my hotel by early afternoon. A nap, a shower and then I was off to the Liberty shop :) It was the only actual shopping that I did in London other than books from the exhibits that I attended. I spent almost 2 hours in the shop. It was very cool, eclectic and unlike any shop that I have ever been in. Each area was so different and the building itself was so charming. 

Of course I made a beeline for the fabric area! Ohhhhhh so many tana lawns!!!! and the rolls of silks and velvets. I could have just spent all day in there! They did a very nice job of organizing. The center of the floor was open to below so you could see up and down and the outer perimeter of that room was lined with all the garment fabrics. They were organized by special collections, newest releases, childrens prints, older collections and some of there ongoing collections. As you can imagine... I had a hard time not buying everything!!

The photo on the left is off a little alcove on the first floor where they have little gifts and such and these wonderful deer in the fireplace and mounted on the wall that are made with different liberty print fabrics. On the right upper is the notions and quilting fabric room and also houses the collection of buttons. In effort to not lose my mind or ALL of my money I stayed away from the button wall!
Left is the corner entrance and on the right are a shot of the home dec room which was delightful in its own right! adn the view from the upper balcony looking down. There was so much more to the store! Jewelry, clothing, rugs, home dec, live plants, kitchen, bath and lighting. It was a treat :)
The top picture is of the Tana Lawns: Starting top left going clockwise- Liesl from the Alpine Symphony seasonal collection, 2 Winter Florals (pink and smaller piece for contrast in yellow) from the Garden of Temptaion collection and then a piece for the Princess, 
Que for the Zoo from the main Liberty collection.
Below are 2 silks that I could not pass up! 
On the left is Tresco in a silk Satin and on the right is Turtle Thief.

After London I headed over to The Netherlands to spend time with my younger brother, Willie, and his wife, Lide, and their daughter, Roxie.

This too, was an amazing time! We had so much fun together and it was relaxing and I loved just getting to see and experience where my brother and his family live. Some things very similar and some things very different!

Netherlands trip included:
  • exploring Utrecht city, trying to climb the Dom Tower built in the 1300's and only making it to the bells!
  • Going under Utrecht and seeing an archaeological dig that showed evidence of the ancient roman walls from over 2000 years ago and all the periods between then and now.
  • Exploring a floating Christmas Market in the city of Leiden.
  • Exploring multiple outdoor markets in Utrecht and Amsterdam.
  • they sell everything in markets! flowers, clothes, fish, bread, meats, fabric, leather goods and more.
  • Enjoying a lovely tea made from fresh mint, shaved ginger and a lemon slice all served in a clear glass.
  • Taking the wrong train
  • riding a boat in the canals
  • visiting the Anne Frank House 
  • navigating and not getting run down by bicycles and vespa scooters!
  • buying buttons
  • buying fabric
  • Spending hours in the Van Gogh museum
  • Cookie baking and decorating party!
Fabric fun in Netherlands included: the Noodermarkt, The Albert Cuyp market and a couple small shops in Utrecht. 

My brother and I headed to the Noodermarkt in Amsterdam that is held every Saturday and Monday. The part that we went through reminded me very much of flea markets found here in the US. Lots of used books, clothes and stuff. I found some great vintage buttons and I bought myself some lovely thick double knits that you can see in the photo below

I also found a great button and notions shop in Utrecht (okay so my SIL showed me this shop... I'm just excited that I found my way back to it on my own!) These buttons are so cool and colorful and the best thing they are NOT plastic. they are shell that has been printed on.Very cool!

I had a free day to myself in Amsterdam and had a list of places to go to. I only made it to half the list! The Albert Cuyp market and the Van Gogh museum. I had several other fabric shops in another part of the city on the list but those will have to wait for the next trip! Probably a good thing since my suitcase was quite full from the purchases I already made! LOL! 
The Albert Cuyp market  was quite large, entertaining and had quite a few fabric shops/vendors as well as many other vendors! It was interesting as some of the vendor stalls were walk throughs to get into the shop associated with it and some were strictly tent vendors. Most of the fabric vendors also had shops and did a good job of showcasing sales or specials in the tent which enticed you to go inside! Of course my very favorite fabric shop in the market, Nanucci Tessuti, I did not get any pictures of because I was too busy trying not to drool on the amazing fabrics! 

Several of the shops along the way. Lots of fun and colorful fabrics to admire.
In the photo below you can see a lovely array of special fabrics for possibly mid-eastern and Indian weddings and special occasions. Sort of reminded me of US Prom fabric displays!

This shop, N&N Stoffen had a large assortment of beautiful cotton/lycra dutch prints. Many of which I have seen on Emmaonesock and other online US retailers. From here I kept my purchases at a minimum of 2 cuts because I knew this was all my suitcase could hold!
The first is a panel print that has a large image of the hot air ballons with the animals and is big enough to easily make a cute knit dress for the princess and on the right is this amazing skull print! I have been on the search for a good skull print for quite a while and this one is perfect.

Once you are tired from your shopping you can go from the notions store to the flower and plant shop and then right too the fresh fish and seafood vendors! 

SO in a nutshell... that was my fun and happy trip to Europe for the holidays!

Happy sewing in 2018!

The Princess playing tea with her stuffed animals and baby doll!


  1. Hello! I've been following your blog for a while now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout
    out from Dallas Tx! Just wanted to mention keep up the great work!

  2. Oooo! I'll have to try that for sure! Thank you so much for the idea!!


comments, thoughts, idea? Please share!