Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dongdaemun, the happiest place on Earth

When we got back to Korea after our summer in the USA, I ran into Katie Fleetwood at the bank. We decided we needed to go to the Dongdaemun fabric market.

Here we are at the bank
Usually I drive to Dongdaemun and it takes forever because of the terrible traffic, there are busses that can get there much faster because of the bus lane, but I usually get a lot of things and it's tough taking it all back on the bus. Fortunately, we found out that if enough people are interested the social committee at school can get us a school bus! For free! So for my own selfish reasons, I put together a trip to Dongdaemun. Actually a lot of people went and everyone I talked to had a great time. This just confirms that being selfish is a good life choice for me.

There are two parts to Dongdaemun: the shopping part and the fabric market. Maybe there's more, but this is basically why most people go to this part of Seoul. I don't like the shopping part because none of the clothes fit me except the socks and there are only so many Obama socks one person can own.

And who needs to go to the shopping part when you can spend all day in the fabric market?!
Ahhh, so much to see
Even disco balls? Dongdaemun! You're so amazing!
I made a ring out of a little charm from here.
Katie and Kathryn looking around

 I had lots of little projects I wanted to try and of course grabbed some unexpected fabric too, just because I liked it so much.

First project: decorating with embroidery hoops. This one is so easy and turned out so great. First we found these embroidery hoops (and then found them again and again on several other floors).

Then I found some fabric I liked. When I got home, I just put the fabric in the hoop, trimmed it and hung it up.
 Here's the before of the desk area:
Ta-da! Here's the after!

 Also note that we got that desk out of the trash yesterday.

Next project: recover the kitchen chairs. There's nothing wrong with these chairs, but if they can be prettier, then why not? I was looking for laminate fabric which is basically fabric that's coated in plastic. This makes it way easier to clean. I tried pantomiming it to this guy who didn't speak English. How should once act out "laminate"? He picked up his carrot phone (every stall seems to have one and it really is shaped like a carrot) and called an interpreter. After getting a description from the interpreter, he showed me some laminate fabrics he had and I didn't like them. Then he got out the book. This is something I didn't know my first time visiting Dongdaemun. Most stalls have books of a huge variety of samples, you can choose one from the book, they call a guy and he shows up from who-knows-where about 10 minutes later with the amount you want. It's magical! The book had probably 100 different kinds of laminate fabrics, I chose a lovely floral print. He picked up the carrot phone again and my one yard was brought to me in about 10 minutes (in case you're wondering this guy is in B1...somewhere).
"Please help, I can't tell what this lady is doing"
Chair before:

Chair after!

I grabbed a fabric with a geometric print at Happy Quilt before leaving with no real plan for it (For those of you who googled "Happy Quilt" and ended up here, Happy Quilt is stall A5215). Then I remembered I was going to make a tray for our squishy ottoman/coffee table. I saw on the internet that you can make a tray out of a picture frame by adding door pulls. There seem to be no door pulls in Korea (ok, they're probably somewhere but they weren't at Dongdaemun and they weren't at HomePlus) but the tray turned out great anyway. 

I took this frame with our adorable children in it, threw away the picture (just kidding!) and put fabric in it.

Ta-da! Now I can put my coffee down on the ottoman/coffee table!

Each time I go to the fabric market, I go to Happy Quilt first. After that, I wander around in the huge maze, there is no chance of finding a stall again and I get turned around so easily. Each time I go, I forget that there's also fabric in the basement. It was there that I found the most. beautiful. fabric. It's almost fall (can't wait) so I got this to cover the throw pillows on the couch so the apartment is ready for fall too.

So pretty!
Ready. Bring on the cooler temperatures
After we got what we needed, we headed back outside.
motorbikes ready to deliver...things
 We got pineapple on a stick for $1. It was so, so delicious that I ate two.

And then it was time to go. Check out our sweet KIS bus:

 Katie and I should run into each other at the bank and plan trips like this more often.

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