Elsy Menko – Country – Architecture

Amsterdam sunset

The city of Amsterdam shot to fame with its Canal Ring, a unique and magnificent urban plan developed and implemented from 1613 onwards, starting a period of great economic prosperity. The ring was constructed around the existing medieval center in order to cope with the population explosion. The fan-shaped canal ring of the Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht provided charming residences for the city’s prosperous merchants and governors. The often richly decorated houses are characterized by their gables and the entrances: the door at the top of the stairs was meant for important visitors, the door at the bottom of the stairs served servants and merchants. As land was scarce houses are usually narrow and high. Most houses have a lifting beam with a pulley at the top of the gable in order to facilitate lifting merchandise, furniture, etc. The impressive facades of the prominent houses in the canal ring reflect the fashion of the day: initially classicist with subsequent baroque additions.

In 2010, the Canal Ring received official recognition when it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

In my quilt six different facades of canal houses can be seen. When visiting beautiful Amsterdam you will notice that not one of the 17th century houses stands straight. This is reflected in my quilt. And the girl on the bicycle with the red scarf? That’s me!

Commercial fabrics, hand stitched and some machine stitching.

Detail view:


  1. Very effective and the additional of the sun gives it light. I love the different characters of the buildings (Think I know who inspired this piece!!) Lovely work.

  2. I love Amsterdam. I was there two times, and it always fascinated me. You have perfectly depicted the architectonic style of the old houses in the centre, paying close attention to all the details. Adding the sun creates a perfect tourism advertising poster without forgetting the red scarfed cyclist. I love it. Chapeau.

  3. studiociboulette

    Woaw, what a beautiful quilt. I love the colors, fabrics, and all the detailed embroidery. Bravo

  4. Maryte Collard

    Thank you for the lesson of history, told in fabric and thread. Incredible details!

  5. Hard to believe but I never been in Amsterdam . A very interesting story and mostly I adore your handmade embroidery. well done.

  6. The bright yellow sun, with its contrast, gives light and life in your composition, as well as the girl on the bicycle ! I love this idea.
    All the detailed hand stitches on the house are incredible ! Bravo !

  7. joanbrailsford

    I love this piece and the way that you have worked the details of the houses, the streets, and of course yourself on the bicycle! I have also visited Amsterdam, and this truly reflects the architecture there. I love the way that you have included the sun as a background. Beautiful

  8. A lovely composition with the sun providing a great contrast in shape and colour. Your detailed stitching brings it all to life, especially the girl on the bike. Lovely.

  9. I love your houses!! Great idea not having them straight. Beautiful how you put so many details in you hand stitched windows. You might wish the streets are so quiet when you go on a bike with a dog😉.

  10. I love this quilt with all of its whimsy of Amsterdam. Such fun that you placed yourself in it!

  11. Love all the beautiful hand embroidered details of these wonky narrow buildings. The sun adds a pop of color and accentuates the intricate details of each facade. You’ve captured the charm of this city. Lovely!

  12. Wonderful quilt of a beautiful city at sunset. Love your wonky houses, but most of all love how you added yourself with a red fluttering scarf and a dog in tow, biking on the “canal-streets”.
    What a creative idea and how “dutch”. Very well done.

  13. Great view and incredible detailed work on houses. Love it!

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