A few weeks before Christmas, while some of the world is celebrating Thanksgiving and others are lighting candles through Advent, the city of Geneva, in Switzerland, celebrates L’Escalade. What has this got to do with owls, I hear you say? Patience, patience…
Escalader means to climb: in this case it refers to the failed attempt by the neighbouring Savoyards (now mostly part of France) to climb up the walls of the city in 1602, and take over. I suspect nobody thought much about this for centuries. But at the beginning of the 20th Century, at a time of fevered identity politics across the European Continent, this was turned into A Big Thing. Geneva heroically resisted the nasty invaders! In true Swiss fashion, this was also turned into a good excuse to eat more chocolate: this time in the shape of a cauldron filled with marzipan vegetables. Well, you see, the city just might have been saved by a lady throwing soup down the walls onto the invaders. Or not.
In Protestant Geneva, with no official carnival in the Spring, this has now turned into an excuse for a great big party. One weekend before, there is a huge and popular running race (La Course de l’Escalade). I took part this year — having taken no time to train or even really vaguely jog. 5km seems very long, up and down the hills of the city, when you aren’t used to it. Still, I did go faster than about 15 people in my age category… out of over 1000. Hey! That is still faster than all those who didn’t take part, I tell myself. Little Miss R, fired on by her friends, did rather better in her age category.
When the real day comes, the true fun begins. Children dress up, local folks parade by torchlight in the old town dressed in medieval costumes, with horses, guns and canons. It is 1602 all over again. Minus the plague, mess, smells, deaths, and general nastiness. And this means that, at the end of a mad teaching term, it suddenly dawns on tired parents that their child needs a dressing-up costume to go to school… by next morning. What is a quilter to do, after a long day at work?
In desperation, I grabbed Miss R’s owl dress, and threw together some wings using a precious piece of material, grabbed a suitably-coloured jersey knitted by Grandma, and printed a free owl mask off the internet. Tadaaaa!
I just safety-pinned the wings along the sleeves once she was dressed, allowing Miss R enough movement to work all day at school, while maintaining her ability to fly when necessary.
Printed off for free here, and stuck onto a piece of cardboard, with thin elastic to fix.
Isn’t this just the best use of this fabulous fabric? This was a quarter-yard strip, with light cotton batting, brown on the other side. I just cut the wing shape to make the most of the strip, sewed round it having spray-basted the batting to one side. Then fixed the lot, including the turning hole, by stitching round the edge. Hey-ho (or hooo-hooo) an owl in less than half an hour!
She was thrilled!
I am linking this up to Finish it up Friday at the ever-creative Crazy Mom’s. Her finish for this week matches the colours of this costume perfectly, amusingly.
If you want inspiration to finish impossibly-ambitious Christmas gifts, you might check out my Tutorial page. I do so love quick projects…
Happy flying! JJ