Friday, 20 February 2015

Adventures in Elective Adult Sewing Class


I finally did what was on my to do list like the one Blue Booby has except I haven't written mine down but will do in March.


I took a sewing class!
I have only ever sewn holes in socks for fun as a kid.

I went to a school called Sew over it.
But it was on the northern line which had to be the most infuriating line in London.  It almost made me whimper last year and
it's rarely a simple journey.

I had to change lines twice and it was eerily quiet as
it was early Sunday morning.


As I was exiting I saw this red balloon.  
It was so neat.
 I wanted it but I was running late so took a quick snap and ran.


I was told to pick a fabric as soon as I arrived as we were first going to make a cushion.

I'll skip the technical bits like pin everything and cut and sew in a straight line.
Blah blah blah...
While I love learning I am not a good student.

Then this is what happens when you underestimate straight lines.


Bit wonky but I now know how to make a cushion!
 
I just went with the flow but some people took it so seriously and were nervous.
I had to ask someone why they came ( in the nicest manner ) because if I was going to panic like that I would have just slept in.
I just wanted to say, "It's not the SAT's - it's a cushion."

I also made a tote bag which was perfect to take my cushion home.

It was a two full day course and the next day
I made a make up bag with a zipper.


It looks like my brothers dog had a go at it.  
I have a whole new respect for zippers now.
 
The last section was to make or alter something so
I decided to learn to sew straight on scraps which my tutor looked upon nicely but pityingly while one of my fellow students
brought in a cardigan like they were on project runway.
 
It was a great course because it gave me a sense of capability so
I decided to make use of their sewing cafe where you can go and use their facilities charged per hour.
 
Beautiful buildings on the way to the sewing café in Angel.
 
I made a cushion using the fabric I got on sale at Colefax Fowler.
It's in one of my favourite toile patterns - Bengale.

The front side

Could be better,  could be worse.
The lady at the café thought I was "brave" using this fabric considering I just learned to sew.
 
I still have to put in the zipper.
Wish me luck.
Reverse side that was supposed to be a slip in but I once again miscalculated so now I have to put in a zipper
 
I have been meaning to hem the curtains in the top floor for ages. But as is custom in London the hemming was going to cost around 100 quid and take around at least a week. 
Putting in fabric tape was another 150 on top...

I could now not only save money but
I was going to do it here and now.
Not only did I hem but I thought I would also add some fabric tape.
"Brave."
What's the worse that could happen?
Look crap.
The curtains were from Ikea so I wasn't too nervous.
My self esteem is not tied to my sewing.

Could be better, could be worse.
 
But I had a load of fun doing it.
I would have like more of a pooling or puddling of fabric that hit the floor but I forgot that hemming involves folding over twice so
I miscalculated...At least they aren't highwater curtains.
 

I think I definitely have caught the sewing bug because I saved the cut leftover fabric from the curtains and am thinking of
practicing / gifting to my friends some cushions with braid!
 
*This is not in anyway a sponsored post and I paid for this class myself.*

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Selfies and Shelfies are nothing new...

I had a very relaxing but also a very mentally stimulating trip to Holland and had a few aha moments.


Society wrongfully thinks itself advanced and thinks that the term "selfie" is postmodern. 
Self Portrait by Rembrandt
And yet Rembrandt was doing that 500 years ago.

Instagram thinks that it is the sine qua non of 
still lifes and "shelfies" but once again 
the Dutch were doing that 500 years ago.

 These exact objects Rembrandt painted 
were found in the courtyard of his home.

This is the recreation of the cabinet of curiosities that 
Rembrandt kept in his home for his paintings.

It is only natural to want to document something beautiful.



"Shelfies" were also used to examine and 
ponder life's bigger questions. 

It was also an early version of Through the Keyhole.


I had another realization when I went to Delft - 
the city of Vermeer, royal churches, and porcelain.

Display cabinet at the Royal Delft Museum

 
I went on a tour of the only remaining Delftware factory
 from the golden age of porcelain production.
The three main stages of production
I learned that the Dutch East India company made a large percentage of their fortune importing Ming Chinese porcelain.


Delft Tulip towers
After 50 years of roaring trade and a seemingly never ending unquenchable demand for "China", 
the Chinese were in a civil war that lasted about 80 years.

Lesser known types of Delftware
Supply had come to a mere trickle but demand only grew.
The turmoil in China forced the craftspeople in Delft to innovate and perfect producing similar blue and white porcelain that was coming out of the ports of Guangzhou.

Black examples of Delftware
I had to giggle.

I couldn't believe that Delft - one part of the holy trinity for porcelain and faience collectors - started as a counterfeit racket.

Love the green Delftware!
But imitation of goods that were coming out of Guangzhou -
the present day capitol of counterfeit goods!

Plus ca change eh?

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Real Estate Voyeurism in Amsterdam

I went to Amsterdam for a few days last week.
While I went for cultural pursuits of museums, exhibitions, and visiting towns there is a segment of tourists who go for other pursuits.
While I am too laissez-faire to judge, 
there was a part of me that internally thought myself 
a morally upright European citizen because 
I was not interested in peeping through 
the windows of the red light district.

But then I scrolled through my pictures
I took and it turns out that I am a peeping tom of a different sort...

Luckily the Dutch don't attach much importance to window treatments!
The first thing I noticed the time I visited in my teens was that I could look inside people's houses.
That was more mind blowing than the legalized prostitution and cannabis.

They are so open and tolerant of most things.

I asked why people didn't use curtains and my Dutch friend said it's because they had nothing to hide and people are just living. 

Then it seemed like I was the odd one out.

While I enjoyed peering in...
 I enjoyed peering out from the inside.


 I enjoyed being inside having a proper look around the homes.


I love the look of a historic Dutch kitchen.
 
But I loved exploring the canal houses built by wealthy merchants from the Dutch Golden Age.
 

There were homes on the scales of grand country estates but in the center of the city with gardens and coach houses at the rear.



I peered over homes of all types of decor and eras such as this Victorian salon.

And also the homes of the 1700's style.

Sometimes it wasn't only the style but the actual textiles and 
wall coverings that dated back to the 1700's 
such as the ones in the room below.
Textiles from the looms of Nimes
 And 300 year old Delft tiles almost became the norm for me for those few days.
 
 
 The original glaze survives on the edges of the room.
 


It is no coincidence that the Dutch Masters such as Vermeer mastered the science of light.







Blue and white and toile du jouy was au fait and executed without duress.




I can't wait to go on another trip to Holland but focusing on their gardens such as Het Loo and Keukenhof. But in the meantime I was so inspired by the Dutch interiors and the less than clement weather was worth enduring!