Sewing the Sink the Pink Summer Ball 2016, Freakshow Part 1 (Clown warning)

This was the show that made me stop and think “Ah, OK, I get it” and really start trusting my judgement on how things should work for the group costumes. I was able to step back from the work and see it properly rather than tit about wasting time. When I think about last year’s ball and how I planned, cut, stitched, unpicked and changed direction only to go back to my original idea, I could kick myself. It’s like when you are getting ready to go out. You pick out what to wear, change your mind a few dozen times before you realise that your first instinct was best (advice from Jeremy Power circa 1992). In fact, this whole year, in so many aspects of my life, has been about realising I need to trust my instincts more. There’ll always be criticism and room to improve but this time when someone gave me positive feedback I didn’t respond with “oh but, I could have…and don’t look at the (whatever tiny flaw I’d blown up in my mind)”.

I’m just going to cover the clowns in the opening number in this post then write up the rest, keep those clowns quarantined (and apologies to my coulrophobic sister).



STP Summer Ball 2016. Clockwise top L-bottom R, Amie, Joe, Laura. Micheal. Sally, Brooke. Core STP dancers.

Neoprene and netting collars, which I made by hand and wide trousers. I had wanted that harlequin fabric but none to be found and besides, this worked out better.


These collars were mostly an exercise in measuring properly and wrestling the neoprene into shape. Why neoprene? Why not? It’s hardy, holds shape and this had good texture. I thought I’d made them too large for the lifts involved in the opening number but that was another lesson learned. To explain a little, with three months between shows, deadlines can be quite tight for all of us. Co-ordinating rehearsals for 40 plus performers requires a lot of skill and dedication on the part of everyone invloved. I go to rehearsals when I can to see the choreography, sneak some fittings in and catch up (but mainly for the lols and to see everyone really). In the past, I’ve sat there thinking, “oh no, how will that bit of choreo work with what I had in mind?” But, I’ve figured out is that there’s always a solution and it’s usually easier than I expected.


Lift by Joe and Sally. Bonus backflip courtesy of Foxxy


As well as these 6 looks, I put together another 2 clowns.


Send in the clowns….oh Dave’s already here… Tester there, bringing your Stephen-King-It fears to life. These had an added “ball sack” pouch inside the front. Observe in this link to  Freakshow fun (as shot and edited by Craig (dreamboat) Heathcote and crew)

Creeping ever closer to my unintentional goal of dressing all of east London’s drag scene…..






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Catwoman wishes she could move like this (and look this good)

Another look from 2015. It’s going to take me a while to catch up with all these costumes. This was Chester’s look for both The Secret Garden Party as well as the Sink the Pink Heroes and Villains Ball.  I’m only sorry this gif is a few seconds long, I could watch him dance forever.


I keep trying to put this catsuit pattern away but it refuses to take a break. It’s the hardest- working pattern I have ever encountered.


This kind of wet look lycra looks great on but takes a bit of patience. It’s a bit of a contradiction, it sticks to itself but also slides easily. Sometimes this works in my favour, but mostly not. Unsurprisingly, sewing with it can be a bit of a faff. The presser foot sticks to the fabric if it’s right side up and it can feed unevenly. For this reason, putting a zip in is a special type of a nightmare.


I know there are teflon feet and fabric lubricants but I stuck a bit of tape on the bottom of the zipper foot and got on with it. A few months after I finished this, I bought a set of (cheap) feet online. Jokes on me because when they arrived, the only description on the box was in Chinese. Lots of fun with translating apps trying to claim I was looking at a “Frog Kebabs” foot. For all the Frog Kebab sewing I do.


Frog Kebabs aside, as long as I went slowly, it was OK. The tape on the bottom of the foot worked well enough for the zip as well as the decorative stitches.



I’m not sure if it’s visible but I added a light mesh panel running along the inside of the sleeve seam and down the body and outside of the leg. This fabric doesn’t beathe that well and the panel made it less sweaty (and allowed for more stretch since it’s more forgiving than the lycra).


First fitting went well, even with the tag still on the mask!

Such a fun ball. I can’t quite get my head round the fact that the next one is 6 weeks away and has sold out already!

You’ll spot Chester slinking down the stairs on the right. Full video is over here

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Sewing the Sink the Pink Winter Ball 2015 -Tank Girl (with bonus Bryan Adams anecdote)

I’ve a bit of catching up to do on the last few months. Here’s a Tank Girl look I made earlier. A lot earlier, for the December 2015 Sink the Pink Heroes and Villains Ball.


Glynfamous as Tank Girl. 

This routine had some fairly vigorous choreography and a bunch of dancers in David Cameron masks. Pointedly political. And speaking of points…


Never before has a pair of tits given me so many sleepless nights. I trialed a few alternatives like plastic bottles (too light, no substance) or card (just no) before I finally went back to using foam.


These are just cylindrical foam pieces (from Shepherd’s Bush market) which I slowly carved into a bullet/bomb shape. I marked the centre and then carved away a little at a time until I was happy with them. Most of this time I was wishing for an electric carving knife, it makes this so much easier. Scissors worked just fine, although my wrists weren’t thrilled with the work.


Next, I covered them in white lycra and used black gaffa tape to get the checks on the tapered part. The fins are just part of a cardboard box covered in yet more black gaffa.


So far, so Tank Girl. But it needed a way to attach to a human person so I made one of those open bra tops in elastic. I really liked how this turned out even before I added the bombs to it.


Then it was just a matter of stitching the bombs directly onto the bra. In retrospect, I wish I’d secured them more thoroughly. Halfway through the number, the right boob/bomb was ready to liberate herself…


As a final touch, I camped up a helmet because it was completely appropriate. And necessary. Cheeky backstage pic, what a beauty.


I was so busy taking this shot, I turned around and literally bumped into Bryan Adams. Naturally, I didn’t recognise him because WHO EXPECTS BRYAN ADAMS? I assumed he was a performer not yet in drag and proceeded to ask him if he was “getting into a look” later. He was very gracious and said he was going onstage in a bit but not in a look and he enjoyed the tank girl look. Did I realise who he was? Not a bit. Not until he excused himself to go onstage, the opening bars of Summer of ’69 started and Glyn said “It’s Bryan Adams!”.

I’m so smooth.




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Sewing The Sink the Pink Spring Ball. Feathery Heaven

This is my favourite of piece of all the looks I’ve ended up sewing. Ever. In fact, I want one for myself. In every colour.


Glynfamous is Heaven (vis Liberace and Barbara Cartland)

This all started with a message from Glyn that read.

Glyn; I need a heaven look for the ball.

Me; Yeah, OK. I reckon I can take it on.

Glyn; Prepare.*

*which basically means “we’re gonna try something here, it may take over your flat and your life” And it pretty much did. And yes, that’s my utter disaster of a kitchen in the background. This is no fancy-pants operation, I work out of my tiny basement flat, dodging cats and all the other usual detritus of life.I took the photo below at 3am the night before the show. I had to lie down for a few minutes (unsurprisingly) and there she was looming above me, and almost finished and looking completely out of context,


Yeah, that’s right. 4-bloody-bollocking-AM. Downing Red Bulls at midnight was not the best idea I’ve ever had. But at least I had solidarity cat keeping me company while the other two took off for whatever cat disco I wasn’t invited to.


This look is basically a dressing gown with a flared sleeve. It may be a bell sleeve or I’ve even heard it called and angel or trumpet sleeve. At that point in the morning I was refering to it as “huge fuck-off/fuck off sleeves”. Fuck-off as in super huge. And fuck off as in “OMG, 5m to hem of this bloody thing when will it end?!”

Speaking of ends….enjoy.



The bodice is three rectangles gathered at the shoulder and back collar. I reinforced the back collar with ribbon and used the same ribbon round the waist. It ends about mid-thigh where I added a full circle skirt. After pinning it on, I thought it needed a bit more volume at the bottom so I added three godets; one large one at the back and two at the front. It gave it so much more movement.


The pic above is of the not-quite-finished-yet stage. The hem still needed work but I’ll get to that in a bit. French seams on all of it because it needed it. There was no way it was ever going to not have French seams. You can see how the front skirt piece curves up to allow for walking. The problem with that and the wide sleeve hem is that the inside of the garment is visible. Unfortunately, the feather trim was attached to a white ribbon and I wasn’t going to work so hard and have a big white ribbon flashing away and ruining the colour scheme. 4am glue to the rescue and it was all dried and hidden away by the next morning although I had to lock it in the bathroom to dry in case the cats got any ideas.


The process of making this was so enjoyable. The chiffon part was easy if a little fiddly but stitching the trim to the chiffon was a challenge. I have to give credit to Rob at Sew Amazing in Bow here. He’s an incredible source of knowledge – he suggested I use three-step zig-zag stitch, a jeans needle (I know, on chiffon but bear with me) and run the thread through paraffin wax. It was a bit unorthodox but it worked!

My poor, poor, over-worked sewing machine. One day we’ll sew some nice cotton. One day. Maybe. This is a very impractical gown though. You ain’t hopping on the number 8 bus and going down to Bethnal Greean Tesco of a Sunday in this. It’s a gown for flouncing and romancing. And maybe fainting on a chaise longue if you’re careful.


Oh go on, have a second pic. It’s only Beverly Knight! Glyn’s hat by Noel Stewart

It’s hardly a completely new design though. These type of gowns have been around for a while in one form of another. In fact, against my better judgement, I went into the M&M store in Leicester Square on Monday and saw this….

I must have stood there laughing for at least 5 minutes.


I really think this is my favourite piece after “Conceptual Bride” last year. Conceptual Bride is still going strong and getting lots of wear. Last seen on stage with Years and Years at Brixton Academy.

I love the still of this clip, those gorgeous crowns by 8DIX make it look like something out of Where the Wild Things Are. Watch out for Foxxy’s awesome high kicks on the left. I think she’s in the Liz Hurley number I made so it’s good to see it getting about! Absolute powerhouse dancing from Raven Mandella, Jono Kitchens, JonBenet Blonde, Shay Shay and Rodent Decay in here too (and I think that’s Stoli on far right). Raven’s bum wiggle at the end is a particular highlight.

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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.



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.


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….


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


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


I made two tunics for Glynfamous and Maxi More.


A cowl neck dress for Miss DianaMight


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


Similar concept for Ted Rogers – but with plunging back


Slightly more structured look for pretty Alexus Deluxe


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


Longer dress for Shay Shay


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


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


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!


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


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


Raven Mandella is Eve (is a hedge)

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


Glynfamous is Sporty Christ

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


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.


Glynfamous is Heaven (vis Liberace and Barbara Cartland)

I love it.


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.


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.


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!

glasto 2015

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.

Foxxy Glasto

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.


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


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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