23 January 2016

Top-Hat and Tales

What with one thing or another, there's been a lot of toing and froing for us since the beginning of December - way more than usual. Firstly, Filippo returned home to Verona after his first term at university in the UK; and Camilla instead went off for her university interviews. Then they flew to Amsterdam with their Dad during the holiday of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. And by that time it was my turn to make an unscheduled trip back to England - when one of my dearest friends suddenly died. His funeral was in London just two days before Christmas, and I returned back home to Italy in the nick of time, on Christmas Eve. Fil has now gone back to begin his second term, but sadly I must return to England again soon; and this time it's for my wonderful Uncle's funeral. Please don't worry, this isn't going to be a maudlin post, but I will just permit myself a short rant if I may, because losing two dearly loved people in just over a month takes its toll. Frustratingly, the pain is exacerbated by the seemingly interminable period of "limbo" imposed by the unacceptably long wait that has become the norm in Britain, before the funeral can finally bring it's gift of closure. Whatever is going on England??? - you never used to make people wait this long!!! Don't the authorities appreciate how greatly suffering is prolonged by this delay? I don't accept the argument that it's the fault of over-population. How is it then (and I'm just musing here) that Italy, which has almost the exact same level of population, and is the same size as Britain, is sufficiently organised to keep the delay between death and funeral down to a couple of days, MAX three if there happens to be a weekend involved. Sorry, I just needed to vent a bit. Understandably I've been neglectful of my blog over these past days and I apologise to some of my favorite bloggers who's posts, while deserving acknowledgment, have gone uncommented. As a new Blogger I'm just learning now that in order to function well and convey genuine, positive spontaneity, blogging demands a flow of creative energy. There's no joy for the blogger herself in labouring to get a post out simply for "posting a Post's" sake, and there's no enjoyment for the reader either, who picks up on the stagnant energy. So, when I finally began catching-up with everyone, I was especially affected by Melanie's (of Bag and a Beret), attestation to the motivational power of weekly blogger linkups; and as another of my favorites, Anne of Pretty Grievances has got her Jungle January going on, my Writer's Block and Creator's Cramp began dissolving and I found the spark of motivation necessary to get involved. So I made this.

Ages ago I'd bought a length of this polyester to line a rather odd cape/coat which I've cut out but still has to be sewn up, (I made it 4 months later) and I was left with these three pattern panels which have just been waiting around for the right project.  Enter "Jungle January"!!!

So, I had limited fabric to work with. I used the "hour-glass" shape of the print to self-draft a cap-sleeved tunic, which I left loose enough to slip over my head, negating the need for an opening. Then I cut the sleeves from the remainder of the third panel. It meant they would be non-identical (which I like), and it also dictated their truncated length. I made french seams ..... the shoulders first, then I attached the sleeves, and finally I closed the sleeves and tunic sides in continuous seams from wrist to hem

I drafted a neck facing which I cut on the bias for comfort, from a piece of stone coloured viscose I had in my stash.

And I used a strip of the remaining black polyester, which I doubled lengthwise to create a self-facing, and gathered to make wrist frills. These frills aren't particularly tightly gathered, being just twice the measurement of the sleeve opening. Adding frills made in this way served a few purposes:- 
1 I actually used this scrap of fabric, rather than just throwing it at a landfill, a sentiment that was particularly inspired by Ivona's post (she has SUCH a beautiful blog!)
2 The frills added some length and detail to the sleeves. 
3 I could omit conventional hemming. 
This fine woven polyester is frankly diabolical. Since I began sewing again early last year, I've foolishly fallen for it (or similar) far too often, being seduced by its siren prints. To be fair at a sale price of €3 a metre I did well to pick this up with the view to using it as outerwear lining, but given that I don't have a super-sleek sewing machine, my instinct is to avoid top-stitching or anything else which will visibly give away my inexpertise when handling such slithery, "disobedient" fabric.

I used a deeper, single-layer strip for the hemline frill and I used the same stone coloured viscose as I'd used for the neck-facing to bind the raw edge. This time the frill is more than three times the hem circumference. This creates a richly gathered frill which is lent weight by the heavier viscose binding.

So, that's my "Wild Girl" contribution to the Jungle January jaunt. Thanks Anne, I'm grateful for the nudge you provided to get me going again, and the inspiration to use this fabric. 

My above elbow gloves came from a market stall, and the patent leather boots are from Bertie in London, bought in a mad moment during the Christmas sales of 2004 ........... but my delectable little Top Hat arrived only last week. 

When I was in London just before Christmas, I stayed with my gorgeous friend Stef  (there's more about her hereand she had the very same hat. Of course I admired it, and tried it on, and examined it to see whether actually making one myself might be feasible; and then I forgot about it. But Stef is an EXTRAORDINARY friend, and no sooner had she seen how taken I was with such a fun little piece of frivolity, than (unbeknownst to me) she went on-line, and ordered one as a gift for me, to be delivered to Italy by post. Such a wonderful surprise!

"I love it Stef, THANK YOU. It makes me smile"

This Blog is pro-autism.
Thank you, Sallyxx

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8 January 2016

Brusare la Vecia e un Cappotto Issey Miyake

E' ufficiale ... il Natale è finito. Abbiamo bruciato La Vecia

Umberto al falò della Befana a Rivoli
La Befana in Piazza Brà, in centro Verona
Camilla & Umberto in Piazza Brà
C'è tanto che si potrebbe dire su questa tradizione Italiana della Befana ogni 6 gennaio - ma visto che io non sono Italiana ma tu (probabilmente) lo sei, non vorrei annoiarti con cose che sai meglio di me.

La sera del 6 gennaio sono andata assieme a Camilla ed Umberto a vedere i preparativi per il festeggiamento della sera stessa.

Camilla indossava il cappotto che le avevo fatto ancora in ottobre. Visto che lei deve partire da casa ogni mattina alle ore 06.20 per arrivare a scuola a Verona entro le 07.50 - e fa FREDDO in inverno; il cappotto deve proprio tener caldo!

 L'Orologio del Brà.
In fondo, l'Arena Romana.
La Stella Cometa è diventata un iconico simbolo del Natale a Verona. Viene montato ogni anno. La "cometa" parta da dentro l'Arena per atterrare fuori in Piazza Brà

Indossando il mio buon, vecchio cappotto Armani - che "va" ancora dopo 23 anni!

La Befana sul suo falò - aspetta solo il fiammifero!  
Altra prospettiva della Befana, con in fondo l'Arena.

Prima di arrivare a Verona, ci siamo fermati a Rivoli per fare delle foto del cappotto della Cami.

Ho fatto il cappotto con la carta modello (fuori stampa) Vogue V1320 del designer Issey Miyake. 

Inizialmente avevo proposto a Camilla di portarla a scegliere del tessuto nuovo, ma a lei andava bene questo tessuto che avevo già da tanti anni. E' un double-face. Da un lato c'è della lana verde-scuro molto pesante, dall'altro un lato di un tessuto scozzese, più leggero. Camilla voleva tenere solo questo lato per l'esterno. 

Ho attaccato l'imbottitura sul giogo, sul davanti, e attorno all'orlo - con dei punti non tanto fini!!!

Neanche la mia macchina da cucire è tanto fine. Era un regalo per il mio ventunesimo compleanno. Si, è un po' rumorosa, ma va ancora benissimo!

Sarebbe stato meglio applicare del rinforzo adesivo a tutti i pezzi del cappotto. Questo l'avrebbe stabilito bene. Invece ho stabilito solo il davanti, l'orlo ed il giogo. Ma il tessuto è molto pesante e ha tirato giù i lati e il retro.

Si vede pure che il tessuto non è del tutto liscio come dovrebbe essere. Questo è perché è vecchio. Non so in verità quanti anni ha, perché mi è stato regalato, ed è rimasto nella mia collezione di stoffe per molti anni. Comunque, col tempo, è deteriorato l'adesivo che unisce i due strati di tessuto per creare il double-face, e in certi punti del tessuto si sta aprendo per formare come delle bolle. 

In data 14 gennaio 1797, Napoleone, con le sue truppe, ha vinto la Battaglia di Rivoli contro l'Impero Austro-Ungarico, proprio qui. Nella foto si vede il Forte Wohlgemuth, costruito dagli Austro-Ungarici (visto che non so pronunciare wohlgemuth mi viene più facile chiamarlo il "Voldemort fort"!

Ho scelto un paio di cravatte per creare dei dettagli per l'interno del cappotto.

 Ho aggiunto un bordo decorativo sull'interno davanti, tra fodera e stoffa, e ho scelto di fare le chiusure con degli automatici giganti - anche loro ricoperti della stessa seta. Non osavo usare occhielli e bottoni: 1 perché la mia vecchia macchina non sarebbe capace di gestire così tanti spessi strati di stoffa e 2 perché non sono ancora capace di fare dei occhielli a mano.  

Mi piace tanto il design di questo cappotto. Il giogo e la parte superiore della manica che è tagliato allo sbieco sono belli e lo rendono molto comodo da indossare. Lo farò sicuramente ancora una volta per me stessa, e magari un'altra anche per la Cami. Comunque una cosa alla quale starò più attenta la prossima volta sarà la scelta della stoffa. Secondo me andrebbe benissimo una scuba. La stoffa che ho usato questa volta aveva il pregio di essere molto caldo; ma, era anche tanto pesante e, anche se so che sembra strano, la fatica nel maneggiarla mi ha stancata fisicamente.

La Cami è stata gentile e ha portato i capelli a coda di cavallo, in modo che si potessero vedere meglio i dettagli del cappotto, e il collo arrotolato al esterno ...  

Ma a questo punto mi ha supplicato di finire perché le si stavano congelando le orecchie.

Invece, quando siamo tornati al falò di Rivoli quella sera, Umberto voleva restare, perché le sue orecchie erano calde CALDE!

Questo Blog é pro-autismo,
Grazie Sally

7 January 2016

Burning the Befana and an Issey Miyake Coat

Christmas is Officially Over; The Old Befana has been Burnt

Umberto at the Burning of the Befana in Rivoli this evening
The Befana in Piazza Brà, in the heart of Verona
Camilla & Umberto in Piazza Brà
There's so much I'd like to say about the Italian tradition of burning the Befana on the evening of January 6th, but I'd also LOVE to press "publish" before midnight, and actually get a post out in perfect time for once :)

The tradition is a mix of ancient rural culture, folklore, superstition, and the Christian Feast of the Epiphany celebrating the arrival of the Three Wise Men. In modern Italy the 6th January is the last day of the Christmas holiday period. By 7th , the children are back at school and everything returns to "normal" - or normal enough, at least until Carnival.  So Cami, Umbi and I went into Verona this evening to see the preparations for this evening's bonfire, when an efigy of The Befana (which symbolizes the "old" year which finishes tonight) is burnt in the main square, Piazza Brà; also the site of the Roman Arena

Camilla was wearing the winter coat I'd made for her in October. She leaves home at 06.20 to be at school by 07.50, six mornings a week, and it can be very VERY cold here in winter, so it had to be incredibly warm.

The famous Clock sits high above the double archways which lead into the Piazza
The Roman Arena in the background
The iconic Stella Cometa is erected every Christmas season.  It "shoots" out of the centre of the arena to "land" in the Piazza

I'm wearing my good old Armani coat. Going strong since 1992

The Befana sits atop her bonfire - ready for someone to strike a match
Another perspective of the Befana, with the Arena in the background

Earlier on our way into Verona, we stopped in Rivoli village to catch the fading light for some photos of Cami's coat

The coat is out of print Vogue V1320, by Issey Miyake. 

I'd offered to take Cami shopping for fabric, but my thrifty little honey had said she wanted her coat made of this fabric from my stash. It's a double-face, very thick wool coating. She wanted it made with only the checked side showing. 

My very rudimentary pad-stitching.

My very rudimentary machine was a 21st birthday present. It's clunky, but it does the job.

I interlined the yoke and hem-line, and interfaced and interlined the centre fronts. This stabilized the borders of the coat, but the main fabric was so heavy it pulled the coat down and it bagged where it had been left "unfettered" by stabilizing. You can see how the hem hangs lower at the sides and back, than at the centre front. I would never have foreseen this problem given the sturdiness of the fabric, but in retrospect this would have been avoided if I had fused interfacing to all the main fabric pieces. Ah well ... you live and learn!

And the all over puckering of the fabric is sadly due to its great age. The adhesive joining the two layers of the double-face had deteriorated, and the thinner, checked layer had begun to lift away from the thicker dark-green wool layer. The fabric had been a gift from goodness knows where, and it had been in my stash for donkey's years. I've no idea exactly how old it was.  

Napoleon and his troops won the Battle of Rivoli here on January 14th 1797,  against the Austro-Hungarian empire. In the background is the Austro-Hungarian built, Fort Wohlgemuth. (I call it Voldemort as I have NO IDEA how to pronounce it)

I used a couple of beautiful ties from my HUGE collection to add some details

I added piping between the front facing and the lining (but my piping is flat ... without the "pipe". Wonder if it still passes as piping??) And covered jumbo snaps because I still have to master handmade buttonholes. My poor old machine wasn't up to tackling button-holes in all those layers.

I love the construction of this coat. The yoke and bias-cut upper sleeve are beautiful and comfortable to wear and I'll make it at least once more for myself; perhaps Cami would like another version too. But it was physically hard work to manage this particular fabric and, though it sounds unbelievable, heaving it around my work table, and through my machine actually tired me. So, I'll choose the next fabric carefully. I'm thinking scuba could work well for this!

Cami had kindly worn her hair in a ponytail, to better show off the hand sewn, swiss-roll style, rolled down collar.

But about here she asked if we could stop, as her ears were freezing off.

But Umberto didn't want to "stop"!  When we got back to the burning of the Befana in Rivoli, his ears were perfectly TOASTY!!!

Post Script
Darn it! I pressed "Publish" at exactly Midnight, so despite my efforts this didn't get published on January 6th after all  :(

This Blog is pro-autism,
Thank you, Sallyxx

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