Thursday, August 30, 2018

Summer Vacation, 2018, Part 2

Warning, holiday picture heavy post ahead.  First of all, thanks for your sweet comments on my travel wardrobe planning.  Mr. Lucky and I enjoy active holidays with only a little traditional sightseeing so I could easily get by with my LL Bean and REI clothes each day and evening.  But when I am meeting people and say that my hobby passion obsession is sewing, then I feel obligated, on behalf of all the world's amateur "sewists," to be wearing something that I made.  And to be honest, I just like my clothes and I hate leaving them lonely in my closet at home.
So now, that I am packed, we flew from Baltimore straight to London.  (Another reason to love Baltimore, besides the fact that Sarah Veblen, Susan Khalje and Rae Cumbie are some of the local sewing experts.)  Visiting England in June is marvelous, even more sunshine per day than we have in Maryland.  And sunshine is the cure for jet lag...that and a low dose pill on the overnight flight.  We dropped our luggage at the hotel near Paddington and Hyde Park then walked a few miles, enjoying that sunshine and window shopping.  Selfridges windows have been part of its marketing efforts since its founding and I love seeing them each time we are in London.  This time they explored the theme of "luxury" and the ying and yang of consumer goods in our society.  Yes, ironic considering they are a retail store and certainly excel at making me think that the new shiny bauble will make my life better.  But since we were heading out to the countryside in a few days I immediately fell in love with this window and its sentiment.
"Is the ultimate luxury enjoying the beauty of nature?"
Then there's the thought provoking one with familiar items from my decades on the planet all crammed together:
Yes, at least three sewing machines in the mix of "modern" appliances.
Then just some designer windows along our way.  
Chanel jacket with cording trim
Great bias plaid dress
All that walking meant that we needed nourishment.   Mr. Lucky and I are dim sum fans and found another delightful place, Dumplings Legend, in Soho.  
I'm terrible at the "photograph your food before you eat" trick
Back to the hotel to check in, take a short nap then head out to the theater for the first of three London plays in as many days.  
Yes, we're theater junkies.  Usually we just take our luck at the Leicester Square TKTS discount booth but I had seen a play online that looked intriguing and was able to get a great price....for an absolutely terrific show.  Wow, I am still thinking about this one months later.  
We weren't familiar with the "coughing major" cheating scandal from Britain's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? but that hardly mattered.  The play was a Chichester Theatre festival winner and I could fully understand why. Quiz Show review It was timely in its focus on the how the popular media began in the early '90s manipulating emotions for ratings and money, changing from game shows that focused on knowledge and recall and facts to ones that used pop culture to dumb down content but play up emotional dilemmas of contestants as the entertainment.  The staging, the audience involvement (it is actually a court case presented in flashbacks and we the audience vote twice upon the guilt of the three defendants, once at intermission and then at the conclusion of the show....and the results from previous audience votes are shared as well.)  Wow, our first day in London ended with excitement and applause.  

Day two started out slowly (long hard sleep in our modern, quiet hotel, The Westbourne Hyde Park) but gloriously sunny so I first thing was to get on my phone and buy tickets for that evening's Open Air Theater in Regent's Park.  Then it was up for more walking and snoop shopping for me.  Mr. Lucky is such a good sport when I want to look at big city stores and all the current fashions.  They don't fit 90% of my daily life but it's still so much fun to see trends.  But first let's get some nourishment again with brunch at the John Lewis rooftop garden and restaurant.  When I was younger, many American department stores had at least one if not several dining establishments but those days, for the most, are long gone.  It is a reminder, for me at least, of a slower time when shopping was a special event, for an Easter dress or winter coat or new school shoes.  Fast fashion and fast food are now the norm.  London isn't that much different in those areas but there are still full service department stores which have disappeared in much of the USA.
Brunch at the John Lewis restaurant
John Lewis roof top dining
When even small department stores have full service florists, then I know I am in a different country.  

Yes, more snoop shopping including a fun visit to one of the many Ted Baker boutiques in town.  Look, bows are everywhere this year:

Then suddenly the iconic Liberty store was right in front of us.  I haven't been inside Liberty for at least 25 years (or more!)  Mr. Lucky and I came to England  somewhat regularly then using my at the time generous airline mileage rewards but staying in very inexpensive b&bs and mostly going to the theatre, on great countryside hikes and seldom buying anything, except maybe some lovely Mason Cash mixing bowls that I still love.  But I do recall a visit to Liberty's haberdashery and gorgeous fabric selection.  I have a two meter piece of wool plaid that I made into a ruana with my very first serger, back in perhaps 1989.  What a splurge that wool was.  So I was eager to revisit that department...but what a change.  My fellow American sewing friends "of a certain age" bemoan the loss of elegant fashion fabric stores....and guess what, friends, that has happened at Liberty, too.  Now, yes, of course the famous Liberty lawn and cotton fabrics are there and even a few silks but quilting abounds and not a piece of wool in sight. 
Liberty chair for a reading corner and Liberty print sewing machine
I am glad that I visited...because I was able to get this picture, a comfy reading chair in a corner and a Liberty print sewing machine sums up my two greatest interests..but I am also glad that I could visit other stores to find those luxury fabric purchases.  
However, no moaning about the past when there's a new favorite just down the way... Misan Textiles on Berwick Street  I only purchased two "remnants" in the bargain section, both lightweight silks for maybe 10 pounds, or less than $15.00 per meter.  
Misan silk with butterflies which will turn into a summer kimono
Misan silk that I just loved and could not resist at 40 pounds for 4 meters
After dropping my purchases off at the hotel, Mr. Lucky and I bought Marks and Spencer to go salads and wine to take to Regent's Park for a light picnic in the gardens.  Early June means the flowers are in riotous bloom and the roses are truly the size of cabbages.  We ate, wandered and exclaimed.  

Even if you don't attend a show at the Open Air theatre you should try to visit this wonderful place.  
But we did see a show and it was another thought-provoking evening.  
"Peter Pan."  Hmmm, how quaint and quintessentially British.  I adored the Mary Martin theatrical version that played a few times on television in my early years.  The television was small and black and white and I was a little confused about the gender bending casting but I have loved it from the start.  So, I thought, this show will be sweet and outside in the summer air will be fun.  Wow, I underestimated this production which was fabulous.  Peter Pan Regents Park review  

The stage opens on a hospital in WWI and fills with young wounded soldiers and the young nurses taking care of them.  Not how I recall Peter Pan beginning.  But one of the oh so young soldiers is moaning in pain and as the young nurse adjusts his bedding, a copy of Peter Pan falls on the floor.  You realize that he has been reading it to comfort himself with thoughts of home and younger days and she starts in reading it to him....and Peter Pan ensues, but with the soldiers as the boys, the nurse as Wendy and the officers as Hook and his crew. 
Can you spot Smee and the hand crank sewing machine?
It was terrifically staged and thrilling enough that yes, a little girl in the audience jumped up and clapped loudly when Peter asks if we believed in fairies.  But the ending is a bit different.  As the traditional story closes we get an epilogue from those young men in the hospital....some who survived to head back home, have  families and jobs and friends and good lives...and others who didn't make it back but march off stage, a sign that those "lost boys" died in the "Great War."  How poignant to realize, in a year that will celebrate the centennial of the end of the war, that the original audience for Peter Pan would too soon become the participants in such a tragic conflict.  Plenty of tears shed all around us as the lights came up and I doubt any of us will think of Peter Pan as just a children's story in the future.

Third and last day in London so we had to get our priorities straight.  We both started out on an early morning mission since we had matinee tickets for the afternoon. Mr. Lucky took the tube and bus out to play golf at a course near Wimbledon and I went to find the famous Goldhawk Road fabric corridor.  He had an ok round and I had a marvelous time exploring the two dozen little shops in Shepherds Bush.  I went looking specifically for a grey wool of some sort to combine in a winter jacket/topper with a dark ribbed grey wool that I had from Fabric Mart.  I found just the thing at Classic Textile. Classic Textiles

And because I felt so successful on that mission, I treated myself to two meters of this Liberty silk

Once again, drop fabric at the hotel and head downtown for the last show, one that was "Simply the best...."
Wishing I had legs like Tina Turner's
Wow, what a life, what a show and what fun.  We were still grinning over dinner in the Covent Garden area at Cote Brasserie, a French-inspired chain that was the perfect almost end to the day.Cote Brasserie London
Look at these perfect starters on the Prix Fix menu

I said almost end because we had one more event, 

Yes, we joined many others in attending Beating Retreat that evening.  The queen gets two birthday celebrations, one on April 21 and then the better weather second Saturday in June.  Beating Retreat Beating retreat is a centuries old tradition done in the past when drums would beat the return of troops from the battlefield.  (That marching in formation to and from battle seemed so barbaric when I heard about it in history and now seems less so when nuclear and chemical weapons are a threat.)  For us it meant watching military bands from the UK and around the globe playing in formation, ceremonial splendor (including a visit from Prince Andrew and the Princesses Eugienie and Beatrice) and then fireworks.  History and fireworks, the perfect conclusion to a whirlwind three days.  

Yes, Prince Andrew and the children came to join in the festivities.

Next post I'll finish this long vacation essay by exploring the British and Scottish countryside with HF Holidays....and there will still be sewing related happenings there, too.  If you have read this far, thank you for your tolerance patience interest.  My daily life in Baltimore is so full of great things that a trip as special as this can quickly fade from my memory.  Having this blog to update is enjoyable for me since I get to relive it through the pictures....and later through those fabrics;-)

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Part 1

Yes, it's time for the "how I spent my summer vacation" post....which could also be called "why I haven't blogged for more than an entire season of the year."  When we last spoke, I was sewing and packing for a trip to England and Scotland.  I'm going to share what I made, what I packed, what we did and what fabric souvenirs came home with me.   
Please feel free to leave the room whenever you like.  You see, I remember being much younger and my parents bringing out the slide projector and screen to show vacation pictures to perhaps unwitting friends and neighbors.  Now, thanks to the virtual anonymity of the internet I won't know if you clicked on this page and read all of the post or if you left in a nanosecond...and thanks to some eventual maturity on my part I won't mind if you leave quickly but I will be happy if you stay and join in the fun.
Mr. Lucky and I were last seen heading out to England and Scotland for another walking holiday.  I watch the weather patterns obsessively in the previous weeks and watched it go from cold and dreary to gloriously sunny, real Royal Wedding weather.  
Here are the outfits and sewing projects that I completed in time for the trip...and one that got left behind.  Layers are an important part of my travel wardrobe so first up was a Margarita Tank Top by Lyla Messenger, a staple in my wardrobe. Margarita Tank Top I wanted to use some navy stretch lace and auditioned several knit under layers.  White was too bright, navy was too dark and the lace detail was lost.  

Margarita Tank Top by LJ Designs
I ended up using an almost cornflower blue/purple which worked well with a solid navy cardigan and with this navy striped cardigan.

The selvedge had little pleat like the lace so I used it to finish the neckline.
Ok, that was one new garment ready for the suitcase.  Next up was a simple white lace shell from my TNT t shirt pattern, boring but oh so useful.
Pamela's Patterns Perfect T as a tank top
Now let's make a third layer that will go with that lace top.  I have had this tropical silk print (Fabric Mart, of course) in my resource center for years and the kimono pattern, Simplicity 1318 1318 is so classic that it is still in the catalog.  
Simplicity 1318 kimono jacket

And now something else new for the black cardigan that is a staple in traveling...a blue, black and white silk bias top sewn using a shorter version of a Sandra Betzina bias dress pattern that I love for summer. original post about Vogue 7823 bias dress 
Vogue 7823 as a sleeveless top
And then I decided to sew up one more blue and white item for that travel scheme.  I bought this oh so beautiful gingham print cotton lace-like fabric at a Fabric Mart fabric store buyout in the spring.  And I have my trusty boho tunic pattern ready and waiting, New Look 6110, now OOP unfortunately.  It was fussy sewing since the fabric is so lightweight and full of holes.  Used a Linda Lee suggestion and sewed with tissue paper underneath most of the seams and then tore it gently afterwards.  

I love, love the result but decided at the last minute not to pack it.  The fabric is just too fragile to stand up to much wear and tear so it's saved for special casual occasions but not for packing and unpacking.  And yes, it does need a white or flesh toned camisole top underneath it.
New Look 6110
So those are the me made items that went into my suitcase.  The next two posts will be about our time in London, the South Downs and the Highlands of Scotland.  And yes, sewing friends, fabric will be purchased.
Here's hoping you too are reminiscing about your enjoyable summer days and planning your fall sewing projects.