Colette Hawthorn AKA Well, if everyone else is…..

A year or so ago you couldn’t move for Colette’s Hawthorn dress. I stubbornly refused to be drawn in and resisted the temptation to download it. But I eventually caved.

Colette Hawthorn

I’d done that thing where you get seduced by print in the fabric shop and before you know it you’ve taken a few metres home with no real plan for it other than look at it. So my fabric sat there getting stroked a few times but with no future. Enter Hawthorn.

Colette Hawthorn

 

I have to be honest and say that I had to make a load of adjustments to this pattern. The bust fit more or less OK but the back was huge, I had to mess about with the waist darts and ugh, the bust darts! Maybe I’m in denial about how shit my bras are or maybe I missed the part where my tits have migrated south * but, what the hell is up with Colette’s bust darts? The Sorbetto tops I’ve made had the same boob-strangling feature too.

*Disclaimer – I’m pretty sure they’re both where they should be.

I was a bit concerned the fabric combined with this kind of design would end up looking a bit twee but I think I managed to dodge that look. It definitely needs a belt though, possibly in a red or some other contrasting colour.

Final verdict. I like it and it’s nice to have something so traditionally feminine in my wardrobe. I’d make it again but in a block colour possibly even adding a short sleeve. I think I’m not used to having such full dresses but I’m happy for the change.

 

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Self-drafted Summer Jacket.

“Summer Jacket”. Summer. Jacket. Prior to moving to then UK I would’ve assumed a summer jacket was a cocktail, a condom or a euphemism for being naked apart from sun screen but, after 13 years here, I’ve faced the reality of the English summer now own a summer jacket.

Summer Jacket

 

For some reason I’d convinced myself that sewing a jacket would be a whole load of hassle for little reward but this wasn’t the case at all. Obviously, these garments can be as complicated as you want them to be but this was a pretty straightforward design so now, of course, I think I’m the Queen of Making Jackets or something equally as humble.

Summer Jacket

 

 

I drafted this myself using the over-garment block instructions as set out in Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting. It couldn’t have been easier. The fabric is a cotton from Goldhawk Road and, at 3 quid a metre, I wasn’t too worried about making expensive mistakes.The lining was salvaged from a top I started in January last year. I’d lost my mind and tried to make the Drape Drape Asymmetrical top in this synthetic. The static cling was just plain old foolish so I ended up throwing it to the bottom of my fabric stash but, suddenly, a revelation

- “it’s a lining fabric , you twat”.

 

And, it came to pass that my snakeskin print jacket was lined with blue leopard print lining. Just like in nature. A nature that has cotton snakes and blue, synthetic leopards. It was a bit of a head scratcher but, with a little creative thinking, I managed to get it fully lined.

There’s something very Sgt Peppers about it when it’s inside out. If you look closely, you’ll see where I had to add an extra panel under the armpit because I cut the armhole lining too large. No big deal, sometimes it doesn’t pay to be too precious about things. It was a solution to a problem and it’s not going to fall apart so fuck it. I added an extra piece of the shell at the shoulder to give it more shape and structure.

Summer Jacket

Despite looking like I’m about to burst into tears in the pic above, (it might have been all the marking I was working through) I really enjoy wearing this jacket. It was a joy to put together aqnd I learnt a lot. It’s become something I wear really frequently and I’m glad to have reprieve from the tyranny of cardigans.

Summer Jacket

I have to confess that last year I sewed the Victoria Blazer by By Hand London. It wasn’t quite right on me. My fabric choices were off for the design and I think I traced a size too big. However, the instructions took the fear out of lining, cuffs, lapels and bagging out so I learnt from the experience. I haven’t given up on my Victoria Blazer yet, I’m still tinkering with it and think I might add a couple of darts, maybe modify the lapels….

By Hand London Victoria Blazer

RocknRoll had to get involved of course. I was sure he was passed out on the sofa but any time I’m outside and especially when there’s a camera, he’ll be there.

I drafted this myself using the over garment block instructions as set out in Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting.

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Sewing the Sink the Pink Summer Ball. Part 2.

This is the second set of costumes I sewed for Sink the Pink’s Summer Ball on June 21st – Goddess.

Sink the Pink Summer Ball

Sink the Pink Summer Ball

 Goddess was the second category (or theme) of the ball and the brief was “gold, white, floaty, Showgirls, there is no such thing as too much”. I loved, loved loved, making these. 

Jess. Fringe Goddess.

Here’s Kierah as Fringe Goddess. I think I took longer untangling this than I did sewing it together but, fuck that, it was worth it. I’d originally planned for the fringe to extend all the way along her arm but it wasn’t practical with the choreography. She worked really made this work and she’s so damn cute. 

Raven. Goddess of Wearing Not Much.

 

 

 

Maybe I’m stretching the definition of costume here but, come on, he looks fantastic. He also had to do a lot of lifting and flipping of another dancer. To avoid people getting tangled in sequins, it came down to pants, gloves and make-up. What you can’t see in this photo (or onstage) was that his arms were getting a bit Incredible Hulk on those gloves. 

Ted, Goddess of Sequins.Sink the Pink Summer Ball

Ted had to lift as well and I was a bit worried the cape would get tangled but these guys know exactly what they’re doing. 

 

Jess. Godd-jess.

I especially enjoyed working on this one. I added lots of handsewn details and, to be honest, I wasn’t sure when it was done, I was happy to keep working on it forever

Chester, Lampshade Goddess

The Lampshade, I stuffed it, watched a rehearsal, panicked, took the stuffing out. It looked deflated and sad, stuffed it again and it worked. Chester had to sacrifice a bit of armpit hair in order to keep it on but he’s a trooper.

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I think the Kiss I was listening to at the time inspired this one. I’d padded it but once it was on, it looked like a disco American Football outfit. Unstuffed and cut right back, it looked much better.

rehearsal

Even with socks on, they made these looked good.

Rehearsal

 

 

 

 

But in context, things always look better.

 

 

 

 

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Burda drape top dress hack

I really like the clean lines on this Burda wrap blouse and whipped up a sleeveless muslin thinking I’d have to make a load of adjustments. But to my surprise it fit perfectly so I set about using the pattern to draft a dress. Cat photobomb as per usual, Jack can’t seem to get enough of the camera.

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This is a basic bodice with bust darts, darts at the back and waist with a flared skirt I drafted thanks to Metric Pattern Cutting.

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I lengthened the drape on the front and adjusted it until I was happy with where it fell. The drape means the bodice becomes the facing along the neckline, bonus!

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I really like the boxy top with matching skirt detail that I keep seeing around. The idea of having a top that ends right at the smallest part of the waist is great but I haven’t really embraced high-waisted skirts or shorts so, for me, not really that wearable. The drape on the front of my dress was intended as a nod to that type of silhouette but a bit more everyday. I’d like to use a stiffer fabric next time to exaggerate it a bit more.

I seem to have hit the Princess Diana at the Taj Mahal stage with my fringe so maybe next time I’ll make something worthy of a dance with John Travolta.

Fabric from Goldhawk Road.

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Sewing the Sink the Pink Summer Ball. Part 1

It’s been almost a month since the Sink the Pink Summer Ball but only now can I finally find the words to describe the whole experience.

Rehearsal at the Troxy, East London

Rehearsal at the Troxy, East London

It was a lot like falling in love. With the people involved, the whole Sink the Pink philosophy and just the opportunity to be completely consumed by colour and fabric and sewing. And I don’t think I’ve ever been more content. It was a blast, it was amazing, the show itself was beyond anything I’ve ever seen let alone been part of. I learnt so much and met so many talented, wonderful people.

The Troxy, backstage ceiling detail

The Troxy, backstage ceiling detail

I was sewing primarily for the 6 dancers but I made a few pieces for Glyn and Amy as well as a number of extra bits like gloves, headpieces etc. On top of the 6 dancers there were about forty drag performers/dancers/artistes, a number of group performances and a few solos. I honestly couldn’t tell you how many, there were also many designers and a lot of brilliant set, props and costume people.

Onto the costumes. I’ll split these over a few posts so here we go. First category was East London tribal something something. The set was swathes and swathes of that amazing wax print cotton so in keeping with that – 6 dancers too good-looking to cover up.

Sink the Pink Summer Ball

Left to Right, Backstage with Ted, Joe, Chester, Jess, Kierah, Raven. Make up by Guy Common.

Honestly, phwoar. They’re so cute so why gild a lily, right? This is elastic, fabric-covered foam pieces and RTW pants – I ain’t sewing plain pants when I can buy them.

Sink the Pink Summer Ball.I learnt that a bread knife cuts through foam quite well but if you really want to get stuck in, an electric knife is a dream. I didn’t get a chance to use one but I appreciate the tip thanks Rob at Sew Amazing, you’ve always got great advice.

Sink the Pink Summer Ball

These looked great onstage. Nice and clean and sharp but they took quite a while and used more elastic than I expected. I had to experiment with the leg straps as the first design was garotte-tastic and all manner of testicle-strangling. Funny in the fitting but not so funny after three songs dancing around onstage. The dancers said it’d be fine and they had no complaints but I just couldn’t leave them cleft in twain like that. The solution was tougher elastic on the horizontal, softer on the vertical and a harness type design around the legs. It worked a treat. Speaking of treats….

Sink the Pink Summer BallHe wears it well. These cubes were straightforward but pretty time-consuming to make. Cut the foam, cut the fabric, stitch the elastic on, stitch up fabric, stuff foam in (swear, curse, this really hurts your hands after a while), hand-stitch closed (god help me) repeat. The main thing was making sure they’d stay on while these guys got stuck into the choreography. And, apart from one instance which was saved by quick thinking on Kierah’s part, they did.

Sink the Pink Summer Ball.

Sink the Pink Summer Ball.

Opening number, to MIA’s XR2. Choreography by Jono Kitchens. Great choreographer and absolute sweetheart a sweetheart too. I’ll get round to the other costumes later next week but, til then, more pics on my Instagram and over on the Sink the Pink website.

 

 

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Yes Cinderella, you shall go to the Sink the Pink Summer Ball. And I’m confident you’ll look fantastic.

I am lucky enough to be working for the wonderful people at Sink the Pink London making costumes for the inaugural Summer Ball. It’s only the official launch of Pride Week in London, it’s only a 3,000-person venue. They’ve only gone and got the Venga Boys and Kiesza to perform.

It’s very, very exciting.

No doubt, I’ve been unfollowable on twitter lately as I’ve been posting out of context photos of various pieces I’ve made and, as I’ve pretty much been sewing all day and night, I’m pretty sure I’ve almost lost the ability to converse. It’s an absolute blast though and I haven’t had this much fun in ages. I don’t want to reveal too much but here are some of the things I’ve been swearing at lately. Keep in mind these are all going to be worn by some beautiful dancers who make these things look better than I hoped. (Thank you Joe, Kiera, Chester, Ted, Raven and Jess)

Lots of handsewn detail because I have delusions of being couture (and, apparently, I am a masochist).

Headpieces.

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I made this around 1:30 this morning. It made sense at the time.

 

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I’m trying to use every scrap of fabric I have. Not least because I need to clear some space in my flat!

Bringing out the big guns for this one.

Bringing out the big guns for this one.

 Capes

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Curse you, sequins!

 

Some of the other capes are in the previous post but at last count, I’ve made about 8.

Other bits of fabulous.

"No, I'm Sparkle Tits!" Ben Hur, the sequin-remake.

“No, I’m Sparkle Tits!”
Ben Hur, the sequin-remake.

I actually really like how this looks like a pair of lips here. Luckily this is stretch sequin, cross stitched so no unravelling. A bit of a bitch to use in the machine but I found a way round that.

Disco Car Wash

Disco Car Wash

 

The colour has come out terrible here but you get the idea. Ribbon outfit, arm pieces (ala Randy Savage as someone on twitter pointed out), head piece. You may also notice my McGyver skills with fashioning an arm out of two wooden spoons and a coat hanger.

There are five days til the show and 4 days til dress rehearsal. About two weeks ago, I was ready to chuck everything onto a bonfire (it’d be a pretty quick bonfire since most of these costumes are made of flammable). It was the “OH GOD, IT’S ALL FUCKING TERRIBLE!” stage, which usually hits at the half way point. After going to a rehearsal and watching the dancers in some of the pieces, I felt so much better. I was so excited I probably could’ve cried. But this is no time for crying, I still need to carve up and cover a load of foam pieces, take things in, let things out, glue things on, etc, etc, etc…

Disco Laundry.

Disco Laundry.

 

It’s all very, very blindingly sparkly and everywhere I turn I find an errant pin or sequin. But the best bit of sparkle happened on my birthday.

 

And I’m not talking about my nail polish ; )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On The Sewing Table. Or, Why My Flat Looks Like an Earth, Wind and Fire Rehearsal.

Last year, I had the pleasure of sewing a bit of set for the wonderful people who are Sink the Pink London. I’m pretty sure you’ve seen my 6-foot vagina already but here’s the link if you are yet to see it.

This year, on June 21st, Sink the Pink (STP) are holding a Summer Ball and I’m making about 18 costumes for their dancers. I’m simultaneously crapping myself in trepidation and excited beyond reason.

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As you can see, it’s pretty bloody sparkly. STP’s up-coming ball is a slightly new direction for the club but inevitable given how much it’s grown. If you’re familiar with Paris is Burning, it’s that kind of ball. But with a very STP angle. It’ll be at the Troxy, a huge, beautiful venue which can hold 3,000. 3,000 people, you can see why I’m slightly nervous. My part in this is to make outfits for 6 dancers in 3 different numbers. I’m going to hold off posting the full costumes til they’re done and in the proper context (make up, hair, etc) but here’s a sneak preview.

Category is . . . .Goddess.

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It took a bit of planning and messing about with fabric but I’m just about done.

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Second category is . . . Club Kid Couture.

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Still in early stages but I’ve got the concept sorted.

Third category is . . . .

Nowhere near complete. Or started. But these are the notes I took from a meeting.

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With luck, I’ll have enough time to finish a ribbon dress as well! I’m having a blast making this stuff, there’s nothing else I’d rather do.

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