Tuesday, March 27, 2012

España Bound

The first time I traveled to Europe, when I was 19 years old, I remember having an irrational fear of gypsies. It's those guide books, I tell you! They devote whole chapters to the art of gypsy pickpocketing, which consequently makes young American girls feel as though, if they don't have a money belt slipped down between their underpants and their low-rise jeans, they'll find themselves penniless and passport-less in a train depot in middle-of-nowhere Tuscany. On the train from Paris to Rome, I remember waking up in our sleeper car throughout the night, and each time I woke up I was dreaming of gypsies.

Flash forward 15 years and I am still finding myself scared of gypsies! This time I blame Rick Steves, who wrote my current guide to paranoia in Spain. (Did you know that there are gypsies who will ride by your car on a scooter and reach in through your open window to steal your bag while you're stopped at an intersection? Thanks a lot, Rick Steves! Is nowhere safe??)

To that end, as I have been preparing for this trip to Spain, which I am about to embark on in just a few short hours, I have spent many an hour looking for the perfect pickpocket-proof bag. And when none of the bags in the shops met my qualifications, I decided I had to make my own. It needed to cross over my chest (no purse-snatchers for me!) and have a zipper, of course. And it needed to be made from a lightweight material so at the end of the day I don't feel like I've been carrying bricks. And it needed to feel happy--but not too happy--so I chose this tribal print for the outside of the bag, and a happy yellow for the inside.
I must say, I was very pleased with my zipper work! Actually, I have a confession to make: I had never installed a zipper before this one. And an even bigger confession: Before installing the zipper, I consulted my Reader's Digest Sewing Book--the be-all-end-all of sewing technique guides--and the diagrams and whatnot for how to install a zipper kind of gave me a headache, so I just sort of winged it. No idea if I did this right. But I like how the patterns on the panels line up on either side of the zipper, so that was cool!
But my vacation sewing didn't end with the bag. In a less paranoid sewing moment, I also decided I needed a new tunic, so I whipped up this little halter. Though I've never been to southern Spain, I do have a funny feeling that these colors and this print and the weave of the fabric is how it will feel. Close to Morocco, but not quite, and with floral swirls and punchy reds that have a sort of flamenco clickety-clack-with-a-rose-between-your-teeth kind of feel. But who knows if this is true...I'll let you know how it actually was when I'm back!
I tried to go out in the backyard to take a photo of myself wearing the tunic, but the dog was jumping around at my feet, and the light setting was all wrong, and then the upstairs neighbor in our apartment building opened the window and his little 5-year-old son said "Hi Wiana! Hi doggy!", and, well, that's hardly a time to continue taking glamour shots of yourself out in the backyard. But then I decided that blown-out photos can actually be quite kind, and so I share this little photo (note that I'm also wearing my gypsy-proof purse), with promises of more photos to come when we return. Adios for a bit, my friends. See you in April!


  1. Two lovely projects.

    I think I was almost as excited as you were today!


  2. Liana, this is so bizarre--I was actually thinking of asking you to make me a very, very similar bag to this one. I've been wanting a tribal-print hobo and I can't find the right one!

    Have a great trip!

  3. You're already gone, but whatever, have a great trip, you kids! I bet you're making gypsy friends at this very moment.

  4. FWIW, I am Spanish, nearly 50, and I have never been the victim of pickpocketing.

  5. ... and I forgot to add, that I have the bad habit of walking around with my cross-over-bag unzipped!

    1. What is actually hilarious is that I DID get pickpocketed on that trip despite my zippered bag...in a subway in Barcelona while I was carrying all of my luggage up the stairs. The person was very sneaky, but luckily my husband was able to stop him and get my wallet back, and lots of older ladies surrounded the thief and yelled at him in Spanish. It was quite a sight! It's interesting, though...the thieves must only prey on tourists. I live in New York City and take the subway several times a day and I hardly ever think about zipping my bag or keeping my possessions in check. I have never once been pickpocketed in NYC, nor has anyone I know. But the poor tourists, they're the ones who get it. Fascinating, the difference between being a local and a visitor!