London – Food, Fabric, Sightseeing

London June and July 2017

Two different short trips to the capital of England and the UK.   I think this was probably my fifth trip to London, so I did skip the top of the tourist list spots.  While walking in Hyde Park (Home of Kensington Palace and the Diana Memorial Fountain) we discovered the Food Night Market.   I love this description of the event from the Evening Standard Walkways festooned with lights lead the way to a covered, cloistered seating area, with a clear plastic roof for starlit nights, and a multicoloured “umbrella roof” for earlier in the day. Around the market, red telephone boxes are decked out as powder rooms and takeaway libraries, while scattered Eden Project-style mini domes make the perfect reclusive date spots. 

In true London fashion, it rained.  Not the Texas “frog-strangler” type of rain, but drizzly, chilly Texas fall weather rain.  It didn’t dampen our hunger, or the fun.  Especially considering we signed up for the Kettle One Bloody Mary master class.  In addition to making one of those we finished the class with a chocolate creme coffee vodka cocktail.

Be like a local – dress in layers and always carry an umbrella!

My sightseeing this trip included a visit to the Sherlock Holmes Museum 

It is kitchsy, but I did get a picture with this pretend bobby.

Sherlock Holmes Museum 221 B Baker Street

Unlike the tight security at Buckingham palace changing of the guard.  Notice the real police force with machine guns politely shooing (not shooting) tourists that wander too close to the gate.  With recent events I did see a greater police presence in London and every European city.  Here is the schedule to see the event for your self.   Realize that there will be a crowd and a fence, so go and enjoy the beautiful park and your small glimpse of the action.    Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace encompasses colourful spectacle and British pageantry. The ceremony lasts about 45 minutes between 11.00-11.45am on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from January to March, weather permitting.


Changing of the guard – Buckingham Palace

When visiting any where, I always compare – what is the same at home, what is different.   I LOVE the walk sign in Trafalger Square.  Nope, equality isn’t something you see on our street corners.

I did find an amazing exhibit of a tapestry commissioned by the weaver’s guild.  This artistic collaboration between artist Chris Ofili and the guild was simply breathtaking.  See the huge tapestry as well as a close up of the weaving that re creates the texture of the original watercolor.

Fabric shopping this trip has no pictures to protect the guilty.  But I did bring home some Liberty London cotton, and some bargains from Goldhawk Road.  While in London be sure to catch a play or performance in the West End.  We saw Motown the Musical, it was fabulous.  The Victoria and Albert is not to be missed, there is almost always a special fashion and/or culture exhibit.   For easy transport around the city, get a tourist Oyster card.  London is an easy city to walk and access via the “tube”.  Just don’t forget to “mind the gap”.

Cheers –  Markita

Pattern Review Weekend 2017 – New York/Brooklyn

Visiting New York again – this time with my sewing sisters.  If you have just started following my blog, let me just say that I sew.  It is a passion, a creative outlet and a boutique business for me.  And there are makers out there that share my passion.  You will find them in the online community located at   Launched 16 years ago by the fabulous Deepika, the site has an international community of over 450,000 members.   You can find reviews of sewing patterns, books, classes, stores, and machines.   And once per year, some of these enthusiasts get together for a weekend of sewing fun and shopping.

First up was a tour of the New York office of the McCall Pattern company (McCall/Butterick/Vogue/KWIK SEW patterns).  We were not allowed to take photos past the entrance, due to all the secret designs coming soon.  It was amazing to see how much creativity is generated by so few employees.   It requires planning and coordination among departments and teams.

We visited the fabric library where swatches are cataloged by color and type.   Learning how Pantone and garment color trends influence the fabrics that are chosen for the pattern sample garments.

One of the most surprising things to me was the reverse engineering that is done to create the Vogue designer patterns.   A team of experienced and talented makers receive the garments from the fashion houses.  Then they create both patterns and instructions with out taking apart the original garments.

We also visited the photo studio, where next season’s shoes were lined up awaiting the models for the next catalog.

The first official day we had a great panel of sewing experts to answer our questions and give us their ideas on the state of the home sewing industry.  The panel featured actress Marcy Harriell known for her blog oonaballona; Meg McDonald, social media manager of McCall pattern company Deborah Kreiling, design development director, Simplicity creative group; and Karen Groner, professor of fashion design, FIT.

Swatch – Mood Fabrics
AKN fabrics 1239 Broadway #507

Day two was fabric shopping!!!  As you can see from my suitcase packed to the 50 lb limit, I had a very successful trip.   Swatch, the famous dog from Mood fabrics (taken on the previous New York trip).  Marcy gave us the tip about AKN as a source of wax prints.   I also made purchases at Elliot Berman Textiles and Purl Soho (both opened just for our group); Pacific Trimming.  Going shopping in New York?  Drop me a note and I can share some stores and addresses for fabric fun.

Custom leather handbag ByMarkita Pattern by ChrisW Designs (Uptown Girl)
Travel organizer for chargers and cords ByMarkita

This year the PRweekend “contest” was to create a travel accessory.  Yes, I won the contest with my black and white hair on leather handbag and travel organizer for chargers and cords.  How to make your own


I love the sewing community created by Pattern Review – where I hang out until the next PRWeekend!