Sequins, Fleas of Disco. 9 tearaway dresses for Sink the Pink at Glam Clam

Here’s a story of how I fought 13m of red sequins for a drag show in north London and won.

 

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Maxi More and Shay Shay

The Glam Clam was a really fun night of dinner and a show at the Dome, Tuffnel Park. The concept is the brainchild of chef and author Gizzi Erskine. She designed the menu, Collette Cooper and Miss Kimberely  and their bands provided the tunes and Sink the Pink provided the batshit glamour. Me? I had strong words with sequins until they fell in line. I’m still finding remnants of batshit glamour throughout the flat (in the garden, in the bath, in my shoes etc).

As beautiful as this fabric is, it frays if there are scissors anywhere near it.

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I mean, really. It looked like disco had exploded. They were everywhere and they stuck to me. I try to keep my costume work separate from my teaching but after I’d returned papers to my students sprinkled with unintentional sequins, I had to come clean and tell them what I’d been up to.

Oh yeah, sure Mr Landlord, (and your brother and your brother’s dog) you can come by tomorrow….

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I think I read online that it was a good idea to put newspaper down to catch errant sequins. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA …..draws breath …….HAHAHAHAHAHA. Cool, now I have sequins AND random bits of the Metro all over the floor.

But, it was totally worth it. In the end I had 9 different tearaway dresses. And all this just one week after I finished costumes for the Sink the Pink Winter Ball 2015

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The less I played with this fabric the better to be honest, I let the sequins work for themselves.

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I made two tunics for Glynfamous and Maxi More.

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A cowl neck dress for Miss DianaMight

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70s inspired plunging neckline for Raven Mandella (Glyn photobomb)

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Similar concept for Ted Rogers – but with plunging back

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Slightly more structured look for pretty Alexus Deluxe

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Wrap around number for JonBenet Blonde (bonus Maxi More photobomb)

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Longer dress for Shay Shay

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And, finally, an off the shoulder number for Foxxy (on right, Diana Might on left)

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That Foxxy. So shy….little did we know it was so very very short it was obscene. So i had to recut.

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Do I have any advice for using this fabric? Um, don’t? Lots of don’ts. Don’t involve too many seams or panels. Leave it alone and let it do its thing. Don’t rush. Don’t expect to some out of it unscathed (literally, I have scratches all over my arms).

And of course, Glyn wore the Diana Ross dress for one of the numbers too. Like liquid silver. Glyn wore it in the shoot for the publicity material for the show. One of my favourite creations of last year, which I am yet to post. I’m struggling to keep up!

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For some reason I can’t embed the clip I have of the show but if you fancy some grainy footage head over this way.

 

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Sewing the Sink the Pink Spring Ball 2016

After two years of bi-annual balls, Sink the Pink are  now putting on 4 balls every year. FOUR OF THEM in 2016. You’ll find me by the trail of sequins I’m shedding.

With this being the first ball held in spring, the rehearsal and prep period was much shorter so deadlines were tight. But all those years of Catholic School came in handy since I did the bulk of the construction in the two weeks leading up to last Saturday’s show (whilst still holding down my day job). I’m still a bit shocked at how much I produced.

So welcome to Church of Sink the Pink….we’re sinning in mixed fibres, Leviticus would have a fit.

  1. 20 tearaway nun frocks and habits. Plus two adorable pink choir boy tearaway frocks and ruffs

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2. One Garden of Eden Eve catsuit that had to withstand the death-dropping  ways of Raven Mandella. Oof look at the hair!

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Raven Mandella is Eve (is a hedge)

3. Circle skirt Sporty Christ for Glynfamous. I love how happy he looks here.

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Glynfamous is Sporty Christ

4. One Leona Lewisham Sister Act (and me in that cat dress again…no time to sew anything)

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Leona Lewisham is your Sister Act

5. Possibly my absolute favourite piece I’ve made. Feathery Heaven. Or Barbara Cartland, or Fluffy Prawn depending on who you ask.

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Glynfamous is Heaven (vis Liberace and Barbara Cartland)

I love it.

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Oh go on, have a second pic. It’s only Beverly Knight!

6. One of the earliest cat suits I’d ever made given new lease of life in a Bowie number.

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Shay Shay is Bowie (via a catsuit I made when I had just started this crazy ride)

And one last thing…things

7. Red Sequin dresses for Tainted Love. These were for another show last year and they looked so good, we rolled them out again. Originally, there were 9 tearaway (again, always tearaway!) dresses but I think 5 of these were reused last weekend.

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Yeah, I did alright here. I’ve been uploading pics on Instagram but I’ll be dealing with these piece by piece in the next few days on here. Until then, here’s the opening number…

 

There were so many, many wonderful looks, go search the hashtag #sinkthepink on Instagram, cheer up yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Glastonbury Ponchos for Sink the Pink

In June (or possibly July) this year, I was knee deep in costumes for the Sink the Pink Summer Ball and in the midst of it all, I agreed to whip up a quick look for the girls for a couple of festivals over summer. These were used for the girls on stage with Todd Terje at London Field Day 2015 and also Glastonbury. And wow, did they look like they had fun!

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Field day 2015, bunch of sweethearts.

This is by no means the most complex of costumes I made last year but. when you’re trying to unify ten diverse drag queens, you have to keep it simple. White, fringed ponchos and floral flair seemed to fit the bill. Nice bit of movement, nice bit of colour, done. The most difficult part was keeping them clean.

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Here’s the utterly beautiful, glitter-clad heartbreaker Foxxy Moron (above) showing us how it’s done at London Field Day on stage for Todd Terje.

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With the Summer Ball as well as these pieces, it was a very, very colourful time round mine.

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Screengrab from BBC livestream of Glastonbury

I got such a kick seeing them onstage. The set looked like loads of fun.

And look at how much joy the crowd get out of this!

As I mentioned, it was a very fast make, I think it took me a few hours once I had enough plastic fruit and the fabric unrolled and ready to cut. I’m calling this a triumph of “don’t second guess yourself and make sure you have a second set of blades for your rotary cutter!”

 

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Sewing Catsuits.

I swear this catsuit was not intentionally Flake-inspired. But it still looked pretty cool.

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Photography by Michaela Kidd  taken at Bethnal Green Working Man’s Club

Wait for it….


You see? Yeah, now, like me the night before it was due, bet you can’t unsee.

I seem to enjoy making a rod for my own back with all the panel details I put into these catsuits. Making this symmetrical was just another way I like to annoy myself too.

Actually, that’s misrepresenting myself. I love working with lycra. It doesn’t cause me grief, I’ve figured out where to get decent, non-see-through lycra at a reasonable price and I love how it completely changes once it’s on a body. I like figuring out style lines and how that throws shapes onto the body. So the body gives shape to the shapes I’ve cut in the panels and the shapes I’ve cut gives shape to the body which….repeat til fade. I don’t get anywhere near this type of thinking when I’m sewing or cutting though. It’s usually more like “how much more Erasure can I inflict upon the rest of the people nearby? Is it time to switch to Diana Ross?”

Flake catsuit

I do love a bit of power mesh. 2015, year of the power mesh panel.

This look was commissioned by GlynFamous to be worn to a party he hosted in Singapore – way back in April! There’s a great shot here of Glyn in action. The Sink the Pink girls have had a heavy list of costume demands this year so I’m documenting the backlog while I have a break.

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Photography by Michaela Kidd 

Flaketastic, right? I love how the back turned out.  I’m also really pleased that Michaela and I had the chance to get these shots taken at The Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club. It’s a fantastic venue that nurtures a lot of talent and hosts so many diverse events, a proper community venue that takes everyone in. It’s been a real privilege to be able to have had the chance to be a small part of it and get to know some of the staff.. It’s also been the home of Sink the Pink for year now and the club has grown so much in that time. So much so that it cannot be contained by the Working Men’s Club anymore and Sink the Pink held their (a few NSFW pics of bums in thongs in this link) last regular party  there a few weeks ago. Sink the Pink hasn’t ended though, four balls next year rather than two (FOUR!) and many other shows throughout 2016. Fun times!

 

(Please ask before using any of the images in this post. Thanks)

 

 

 

 

 

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PVC Rainbow.

We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto.

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This was another collaboration with one of my dearest friends, Glyn. I made this back in April to be worn at The NYC Downlow at Glastonbury. I’m not sure if that’s where it had it’s debut but it turned up at a roof top pool party after London Pride 2015.

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Sorry for screenshots (and the 14% battery, I tend to play fast and loose with my battery life). I tried to talk him out of PVC, I really did. If it were a matter of standing round looking wipe-clean and gorgeous, things would be different but he moves. He really moves and I wanted to make sure this wouldn’t restrict him.

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So far, so good, right? OK, time for some honesty. I made this fast, super fast without a fitting until the day before it was needed.  Also, I hadn’t had that much experience with this type of fabric before. I know Glyn’s measurements pretty well but this fabric has almost zero stretch vertically and not a lot horizontally. It was far too short in the body so I had to think fast and add an extra panel. We also decided to have the legs as separates from below the knee. It just looked better and was more practical given how little this stuff breathes.

If I were to do this over again, I’d incorporate a powermesh panel somewhere along a horizontal so it had more give. As it was, I used a lattice cut PVC panel along the yoke which gave us more stretch.

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I do love it though. I’m very aware of how lucky I am to be given all this freedom to just go for it creatively and have such wonderful people to work with.  It’s all down to my association with Sink the Pink, I’m beyond proud to be working with them.  I’ve learnt so much and really been challenged and I realised last week that problem solving is one of the most important skills when it comes to any creative project.

Also….this was completely unintentional. But looks very Kennedy Davenport RuPaul Season 7. You remember that stunning Rico Cavalli rainbow dress? I’ve only just started following him on instagram and his work is beautiful.

I have so much to catch up on blog-wise but I’m usually posting over on Instagram, there’s a lot of sequins over there at the moment (and me swearing about my crappy landlord and the shitty lights in this flat!) I wonder how much appeal blogs will still hold this time next year. I like them, a lot. But it’s so much easier to scroll and interact via Instagram (the wordpress app does my head in!)

 

 

 

 

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Drag Race against the clock. Sewing for the Sink the Pink Winter Ball

There are five, FIVE, days exactly til the Sink the Pink Winterball 2015 and all the super hero looks I still need to finish. I’m sewing faster than ever before!IMG_3562

There are two weeks til Glam Clam – that’s 9 sequinned dresses.

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And 4 days til Camp as Christmas and one pink fur coat deadline ( I may have already finished this by the time  post this – wild optimism speaking there).

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Sometime in mid-December, I’ll be in a position to (temporarily) evict the sequins from my life. Possibly. Bloody sequins.

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But sequin eviction will have to wait because, FIVE DAYS and ….

Six leotards/pants

Plus this (not-a-banana) banana yellow catsuit. You can probably guess what this is for.

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And the rest… Kimono, Cruella Deville coat, Tank Girl look, Storm (X-Men) look, cat woman and other miscellaneous capes and gloves. I’m on about 21 pieces in the last three weeks. And do I have anything to wear to the ball? Great big nope. I think I’ll end up going as Super Gran, I’m all hunched over and have no time to dye my hair so I’m already in character!

Somewhere in the chaos I was confused enough to agree to whip up this off the shoulder, one leg catsuit for Sink the Pink’s ‘Into the Wild’ night last Saturday.

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I’m actually kind of shocked at how much I’ve managed to produce. Especially, since last week, my overlocker finally carked it. Sad times, we’d been through a lot, I may have cried. Mainly tears of OMFG WHY NOW?!!! but I found comfort in my new ELNA 664 –  purchased from Sew Amazing in Bow, who are ace and super knowledgeable. It’s great. I can say with confidence that despite the bond I shared with my old workhorse ovelocker, I’m over the heartbreak and there’s no looking back for me and my ELNA. The only sting is, I’d had my eye on a coverstitch machine because it’d make the Lycra in my life so much more loveable but that’ll have to wait. This is by no means a hardship so I’l put my tiny violin back in its case.

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Last year’s ball was so much fun, I really can’t wait til this one!

Last year’s Winter Ball over here for dresses and here for catsuits. 

 

 

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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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