Saturday, July 31, 2010

Another one flew over

Another year flew over and here I am a year older and still feeling like a brand new coin.
A great 'consolation' is that the parties are getting better and better, as are the presents for that matter.
I loved being pampered and wishes being fulfilled. As for you who are wondering my age I have been 33 for quite a while now (don't rush now to check up my profile info!)
The celebration included a dinner, a bumper car ride, couple of drinks in a popular and hence overcrowded cafe by the lake which offered a live rock band gig (fabulous) and fire(works) performance (fantastic) which was a great closure of the day!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Romantic umbrella

This umbrella is one of the things I bought myself while in Italy.
When I saw it I knew I had to have it! As a matter of fact my husband was the one who noticed it first and knew I'll succumb to its seducing powers. How could I not?
It is intricately, richly and finely embroidered. And soo romantic!

What's more, it proved to be a great sun blocker and I loved walking the streets of Palermo carrying it.
When Eva saw it she fell in love with it! And she bagged me to make some pictures with it.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fabric carnation tutorial

You may remember my flowery bouquet I made a while ago. Making these carnations is quite simple and rewarding. Well, here's the tutorial.

You need light jersey with a lot of elastic in it for better looks and stretch for that matter.

Cut a long, thin strip. I had a metre of the jersey but in order to make the strip longer I cut all around it without stopping and the above piece has about 3,70 metres. The longer the strip, the thicker the flower. Remember, it should be about 1 or 2 cm wide.

Start wrapping it around your hand. While doing it, pull the strip tightly.
Jersey tends to curl up and that would add up to the looks of the flowers and make them more beautiful.

Here it is all rolled up.

Take it off carefully and holding it firmly tie a knot around it with a previously cut short strip.

When it is secured. Cut the upper part.

Like this.

Here's what it looks like. Cut the strips on the other side too.

Now, some of the "petals" will be bigger than others so here you do a little trimming until you make them all even.

A break in the steps for comparison. Here you can see what you'll get if you use a slightly wider and shorter piece of fabric (the pink one being a sturdier cotton).

When you finish trimming both sides, the flower will be left with the middle exposed, so you have to fix that too. Start by pulling the little strips to the other side but not very strongly because if the tie is not tight enough you might pull the strips off, and you also roll them up in your hands to get a nice round flower.

And ta-dah! Here it is!

Now you can take a bamboo stick (plastic stem, or whatever you come up with) insert it inside and make yourself a lovely flower.

And with a couple more of them you can make a bouquet :)

Or you can take a pin and make a brooch as shown in the intro picture.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Escape to wilderness

Before our trip we promised the children to take them camping on an isolated beach after we return and we kept our promise. Although it was a "2-days only" adventure, we had loads of fun.

Enjoyed swimming in the lake and the water was incredible. Stayed in for hours. And made a lot of pictures to bring back to life the memories we made there when looking at them in winter.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Siracuse dress

I made this dress just before we left on holiday. The design was not so important as were the details. Having this light-weight, pretty simplistic fabric in texture and appearance I decided to use these lovely velvet ribbons I had, combined with an array of embroidered flowers decorating one side/edge of the dress.

I had an idea of making the bodice with straps that would tie behind the neck and when I tried it I didn't like how it fitted me (my shoulders looked enormous), so I used the remaining ribbons as straps (more as a detail) and I tied the existing dress straps up front. I added ribbons at the waist and at the hem of the dress.

Although I had a draft sketch of the flowers on paper, in the end I made a free-hand drawing of the embroidery and I am immensely satisfied of the ultimate result.

I named it the Syracuse dress because the colours of the flowers reminded me of the beautiful, picturesque, floral scenery of Syracuse, where the pictures are taken. And the other reason is that I finished the embroidery there. The location is our breathtaking hotel Villa Maria Polliti.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Museo de Marionettes

We have been having such great time travelling across Sicilia and visiting places that I have had almost no time updating this blog with our little adventure. Beside that, the Internet at the hotels is as slow as an old lady when it comes to uploading pictures - it throws me in misery!
However, as a person highly interested in puppet making (although I make them out of fabric and paper) I've been wanting to write a post about this gorgeous and one of a kind Puppet Museum we saw in Palermo. It's called Museo Internazionale delle Marionette and it houses about puppets, marionettes, glove-puppets, shadow figures, items of scenery and posters.

The rooms of the museum generously welcomed the characters of puppet theatres of many countries so here we saw traditional marionettes from Northern Italy, other European countries and other continents. There were Greek and Turkish shadow figures, African marionettes from Mali, Congo and Benin, Vietnamese water marionettes, Japanese, Chinese and Indian shadows, marionettes and rod puppets.

My favourite:

The Old Man

The Policeman

The Thief

The Sicilian Pupi Theatre is very popular and active in Italy and we could see ticket stands for it everywhere. We also encountered several workshops and the puppet makers were so generous to let us have a peek inside and shoot some pictures. The only thing I grieve about the most is that I didn't buy myself Pinnochio. I kept postponing doing that so on the final day I couldn't find any shops that sold it. We have a couple of days left here so I'm still hopeful.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

What does every seamstress need?

I believe every self-assured, vintage inspired seamstress needs a Singer sewing machine!

This one however, lost hope of her sewing skills :)
Nevertheless, I nice way to repurpose it!

Taken on Via Vitorio Emanuelle
Wedding favours shop

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Palazzo dei Normanni

Palazzo dei Normanni is a Palace that takes one’s breath away. It was started in the 9th century by the Emir of Palermo and extended in the 12th century by Ruggero II d’Altavilla and other Norman kings.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have access to all the floors and rooms since the Parliament was in session when we visited.


However, what we saw was really breathtaking. On the ground floor next to the impressive staircase we were greeted by a Chariot settled in a glass casing. It reminded me of all the stories I’ve read about the aristocracy. It was really amazing with its wondrous craftsmanship.

On the second floor was the Capella Palatina. It represents one of the highest examples of coexistence of different cultures, religions and philosophies. Ruggero II (or Roger II) employed Latin, Byzantine, Jewish and Arabic craftsmen for its construction. The wonderful mosaics, the intricately carved wooden roof, elaborately fretted and painted, and the marble incrustation of the lower part of the walls and the floor are incredible and truly unique. 

On the ground floor we visited the gallery that hosted an exhibition by contemporary Italian artists. The Gallery is placed in the space that running through a narrow corridor becomes the famous Dungeon that runs underneath the great courtyard. Its construction resembling a labyrinth is interesting leading to the barren, stone-walled, square-shaped cells.

The corridors on the other side house the exhibition cases displaying, for the first time, the liturgical vestments of Capella Palatina, known for their precious gold and silver brocades. 

Mitra (head piece) and a braided belt.

Liturgical trousers.

Capes and cloaks.

The corridors lead to the church Santa Maria delle Grazie, also called Inferior Church because it is exactly underneath the Palatina. I couldn’t describe the feeling once inside. We happened to be all alone, left to ourselves to freely explore every corner.

The solitude, quietness and the beauty of the church inside were priceless and the marble altar along with the sculptures remarkable. Truly adding to the overall, unforgettable experience.