Sewing a Beyonce number for Raven Mandella.

This leotard pattern hasn’t really been put away since April. I started by using a Burda-style pattern to get a basic idea of shape but I’ve chopped it up and changed it so much that it’s unrecognisable. One day I’ll make the sulphur-crested cockatoo leotard I’ve been dreaming about (for myself) but that’ll have to wait . Until then, have a Beyonce.

I wish I could remember more about making this but it came so hot on the heels of the work I did for the Summer Ball that it’s all a blur of power mesh and optimism. One thing that’ll make my life easier is having a coverstitch machine, I’ve tried experimenting with different finishes and stitches on my sewing machine but I end up using binding around my edges every time. It’s worked so far but any alternative suggestions are welcome.

Beyonce  leotard

I’ve noticed that I do a lot of side panels in power mesh. This works for me in terms of allowing for more stretch, always a good thing when there isn’t a lot of time for second (or first) fittings. I always have the measurements I need but they might be a few months old. Another plus for side power-mesh is the ventilation aspect. Clubs and summer festivals can be hot, sticky, sweaty places.

This was surprisingly easy fabric to work with and the details on the shoulder and hip (not shown in this work in progress pic) were straightforward enough. I used to mess about trying to machine stitch everything but these days I find hand-stitching that kind of detail is quicker and gives me more control over placement.

I couldn't pick a favourite out of these two looks.

I couldn’t pick a favourite out of these two looks. *

Personally, I enjoyed the boots-and-sunglasses-in-the-kitchen look but it wasn’t quite Beyonce. It was perfect for getting me a celebratory cider though.

This was for Raven Mandella, who’s resident drag artist at Popcorn, Heaven. I met Raven about 18 months ago at a rehearsal for the Sink the Pink Summer Ball in 2014. It marked the beginning of my association with Sink the Pink and there was a lot to take in, a lot of names (2 each, minimum) and faces (in and out of make-up) to learn and measurements to take. I have a real soft spot for the dancers I met during that show, especially Ted Rogers, Chester and Raven. Glyn and Amy aside, these three were some of the very first people I met when I got to know the rest of  Sink the Pink. Raven’s one of the most talented and hardest-working dancers I’ve ever met. He’s also into some very intense and rigorous choreography, no slacking off here, so I had to make sure every single seam was reinforced with threats and prayers and pleas as well as the usual-overlocking.

To get an idea of the kind of thing I’m talking about, get a load of this. Wait til 2:38, then make a chiro appointment. I could watch Raven all day. You’ll also see a bit of Glyn (on the right) at the beginning in a black and silver catsuit I made.

Jordan and Jason (backing dancers) are no slouchers either. I made catsuits for them as well, but did I take pics of them? No. Dammit. There’s a youtube clip out there and they look very hot. I’ll have to arrange to get some decent pics soon.

I get so much joy out of doing this. There are a lot of tight deadlines and problem solving but I think I thrive on that kind of pressure (she says with the luxury of not having a deadline for the next two weeks, ask me how I feel next week)

More Raven over here on facebook and instagram

photo  on right from WUT? Club facebook page  (link directs to a relatively SFW pic of Raven dancing)

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Sewing a shift dress (in record time)

Sometimes I make dresses for myself. In fact, I sewed this one not so long ago and it’s become one of my absolute favourites.


If you were ever curious as to what my mum looks like, I’m doing a pretty good impression up there.


There’s not much to this dress. It couldn’t take too much panelling or detail because you’d lose that glorious stain-glass fabric. The trickiest part was deciding where to place the print, apart from that, I just sewed a basic shift from an existing dress.


Actually, the trickiest part was trying to make it home with the same amount of koalas attached to my wrap (that’s leftover Kung Fu Panda fabric by the way, waste not want not). I sometimes wonder why I fuss around so much with patterns when I’m much happier just free-styling.


with Glyn Fussel

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Sewing more drag for the Life Ball. A Klimt-inspired dress.

Way back in May I collaborated with Maxi More and did some sewing for a costume for the Life Ball. The Life Ball is a huge charity event in aid of people living with HIV and is held in Vienna, this year theme was Klimt with a heavy gold influence, beautifully illustrated by this poster of Conchita Wurst as Kilmt’s Golden Adele.

I’d wanted to work with Maxi for ages, who wouldn’t? You’re unlikely to forget her, not just because she’s a 300-foot tower of beauty, Maxi’s one of those people who is just wonderful to be around. There’s a really positive, gentle energy there and, would you look at that face?!

Prior to this project, we’d only really seen each other at stupid o’clock at Savage (Sink the Pink weekly club night) so it was nice too meet up in daylight. It’s always a bit of an adventure to meet up with performers in daylight, will we recognise each other without the lights and shadows of the club? A bit like being a spy. Should I carry an identifying object? Should we synchronise nail polish?

We decided to use Klimt’s Pallas Athena as inspiration and worked from there. It makes perfect sense looking at these two images side by side.


What a face. Mirror, mirror…I think we can stop asking that question now.

We started with an existing gold dress and built the look from there. I’m not going to pretend it was fast.

Maxi More

I cut scallops and layered them to give the dress more movement and texture. I liked the idea of a nod to amour whilst giving it a bit of a fishy-mermaid feel. Actually, I mostly like the texture. We had a lot going on in this look and it was a true collaboration. Maxi constructed the helmet and suggested the addition of the chain mail drape on the shoulder as well as the sarong taffeta wrap round the waist. Genius.

Because I am a filthy cow and I like to be subversive (also I was going a bit mad from the repetition of scallops) I thought I’d throw a cock and balls into the mix. You can see it on the left – sorry mum. I added our names as well so we’d effectively signed our work.

Maxi More


Paula Abdul liked it. So did Dita. And Conchita.

And what was I doing whilst Maxi was in Vienna? Throwing myself into a plate of Pad Thai and cheering her on. I loved working with Maxi. My cats are crazy about the scritches they got from those nails and I’m so happy with how this all turned out. I’d be hard-pressed to name a more lovely human being I’ve met this year and I’ve met a lot of contenders for that title.

Go check her out. When my beard comes in (let’s not fight biology) , I’m heading Maxi’s way for advice. There’s more to be enjoyed over here  and info on the Familyyy Fierce  and their performances.

You’re going to have to excuse the pic quality. Sew sorry, sew fast.

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Sewing for Shay Shay, she’s only Miss Sink the Pink 2015!

I’ve recently been sewing drag for Shay Shay, one of London’s freshest and most creative performers. Gorgeous US-born , London-based Shay Shay.


This costume was originally for the inaugural (possibly NSFW ?) #LIPSYNC1000, a lip sync competition run by East London bar, The Glory. With ten heats, around 100 people took part – the standard was high and the acts pretty diverse. Shay Shay made the final and gave it some real heart (and face and body and the rest!). The final was loads of fun, I’m going to be objectively biased and highlight Ted Rogers, Jacqui Potato, JonBenet Blonde and #houseofdevore as my favourites along with ShayShay

To clarify I didn’t make any of the looks below.

Let’s focus back on Shay Shay for a minute here. Shay Shay’s performance was a triple delight starting with an excerpt from the Evil Queen in Snow White, moving on to a Marina and the Diamonds song and ending with, oh go on guess. Fruit hat. Fruit. Hat. And isn’t that hat perfect? Multi-talented is Ms Shay Shay. She lip synchs, she dances, she makes fruit filled hats. She also cat sits my cats on occasion.


For this look I made a full circle skirt and a bra top. So far, so big deal, right? I’ve made them before, just a bit of maths and a bit of string.  It’s really the fabric doing all the work and Shay Shay’s styling that really makes this. The main difficulty was finding fruit print fabric in early April. You can barely move for lemon/pineapple/watermelon print in summer but you try finding bastarding mixed-fruit print fabric out of season – cherries don’t count, in the context of fruit print fabric, they’re perrenials. After much trawling of Goldhawk Road, I finally found two perfect prints (thank you shop two doors down from Classic Fabrics). The only other issue was finding the space to lay out and cut the skirt. There’s quite a lot of it. So much, she had to have a lie down. Lazy mare.


Photo by Michaela Kidd – many thanks to Michaela for this photo shoot! The other shots I’ve used here are my own (inferior) iphone pics taken on the same day.

Look a little closer at the top…

Kill Fabric

I know, right? Try finding that at 1am in the flat on your own after a horror film (don’t judge, they help me sew) binge. Seriously, that’s pretty creepy. But hey, the top looked good and it held onto the oranges stuffed in there until they were needed.

And so, onto the circle skirt. So you’re thinking ‘a circle skirt? Is that it? really?’ Well, no, it’s not actually. That huge skirt and all it’s fruity fullness tucks up into this polka dot bubble skirt. Like so.

Photo by
Michaela Kidd

What a minx.

Everyone loves a fruity tuck. Getting all that fabric involved a bit of strategic planning and it had to be folded up a certain way. We had to practice quite a bit to get it right because…

I know, I know. It's still bloody sideways. If anyone has any advice on this, it'd be appreciated.

I know, I know. It’s still bloody sideways. If anyone has any advice on this, it’d be appreciated. *

That reveal was SOOOO much fun and so satisfying to see it on-stage.

Shortly after this show, Shay Shay went on to win the annual Miss Sink the Pink, in (amongst other things) a catsuit I made but that’s a story for another time. If I could draw, I’d fan art the hell out of that face. Shay Shay

*Eventually I’ll upload the entire clip of the performance.

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Tudor Vogueing. Joan Oh at Amygrimehouse – AKA Sewing more costumes

I’ve been sewing quite a lot of costumes and drag this year, mostly with Sink the Pink. In fact, I listed all the things I’ve made this year and it totaled up to around 40 pieces. With my computer packing up in March, I found it a bit tricky to keep up with posting everything here so I’ll be catching up over the next few weeks. Quite a lot of links in this post (I wanted to give a bit more context to this post) mostly drag-related but pretty much SFW unless introduced otherwise!

about 42 and counting...

about 42 and counting…

Sometime in early August I received this message from Jono Kitchens (AKA Joan Oh). I had to read it a few times to make sure I’d understood it and it hadn’t been hi-jacked by autocorrect.

‘Babes, I need an outfit for Tudor Realness. I’m judging a Tudor vogueing competition for Amy Grimehouse at Sutton House’

A few days later and….

Image/screenshot reproduced with permission. Ki Price @KiPricePhoto (twitter)

Image/screenshot reproduced with permission. Ki Price @KiPricePhoto (twitter)

Photography by Ki Price

The basis of this look is a cropped, long sleeve top and leggings in a jersey provided by Joan. The ruff and wrist pieces are made of neoprene, I’d had it languishing in my stash and this was the perfect opportunity to use it. I’d not used much neoprene before but it’s got great body and holds so well. I’m not sure if it’s visible in pic but it’s a lovely piece of fabric, one side black and the other a textured white. Making that ruff was murder on my hands as all the folds were hand-stitched and then stitched onto another long piece of fabric which went round the neck. Still, figuring out the dimensions and depth of folds was a nice exercise.

The detail and texture is more visible here.

Joan Oh

I feel I need to elaborate a bit more on the actual event. It was a Tudor themed Vogue drag ball organised by Amy Grimehouse, which hosts immersive arts/cinema/performances and was held in Sutton House, a Tudor Manor House in Hackney, East London. Link to Guardian Article here. Youtube clip of performances here (Lasana Shabazz in front). And another one here (Legs and Coq dancing, Joan in the middle on stage)

It’s such a versatile look, Tudor, 1970s…..who knew?


This look, minus the ruffs, was also Joan’s outfit for the opening night of a shoe exhibition at the V&A.

L-R, JonBenet Blonde, Glynfamous, Chester Hayes, Maxi More, Jay Barry Matthews, Ted Rogers, Joan Oh, Rodent Decay.

Oh, how I love them. It was never my intention but it seems my last few posts are very much a love letter to Sink the Pink. That’s no bad thing and deserved, the first half this year would have been very different if I’d not had this association and friendship. So if you’ll indulge me a moment ….

JonBenet is so gorgeous I want to weep and my love for Glynfamous is pretty well-documented. Working with him has meant I’ve been able to make Chicken Dungarees, many catsuits and that silver Diana Ross dress in the pic. Chester is now performing in the West End as Chestery in Wicked. In the middle is Maxi, one of the sweetest people I’ve been lucky enough to spend time with. We collaborated on a look for the Life Ball earlier this year , which I’m yet to post. Jay‘s taught me a lot about costume and is so talented, most recently working with Grace Jones. Ted Rogers (over on NSFW artpornblog) , he’s a diamond, the last time he popped on facebook he was dancing with/for Will Young and he’s got a clever way with words. Rodent Decay was Miss Sink the Pink 2014, her performances are so intelligent and she’s just stunning.

Jay Barry Matthews, JonBenet Blonde, Joan Oh, Glynfamous, Maxi More, Ted Rogers, Rodent Decay

Jay Barry Matthews, JonBenet Blonde, Joan Oh, Glynfamous, Maxi More, Ted Rogers, Rodent Decay

I’m a massive fan of Joan Oh, I even bought the shirt (how could I not? She’s wearing the pineapple frock I made!). More of Jono dancing here.

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‘Fear’ of sewing and other things to get over.

I’ve been thinking about this for far too long so I’m taking a break from the usual drag and costume posts to exorcise a few things. Specifically ‘fear’. I found myself saying I was a bit ‘scared of sewing with PVC’ and I really need to stop this kind of thinking. It pops up a lot online – fear of sewing with knits, fear of cutting into good fabric, of zippers, fake fur, silk, armholes, lining, facings, FBAs, SBAs. Really? WTF.

These are not things to be afraid of, these are things to be challenged by. Why convince yourself you’re afraid of them before you’ve even begun? There are loads of things you learn to do which, if you think about it, are far more frightening and likely to cause you damage. Drive a car? Cook? Cross the road? Possibly pretty terrifying when you’re learning if you think about it too much. But we persist and through trial, error and advice, we usually figure it out.


Fabric. It’s terrifying.

The point I’m trying to make is that the way we speak about things influences how we perceive them and using words like ‘afraid’ when we refer to knit fabrics is no good for us. Then we end up with cognitive distortion and convince ourselves we can’t sew with knits or whatever. When I teach (language) I hear a lot of ‘ooh it’s difficult’ and yes that may be true but I usually try to encourage my students to use the word challenging. Difficult has passive connotations, challenging sounds much more active, as if the speaker is actively engaging in overcoming the obstacle.

The more we talk about fear of these things the more it spreads to others. Remember that Facebook experiment where they manipulated news feeds so some people had loads of positive stories and others more negative ones? It’s kind of like that. That’s not to say I’m not for open and honest talk about difficulties we have with various aspects of sewing and learning from each other. It’s just the references to scary FBAs, ooh frightening maths equations for circle skirts (calculator and google, anyone?) and being scared of threading a bloody overlocker. These things, at worst, are A Pain In The Arse but not truly scary. And yes, I get the idea of exaggeration for, say, comic effect or writing style but that’s obviously another intention.

I’m not implying that the aspects of sewing I’ve referred to are easy. They can be a pain in the arse, annoying, frustrating and really, really challenging. Many times I’ve had long, expletive-filled arguments with a zipper that won’t go into metallic foil lycra or got into a fight with sequins over a hem but the only thing I’ve been scared about is stitching my finger into the garment.

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Sewing the Sink the Pink Summer Ball 2015. Joan Oh in Pineapple Chiffon

Here’s a fun bit of costume sewing – better get your sunglasses, Joan Oh glows in this frock!


This was one of the costumes I designed and made for the Sink the Pink Summer Ball, held in June this year. That’s Raven Mandela on the right and yes, that’s me in the middle. Bear in mind, it would’ve been about 2am by the time this was taken. Considering the amount I’d been sewing the weeks before, the fact that I’m upright at that stage of the evening is an achievement in itself (claims that I fell asleep shortly afterwards are unproven. Lies, damned lies).

But really, who could sleep with all this beauty and colour?


The intended inspiration for this was a Gloria Estefan type look. Somewhere along the line I inadvertently made Joan into a pineapple.


The dress is a basic halter with a mini-length skirt. The choreography was quite intense so the sides are attached via strips of elastic. I wanted chiffon overlay detail so there’d be good movement and experimented a bit with placement (the pic above was a rejected method) until I found what I wanted.


Finishing the all edges of the chiffon by singeing was probably the worst part. Not because it was difficult but because it was so boring. So boring, but given the only exciting part of singeing chiffon is the possibility of setting it on fire, boring suited me just fine. Singeing rather than hemming gives the chiffon a bit more texture, the edges contract in an interesting way and won’t fray. It’s just a matter of hovering the fabric over a tea light candle but I’d definitely advise doing this in a well-ventilated space and having a bowl or tray of water nearby to throw the fabric in if it catches on fire. That stuff burns fast, don’t take any risks.


You may recognise the Flamingotits costume I made for Amy up there too. After singeing the chiffon strips, I attached them by hand to the skirt. The bodice was all done by machine and I had one chance to fit the dress on Joan on the afternoon before the show. Turns out, (my) tits aside, we’re about the same size. I have the body of a man ten years my junior, who knew?

I wish I’d taken more photos of this dress on the night but I’m consoled by the fact that Sink the Pink have released a run of t-shirts of Joan Oh in this frock. I’m just waiting for mine to be delivered! Pretty gorgeous, yeah? Inside and out, Joan’s wonderful. Plenty more of Joan to come in future posts, I love making things for this one!


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