Sewing the Colette Sorbetto. A totally out of season sewing post.

I thought I better post something that’s not a peacock or a lycra snake lest I give the impression I wander round dressed like a one-woman pantomime. Although when I think about it, that could be a really fun idea and would at least keep me warm….it might just happen.

Here’s something that I probably spend more time ironing than wearing.

Of all the free sewing downloads, I like the Colette Sorbetto. It’s a nice blank slate to use as a bodice block. I’ve only ever made the Hawthorn dress from Colette and, as sweet as it is, it’s not really me. But, it did teach me a lot thanks to the sew-along posts.


I can see the fit issues in this orange top even with my eyes closed. Darts too high, too tight and the placement of that blue flower on the right could’ve been better thought out. But, you win some, you lose some, it’s still wearable so I can live with that.

This is another version I made up last year and never got round to posting. I made binding for it and all, wore it til it fell apart and never bothered to get a decent photo of it.


It took me ages to use these fabrics, I got them on a trip to Australia and, if memory serves, my nonna bought them for me. I guess I was saving them for something special but then I figured I should use them on something I’d wear more frequently. The print’s loud but they make me happy.


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Sewing the Kung Fu Panda Costumes. Snake. Part 3 of 3.

The final costume I made for Magical Quests Kung Fu Panda event was Snake. Here she is hanging out in my  flat with Master Shifu on a Saturday night. As you do.

Kung Fu Panda

Snake was a bit of a head-scratcher design-wise. Have you seen Kung Fu Panda? Snake is, well, a snake. No legs, arms none of that so I had to get creative and interpret that into a human shape. I started with the hood, which would cover the head and neck, and worked my way down.

As you can see, I erred on the side of caution and cut the face hole (that’s the technical word, I’m sure) far too small at first. It gave me a chance to take some silly pictures too, unexpected bonus.

I got it right eventually and added a binding and snake print strip that I extended down the back.

Snake. Kung Fu Panda costume

After taking these photos I made the end of the snake print strip into a forked-tongue at the back.

The main part of the costume is basically a tunic made of different lycras. There was only a certain amount of snake print so I had to find a way to eke it out so it’d cover the front. Luckily, there’s a belt which covers the join so I don’t feel too bad about that. I must have stared at that print for ages trying to figure out how to make it work. At one point I’d convinced myself it was, in fact, leopard print. I think I have a problem where everything looks like leopard if I stare too long. “If you stare into the abyss, a leopard stares back into you”. Or something.

To finish it off, I added lotus flowers to the hood and made long, fingerless gloves.

Rocknroll approved.

I wish I’d taken more photos of snake but below is a shot of the actual event, complete with Panda on the left (I did not make that one though!)


The Lord Shen costume I made is over here and Master Shifu is here.


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Sewing the Kung Fu Panda costumes. Lord Shen. Part 2 of 3.

This is a costume for Kung Fu Panda’s Lord Shen, albino peacock, evil genius and pretty swish in the sartorial stakes. In fact, it’s kind of obligatory for all evil characters to look impeccable  (struggling to resist impeckable pun there).  Last month I made three costumes for Magical Quests, a company that hosts events and plays, and this particular show was a children’s party based around Kung Fu Panda. The Master Shifu costume I made is over here.

Lord Shen

For reference here’s Lord Shen as he is in the film. Pretty impressive, right? I had to find a way to interpret this look within the time and performance constraints. Much like the Master Shifu and Snake headdresses, this was built around a tight-fitting lycra hood and one celebratory can of Polish lager, austerity times.

I look a bit like a novice nun in this picture. Almost.

Lord Shen

I added chiffon “feathers”, covering the head and down the neck and finally a crest of red and white feathers. The whole thing is secured by ties that join under the chin.

Lord Shen

I didn’t want to take it off. It sure made the daily “what the hell are you doing?” conversation with my hair easier.

Kung Fu Panda

The last part was a cape of white and red “feathers” which was worn over an existing gown. To make this I used white chiffon with a scalloped hem and layered red chiffon over the top. At one point the scallops looked a bit bosomy. Fun and disturbing but not exactly Scary Kung Fu Peacock.

I unboobed the hem and it was OK.

Kung Fu Panda

That cat’s always gotta be involved.

Lord Shen

Here’s my best Queen Victoria in negative pose.

Lord Shen

Truth be told, I’d never even seen Kung Fu Panda 2 before this came up. But peacocks? I’d seen plenty of those at university and that’s not even a euphemism. Sounds idyllic right?The little entitled bastards would crap everywhere and screech throughout exams and lectures all day long.  I didn’t even need to watch the film to know they had a nasty streak.

Thank you Master Shifu for taking these photos.

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Sewing the Kung Fu Panda Costumes. Master Shifu.

In early September I put together three costumes for a Kung Fu Panda themed event. These were for a Magical Quests, a theatrical event company, who were hosting a pretty elaborate children’s party and I had 8 days to design, source fabric and get them ready. It was bags of fun. This post is dedicated to Master Shifu, red panda and all round font of wisdom in the Kung Fu Panda series.

Master Shifu. Kung Fu Panda costume

For this outfit I made five pieces, the robe, belt, gloves, a tail and headpiece. I had a very patient fitting model, he was quite attached to the costume by the end of the process and very sad to see it go.

Master Shifu. Kung Fu Panda Costume

The headpiece was tight lycra hood covered in faux fur, it extended down the neck and tucked into the robe. The ears were the most time-consuming but once I’d figured out the shape I wanted, it came together easily.

The ears are a lycra base, covered in faux fur and stuffed with wadding. I inserted a piece of wire to hold the ear’s shape, taking care to secure the ends to avoid unintentional trepanning. The ears were then handstitched to the hood and finally, I covered the rest of the hood in faux fur. You can probably tell, I was pretty happy when it worked out. I didn’t really want to take it off.

I spent a lot of time looking at red pandas online. So sweet, so unconcerned with how they look because they are so damn cute.

Kung Fu Panda. Master Shifu

The gloves and tail were fun to make. I used cotton gardening gloves and covered them in faux fur. I considered making nails but I was unsure how much the performer wearing this would need to use his hands so I decided against it. One of the things the director of the show had stressed was the importance of not letting the illusion slip by making the gloves too short. I agree with her. I extended the gloves all the way up to the elbow, that way you won’t get a glimpse of skin up the sleeve and undo the red panda magic.

The tail tail attaches to a belt and I designed it so it could attach in different ways for later shows. I think I did more hoovering than actual sewing when it came to the tail! Faux fur, huh? My love for it only just outweighs my hatred of housework.

To make the robe I used a heavy cotton with highlights of gold at the cuffs and on the belt. Instead of using a pattern I traced round an existing men’s shirt and got stuck in. The robe has slits at the side seams, so walking is easier, and at the back to allow the tail some freedom, it wraps round and is secured with ties. Without the belt, it’s basically a glorified, Kung Fu-ified bathrobe. But, in context, it’s red panda appropriate attire.


Action shots.

We had so much fun taking these photos.



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The Knitting and Stitching Show.

This evening I went to the Knitting and Stitching show. I have to admit when I first heard about it last year I assumed it’d all be tea cosies and rocking chairs, it wasn’t. The skills of knitting or stitching are something that I appreciate but it was just three words Knitting and Stitching Show put together. It just seemed so plainly descriptive and functional. I’m going to have to kick myself now for not going last year because I just spent 4 hours there and was one of the last to leave. The level of skill and creativity in Alexandra Palace tonight was incredible. It was awesome.

Here are some of my absolute favourite pieces and exhibitions.

Black Sheep, the Darker Side of Felt.

You probably guessed, all of these pieces are made of felt.

So much drama and pageantry in these Horst Couture garments. It was a tough choice but that red one really got to me. I love the tendrils.

Beautiful and unsettling animal headdresses by Barbara Keal.

Barbara Keal IMG_7760

Bear Skulls by Stephanie Metz.

These were an interesting conflict and slightly disturbing. They read as teddy bear skulls rather than real bears and they’re even complete with teeth. There’s a piece you’re permitted to touch and I was surprised to find they were really hard. There’s a constant readjustment of expectation that I really enjoyed.

Alas poor Yorick….etc..

Seven Deadly Sins by Rachel Olin. Guess which one this is.

Rachel Olin


More felt and lots of vagina. I’m big on vagina soft sculpture, I mean I have my very own and I’ll get it out at any opportunity, so this was a standout favourite.

I had a really fun chat to Yulia Badian and she told me a little about some of her techniques behind this magic. The interior texture of the pieces on the left (the mini minges?) was created from a mould of s starfish. A lot of the work in this exhibition is based on the sea and sex. The merkins on the right and middle had me in stitches with names like “wedding night skin” and “salmon sushi skin”. Just watching other people react to this art was an experience in itself. Go and say hello to Yulia, you can’t miss her. Bright pink hair and really welcoming.

Felt vagina. I keep think about the words. Felt. Unfelt….etc ….stop laughing at the back!

Moving on to wool.

Denise Salway knitted an amazing Lord of The Rings coat, complete with Peter Jackson figure and Golem detail. I had a chat with her briefly and she was loads of fun. A very talented and creative individual.

There was so much beautiful inspiring artwork there I could write reams. It was all so inspiring that I can barely sit still. I just want an excuse to start making something, something huge, something I can get stuck into and work on and be totally consumed by.

My photos don’t really do these works justice so if you’re thinking of going, just go. There’s lots to keep you entertained and the atmosphere is fantastic and welcoming.


Thanks Knitting and Stitching Show, I loved it so much, I’m going back on Saturday.

I’ve tried to credit the work as carefully as possible and I asked permission to take photographs but if, for any reason, I’ve made an error, let me know, I’ll happily fix it or remove an image.

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Recyling and upcycling. A striped jersey dress AKA “Ow, my eyes”

One of the first things I posted on here was the Drape Drape Asymmetrical Top. Apart from the binding, it’s a pretty quick, non-fiddly sew.

Drape Drape topIn retrospect, I might have cut it a bit too large but nevermind, I loved it and wore it to bits. About a year ago, I used up the rest of that striped jersey and made this dress.

Jersey Dress


After the love affair for that dress faded, I ended up upcycling the two and ending up with this.

Upcycled Jersey Dress


I was going to crop this so you couldn’t tell I was barefoot but it looked all wrong. I don’t wear shoes when I’m off duty. It makes it easier for me to step on nettles and upturned plugs and things.

Upcycled Jersey Dress

Seriously, nettles? Every year I forget they even exist and end up hopping round trying to remember what a dock leaf looks like so I can stop the stinging. Nettles. What kind of country has friendly spiders and vicious flora? My Australian brain struggles with this every year. Nettles, they’re like immobile spiders.

Upcycled Jersey Dress


Since the top part/bodice came from the dress above, the only tricky bit was finding a way to make the remaining fabric stretch to the skirt piece. I gave up on the idea of having the stripes going in any kind of harmonious direction and just let it happen. The only thing I wanted was an asymmetrical V at the front, like a yoke.  Of all the things I’ve made, this is one of the things I wear the most. I works in warmer weather, with tights, I don’t have to iron it or hand wash it or even iron it. And I think I’ve made it clear that I HATE IRONING.

Word  press tells me, via a little trophy icon, that this is my 2 year anniversary of keeping this blog. The Drape Drape top was the very first thing I wrote about in 2012, in the summer of 2013 I posted this mini dress and now, in 2014, there’s this.

Jack was impressed with the commitment to black and white stripes. Or shocked. Or maybe just hungry….

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Sewing the Sink The Pink Summer Ball Costumes. An overview of all the bits with video.

Sewing all these costumes for Sink the Pink’s Summer Ball was a blast. And this is the last installment for this gig, I swear. This was one of the biggest sewing projects I’ve ever had and one of the most fun. I still can’t quite believe it all happened. But it did.


In a previous post I mentioned that context was the key to appreciating garments and creative work. So, in the spirit of contextualising what the hell I’ve been banging on about these past months, I’m adding youtube footage of the Sink the Pink Summer Ball. Enjoy, I did.

Sink the Pink Summer Ball

Opening act, 6 harness and cube costumes for the dancers. They’re down the front at the beginning of the clip. Song – XR2 by MIA.

Same costumes. Song – Satin Sheets sung by Glynfamous. And look at that headdress by Ivan Dauriz.

And again, Britney Spears’ Slave For You. Be warned, big snake. Big, big snake. Not a euphemism (for once).

Moving on to the Goddess theme. 6 individual Goddess Costumes for the 6 dancers.


Plus sequinned top and pants for AmyZing, centre front. And an extra cape (below) which I think was worn by Ness Abbot. Please note the McGyver Skillz I employed in creating “arms” for my tailor’s dummy


This one had lots of very dynamic choreography to consider. The guy centre front, in the Statue of Liberty headdress, is the choreographer Jonno Kitchens. He’s a talented, lovely and wickedly funny human who can teach pretty much anyone to dance in nosebleed heels. In fact, he put this costume together from bits of left over set.

Chester. Sweetheart.

Chester. Sweetheart.

If you’ve every thought about going to a Sink the Pink night, go. You’ll fit in because the whole concept of fitting in or being part of the “in crowd” is redundant. Just go. Turn up in a suit, in a graduation gown and mortarboard, in jeans and a t-shirt, in your pyjamas, in someone else’s pyjamas, whatever -wear it all at once if you feel like it. Just go, bring an open mind and an open heart and give yourself a chance to let go.

And if your shoes are falling off (like A Man to Pet’s) find me. I’ll probably be around and I’m bound to have something to patch them back together.

Too long didn’t read? Watch this.


More detailed posts over here if you can handle me banging on some more.

Harness costumes

Goddess Costumes

Ribbon Costume

Bubblegum pop costumes

Leopard print pvc (NSFW)

RocknRoll Cat remains unimpressed but he’s a tough critic so let’s disregard him for now.

Sink the Pink Summer Ball.

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