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Clothes: Satan’s Playthings

On Tumblr, a website where I like to waste valuable time looking at pictures of mushrooms, Tom Hardy, kittens doing things, and maps of the world coloured in different ways to express various (unsourced) data sets, there are recurring text posts in circulation about how much most of the (female, and sometimes male) users of the site are disappointed in the fashion industry. Not merely at a political level (“why is it called nude when a narrow selection of white people are that colour when naked and human skin comes in a million other shades?” / “men can wear lingerie” / “stop encouraging eating disorders” and all the other old classics are available if you ever need to be reminded that capitalism has turned the business of “clothing our bodies” into an ugly mirror for all the worst parts of society’s racism, gender policing, and body fascism), but at the simple and practical level of just buying clothes from any retailler.

Although the eagle-eyed will note that large, weirdly-shaped, sewing-machine-owning yours truly tends to make a lot of her own clothes, I still have to buy a certain amount of them, for a number of reasons, like “it’s still cheaper to buy t-shirts than make them” (unless you’re buying them from PAOM or Bolongaro Trevor) and “sewing denim is fucking impossible”. Aside from that I do also like looking through clothing shops either online (where I don’t have to listen to store music or smell other people’s inability to use functional deodorant or deal with their lack of understanding of the concept of personal space) or in person (where I can find out what the fabric feels like, what the hang of the clothing is like on someone who isn’t a model, and whether or not the pockets in the picture are real pockets), and gleaning if nothing else some ideas to work from.

(On an associated note, the best place to get ideas from so far has been “a selection of historical fashions tumblrs” and other blogs: fashionsfromhistory, omgthatdress, chiffonandribbons, fringefashion, inmirrors, medievalvisions (not just fashion), and notordinaryfashion; a trawl through Etsy chasing whichever era I’m into at the moment as a search term can occasionally be rewarding, although a lot of people on there don’t seem to have grasped that “Renaissance” and “Victorian” are about four hundred years apart from each other, and also “Byzantine” is a form of chain-making and therefore not so easy to search for art under).

In the spirit of conformity, then, here are some problems I have with most readily-available clothing for women-type people, and my suggested solutions.

Pockets

This is an angry, frequently-shouted complaint in all conversations about women’s clothing.

I like bags, don’t get me wrong, and I have them now in every necessary size: one tiny one from Doc Martens, one tiny one from a box of rejected packaging in a camera shop on the Strand, one medium-sized one from an army surplus shop which has been cooed over by everyone from dentists at the Eastman Hospital to scruffy skatepunk campaigners at Save South Bank, and one largeish solid former 1970s camera bag from a stall in the weird windowless basement of antiquities off Brick Lane which has been the toast of hipsters everywhere I’ve taken it. Love a good bag, me. Especially if it’s a satchel or a camera bag, apparently. I’ve even got a motorbike courier’s document bag of standard Czech army issue, because why not?

But I don’t want to be forced to carry one at all times, and I like having somewhere to put my hands, and my Oyster card and keys are a bit too important to be entrusted in a discrete item that I can put down and leave somewhere or have snatched from me. And most human ladies agree: bags should be voluntary, not mandatory, and while “Bra pouches” are ingenious for, say, clubbing or festivals, there’s nothing especially dignified about fishing around in your sweaty underwear to pay for a bottle of water at the shops.

Men’s clothing always has pockets. Men’s jogging bottoms: pockets. Even the ball-swaddling Lycra has pockets. Shorts have pockets. There are t-shirts with pockets. Pockets on formal wear. Pocketed button-downs. Pockets on their jackets. My friend Doug bought a hat with a fucking pocket in it.

Not only do we not get pockets on most women’s clothing, we get fake pockets. We get a pocket flap with no pocket behind it. We get teased with the prospect of somewhere to stash an iPod and then no goddamn sheath. FAKE POCKETS. “Pocket details”. What kind of sick fuck came up with that idea? “You can have the concept of a pocket. You can have the look of a pocket, so that people will assume you have a pocket and refuse to hold something for you. But you can’t have an actual pocket. Muahaha.”

The most common explanation for this has been “it damages the silhouette.”

At this point I would like to grab the designers of high-street fashions by the lapels and say: you will find space for a pocket in your precious silhouette. I know it’s possible, you lying fucks. I make clothes. You can put massive pockets into a flared dress without doing a fucking thing to the silhouette. You can hide pockets in folds and in drapes and in the lining of hoodie sleeves. I’ve seen clothes blatantly designed for selling drugs and they have so many ingenious hidden pockets that I wanted to cry with envy.

My solution is: everywhere you originally put a fake pocket, put a real pocket. Everywhere you would put a pocket if you were making the same item for men, put a pocket on the item for women. And a proper pocket, not those pathetic little shallow hip things you put on women’s jeans which routinely disgorge lip balm every time I sit down.

Colours

Every season high street fashion lobs a different set of palettes under the bus and demands that we focus on a specific single collection of colours, with no alternative if you happen to suit a different family to those on offer. Sure as night follows day, you will be allowed jewel tones and nothing else all winter, and fuck you if you’re a warm colours person.

For a while there the colour I like best, which followers of this blog will be familiar with (spoilers: it’s khaki) was in vogue. Shops overflowed with Army Green. Now it has all vanished under a sea of fucking coral pink, light grey, navy blue, black, and neon colours, all of which reliably make me look like a corpse. My only option is maroon-burgundy, and there’s only so much of that I can take.

Of course this limitation of colours is even worse if you’re a plus-sized person (or as I prefer to call myself: fat). Your options are black, the same shade of purple as a Cadbury’s chocolate bar, white maybe, and sometimes the same shade of brown as a Cadbury’s chocolate bar. Never mind if you’re of swelling stature and have the enviable luck to have skin dark enough to look good in lemon yellow; fuck you if you naturally rock a deep rich red; shit off if you’re looking to swathe your immense boobs in baby blue or rose pink. Fat women can wear black and be invisible or else.

Even shops were “basics in a range of colours” is a selling point (the notoriously awful American Apparel who are the only people who make thigh socks that will fit my waist-sized thighs, Primark, etc) manage “a range of colours in one tone“, and most of the time that one tone is “cold colours”.

My suggested solution is that for each style you decide to sell, sell it in a range of tones. Maybe one colour from each tone, which will increase your variety and constitute selling it one other colour. Maybe more. It costs nothing more and means you don’t have a load of stock mouldering on the shelves in places where people are more cold-toned or warm-toned than the current fashion allows for. Also people like me will stop bitching about your shop on the internet, and everyone wins.

Sizing

I’m not going to touch on the “why do you make clothes in sizes for people who are non-existently tiny but then stop at size 16 or 18 or whatever while all the newspapers wank on about an obesity crisis do you not understand that fat people also need to wear clothes” because it is a particular hobby of mine to wax boring on this topic and I think everyone’s tired of it.

What I actually mean is that “size 16 or 18 or whatever”, or “EU50″ or “US 12″ or whatever. Not only does sizing language vary between countries, causing endless confusion when buying overseas and necessitating a list of sizes on every clothing label, but it varies between stores, and as a friend discovered while trying to buy cheap jeans in Peacocks, it even varies within one store. What earthly point is there in knowing you take a size 12 from one shop when you have no idea if you take a size 12 from another section of the same shop, let alone any other shop?

Lord only knows how many online purchases get sent back because “18″ doesn’t mean the same thing to ASOS as it does to H&M, and all the sizing charts are carefully hidden away in pop-ups or weird links which close the page you were looking at, because no one should have to look at them.

Suggested solution here has probably been suggested several times before. Do away with sizing summaries. Instead of listing on a garment all fifty different equivalent sizes it is worldwide, list the key measurements in inches and centimetres, like so:

Dress
Chest: 34 inch/86 cm
Waist: 30 inch/76 cm
Hip: 36 inch/91.5 cm

Shirt
Collar: 13 inch/33 cm
Chest: 34 inch/86 cm
Waist: 30 inch/76 cm

Trousers
Waist: 30 inch/76 cm
Hip: 36 inch/91.5 cm
Inner leg: 28 inch/71 cm

The other great advantage like this is the sizing is consistent across the sexes, as well as the stores, the styles, and the continents. Everyone can buy with confidence, everyone knows what will fit and what won’t, and sales of tape measures will go through the roof (why not sell tape measures by the till? Online? Why not have an in-store measurement service for customers who aren’t sure?).

Sizing: shop layout.

While we’re on sizing: please stop displaying all your clothes by style only. If you’re going to do that, at least have section dividers on the rail. I’m so sick of having to rifle through tightly-packed clothes in a busy shop to find out if you do this particular style in my size (and you always put larger sizes towards the back, just to make life even more difficult), checking every single clothing tag – if I can find it – because you don’t pay your shop floor staff enough for them to care whether they’ve put the discarded top back on the hanger with the right number on it (Primark).

Instead, why not divide the shop up into size sections? If you’re going to insist on sticking to the “UK16, US20, EU95″ system of sizing, at least have a “rail 16″ where all the damn clothes are a size 16 and we can just look for the style we want, confident in the knowledge that it will be in the ballpark of fitting us.

Fabric quality

This is another of the bugbears of a broad church of Tumblr users, Facebook friends, and anyone you talk about clothes with at all, ever.

Why are women’s high street clothes made of such shitty fabric.

It’s the same as the pocket problem. Men’s clothing in the same price range, from the same shops, is made with thicker, stronger, more durable, often more pleasant-to-wear fabric. Men’s clothing doesn’t come free from its lining after one evening of wearing it to the cinema; men’s clothing doesn’t have a texture like sad tissue paper; men’s clothing is rarely the approximate thickness of an atom and yet somehow designed to cause copious sweating.

No one’s come up with an explanation for this bullshit at all. No “oh colours are expensive”, “people can’t use tape measures”, “that would take up too much space”, “pockets ruin the silhouette”, nothing. Even in Primark, home of the terminally cheap and frequently disintegrating clothing, there is a marked difference in quality between mens- and womenswear.

The only explanation I can offer is that they assume that our clothing needs are so rigidly segregated that no woman will ever pop into the men’s section in search of a jumper, because it’s for men omg and thus we’ll never find out that we’re being forced into crappier, colder, less comfortable clothes for no good reason. And that, as a strategy, is about on the level with a toddler putting their head inside a pillowcase and believing that they’re invisible.

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Gone, but not forgotten: embroidery & sewing

I have been busy like the proverbial black and yellow flying, buzzing, non-wasp insect of late, and one particular project has been eating up a lot of my free time and braincells. It has involved a lot of embroidery, a lot of wrestling with difficult fabric, a lot of tedious decision-making, cobbling together of several different patterns, and the prerequisite heavy swearing.

It is…

They are a little large on me but they're damned comfortable.

They are a little large on me but they’re damned comfortable.

COMFORTABLE JERSEY TROUSERS WITH POCKETS.

Sorry, wrong photo. I did make those as well. Really, it was:

You can't see it, but I sewed those lace overlays on with holographic thread. Because I could, really.

You can’t see it, but I sewed those lace overlays on with holographic thread. Because I could, really.

A COMFORTABLE JERSEY TOP WITH LACE OVERLAYS ON THE SLEEVES.

Which took less than two hours from start to finish including pattern cutting, despite being a new pattern, so clearly it wasn’t actually that.

Hella Jacket

Oh yeah, it was this one.

Check out those cuffs. They're a pain in the ass to get into and out of. And yes, my face really does look like a white blur.

Check out those cuffs. They’re a pain in the ass to get into and out of. And yes, my face really does look like a white blur.

And this was the embroidery that took me such a hellishly long time:

I cannot begin to describe how fiddly and infuriating this was.

I cannot begin to describe how fiddly and infuriating this was.

Oh and that white thread glows in the dark. Naturally I can already see ALL THE THINGS that are wrong with it, but for the time being I am going to luxuriate in owning a jacket that no one else owns, unless possibly they are in the RSC or something.

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Try, try, and try shirts again.

Startling news from the department of the blindingly obvious: it transpires that one can, in fact, become better at something by doing it a lot. Take, for example,  making shirts. Shirts seem quite complicated an alarming at first glance, as they have collars and cuffs and pointy bits and in my case if you want it to even slightly fit you need to put darts in for your aggressively large rack.

But a false start here and a lot of swearing (a mandatory part of sewing) and choosing of the right fabric later, and you find yourself earnestly telling someone at work that “they’re not really all that difficult”, and discovering that, sans buttons and button-holes, you can make one in about three hours.

The first attempt

At first not a great success: I lost the yoke piece here, which is why the shirt sleeves are hideously puffy at the shoulder (even if that does look deliberate). Also I couldn’t find the buttonholing function on my sewing machine at the time so I threw in a zip. The shirt is made out of a recycled red bedsheet for a single bed, and will probably be recycled again for other purposes in the future as the fabric’s soft.

Second attempt

Looks much better. I’m strongly in favour of patterned shirts. The button holes are a little large (getting the size of them right continues to be my stumbling block) but overall the fit is good and the shirt itself is pretty sturdy. Made out of an old duvet case. There’s plenty more material where that came from so expect to see the same pattern cropping up again in future. Apart from anything else, I rather like that busy floral repeat.

The third attempt.

Using much thinner, purpose-purchased fabric for a lighter weight shirt. Again the fit it is good but it’s let down by the buttonholes, and the fact that I salvaged those tiny buttons from the back of a charity-shop wedding dress.

On to the most recent attempt:

The breeches also make their way through several stages

The much-trumpeted William Morris shirt

Here I’ve actually gone back a step and used home furnishing fabric with a William Morris pattern, but this time I also used fabric-covered buttons – which are a lot easier to make than I realised – to camouflage the failings of my buttonholes.

If you look closely, in fact, you’ll see it’s the same pattern as on the red duvet shirt, but in green and cream:

Which I didn’t actually do on purpose.

The other major change from previous shirts is this: the pattern did not actually come with cuffs, because apparently fat ladies don’t wear full sleeve shirts. However, the end of the sleeves provided with the pattern has a slit, and thanks to adapting a pattern for 1940s women’s trousers in to cuffed breeches, I’ve become passable at making my own cuffs from scratch:

Not that you can REALLY see it here

This shirt then is as complete a women’s shirt from pattern as I am likely to make… until the next one.

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Links Post September

Things Other People Have Done

  • Written a sardonic post about popular myths about poetry.
  • Designed an eating game based around the Prisoner’s Dilemma. A friend of mine was one of the original test party for this and spent a while explaining interesting “hacks” of the overall premise, which is after all what games are really about.
  • Put up a 1965 high school student’s research paper project: to ask several best-selling authors of the time about symbolism in their work. A surprising number replied, although as you’d expect they weren’t really into the literary criticism side of their stories.
  • Created a useful toy for house planners and writers alike: a room layout planner. Helpful for visualising fictional spaces. (via Cindy R)
  • Written an article about why storytelling is a valuable tool in understanding, in neurological terms as well as social ones.
  • Made this cool thing that makes patterns and is extremely good for calming one down after stressful work days.
  • Put up a tutorial on how to make failed lab experiments.
  • Made a regular podcast about the history of the English language.

Things I have done

  • Started a fashion magazine/blog called Faschionism which should, hopefully, update several times a week with stuff from various contributors.

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Jewellery Post: Cameo Heaven

All of the following listings and some others are available from my Etsy shop.

Click on image for listing

This elegant and sophisticated rosary necklace is perfect as Sunday best or night wear, and the delicate pearl chain suits any number of outfits. Just right for Easter.

click on image for listing

Elegance, class, and chic, on the cheap. This dazzling brooch will transform any jacket, any scarf, into an immediate regal piece fit for a queen. At the very least you will be 100% more pearly and cameo’d, and that’s really the same thing.

click on image for listing

Ear posts not guaranteed hypoallergenic.

Elegant cameo earrings to match your necklace/brooch. An excellent addition to an outfit.

click on image for listing

This cute, decorative button has a new lease of life as a butterfly-back brooch. Pin it anywhere on your clothes for a quirky accent to your outfit, or to your hat or bag.

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September Links Post

Things I’ve done

Things my friends have done

  • Talent fountain and illustrator Kassie has at long last made it possible for people to commission her. Examples of her work can be found at the link.

Things strangers have done

  • Created a beautiful map of the London Underground out of printed circuit board, and made a functioning radio with it.
  • Used the rings of a tree to map a piano sound, and produced beautiful, chaotic music.
  • Called for submissions of short fiction to a rollerderby themed anthology.
  • Compiled a list of poetry publications who – unfortunately still a rarity – accept digital submissions. It is a particular bugbear of mine that poetry magazines, behind every other type of publication, refuse to accept poems via email or web form, especially as unlike longer submissions it is entirely possible to to attach a poem to an email without capsizing even the most stingy of email inboxes.
  • Compiled a handy ten-point list of ways not to write about comics.
  • Created a gorgeous collection of ominous clothing eerily reminiscent of the costume designs for the baddies in Lord of the Rings.
  • Written a not uncontroversial article about preventative therapy for paedophiles and hebephiles.
  • Weighed in on the subject of taboos in comedy.

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August Links Post

Things my friends have done

Things strangers have done

  • Someone has discovered – how, I don’t know – that there is a squid that can break off its arms and throw them at enemies. The world can always, always get weirder.
  • Made a note, at a fiction magazine, on why writing what you know isn’t always the best advice.
  • Some kind soul has uploaded a selection of public domain films, including The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, to Youtube.
  • Created an amusing little toy which will generate chunks of “Fifty Shades of Grey”-esque prose at the press of a button.
  • Made a tool which allows you to find that word that’s right on the tip of your tongue.
  • Posted a wide variety of documentaries, with a slant towards British history (the tumblr page is something of a clusterfuck of add-ons and annoying cursor-follows).
  • Made an easy-to-follow tutorial on how to make custom lipsticks using wax crayons!
  • Reported that science populariser and neurologist Oliver Sacks struggles with prosopagnosia, or “face blindness”, a neurological disorder which prevents him from recognising faces. The article itself is being used in part to promote Sacks’ new book, The Mind’s Eye. 
  • Compiled a list of the “6 Most Certifiably Insane Acts of Writing“, although it is from Cracked.com so you may wish to take it with an entire cellar of salt.
  • Posted a tutorial on how to turn a t-shirt into a “tank top” which I think is Americanese for “strappy top”.
  • Laurie Penny wrote a post using her personal experience to talk about definitions of rape in the media; as you might expect from that description it is not a comfortable read.
  • Created a handy website that will transform handwriting into a font.
  • Made an interactive map of surname frequency in London.

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T-shirts!

All of these are available from my Etsy shop for the terribly reasonable price of £14.99 plus P&P.

Click on image for listing

Navy blue stretch girly cut t-shirt to fit a UK12, with attached vintage rosary. Tired of having to constantly reposition your necklace to get it lying just so? Can’t quite achieve the perfect rakish angle? Fed up with necklaces irritating the back of your neck? Well, we’ve solved that for you: this rosary is affixed to the t-shirt in the option rake position, and the ends of this dainty little beauty stop at the shoulder – enough for a necklace effect, but not enough to scratch your skin.

Click on image for listing

Girly cut stretch t-shirt in grey, to fit UK size 12, featuring red thread, glass bead and acrylic bead embroidery on the shoulder. Perfect for convincing people – temporarily – that you’ve been mauled by a werewolf.

Click on image for listing

Fits a UK size 16, can be worn by women or particularly hip men, as demonstrated by the long-suffering model; features black and white embroidered swirls, and a triple string of beaded chains and a detachable cross charm on the shoulder.

 

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February Links Post

Things my friends have done

Things I have done

Things strangers have done

  • Begun the process of reconstructing sounds from brainwaves, apparently. I cannot work out if this is cool, terrifying, or both.
  • Compiled a gorgeous selection of photographs of the most beautiful and innovative bookshops in the world. I am sad about the lack of representation of Hay-on-Wye, but deeply envious of some of the ones that are on the list. Portugal especially have apparently nailed “awesome bookshop”.
  • Interesting fellow on OKCupid showed me his music (this is not a euphemism), so naturally I am going to share it with the internet: Add Gray Fun. The two tracks I’ve listened to are sort of sparse and build tunes out of discord, which I’m very fond of as a feature in electronica. Professionally speaking I think they definitely need mixing & mastering – some work on the levels – and would personally have an annoying faff with reverb in places but overall I rather like it.
  • This fuzzy-haired scientist has an apparently supportable theory that cats make us bonkers. When you add up all the different ways it can harm us, says Flegr, “Toxoplasma might even kill as many people as malaria, or at least a million people a year.” Well, that’s not terrifying at all.
  • This Tumblr user is using police photo-fit software to try to recreate the faces of famous literary characters as described by their authors. What a fantastic concept!
  • Josie Long takes on UniLadMag and does so wonderfully.
  • When Same-Sex Marriage Was a Christian Rite. Fascinating to me, and I do have a copy of a book with a title along the lines of “Same Sex Unions in Medieval Europe” waiting for me to finish reading the thousands of other books I’ve acquired and get around to it.
  • Written about The Invention of Heterosexuality, which examines how other areas of social change during the birth of psychiatry as a profession led to the creation of sexual identities connected to biological urges, and the value judgements that come with them.
  • People Like Me, a very depressing list of unfair treatment you can expect to receive if you’re viewed as being “unacceptably” fat.
  • A handy little interactive graph for women to use to determine which clothing size their measurements make them at any given clothing shop.
  • An Eight-Step Guide To Self-Editing Your Manuscript. On, completely unrelated, a very pretty blog.
  • Via that link, a useful website for determining how often you use particular words. I am cringing just imagining what would come up on mine.
  • And an io9 article about what the problem is with adverbs
  • As a confirmed over-emotional weenie about the city I live in who buys maps and cries every time she lands back at Heathrow and owns an embarrassing number of books of London photography, this post about London set to music is rather moving.
  • This fascinating blog over at Tiger Beatdown about how reality television and blogging have destroyed the ability of readers and viewers to appreciate the difference between performance and reality.
  • A very funny review of what sounds like a very awful movie (Splice).
  • In a rather timely coincidence, not long after I whined that I’d be more inclined to eat healthily if healthy food were more convenient, a friend of mine discovered COOK, who have made that leap for me.

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Making a dress, Des Anges-fashion.

Having had a fit of pique in John Lewis and purchased an unfeasible quantity of grey and black striped jersey at a knock-down price (I suspect the knock-down price was eventually what motivated me), with the intention of “making a dress” with it, I then unfortunately had to follow through.

I am far from the world’s most adept seamstress, in part because I was raised by a former pattern-cutter and diligent maker of clothes who wouldn’t let me anywhere near the industrial Singer whose hum still haunts my dreams, or the (left-handed and therefore impossible for me to use) extremely sharp and very heavy sewing shears whose snip snip also serenades my memories. Less poetically: easier for mummy to do it than me. I’ve thrown together the odd garment (and very odd they are too), and a pirate costume, but these were at least five years ago and after I sliced a lump out of my hand in the careless trimming of fleece I left the sewing machine alone aside from repairs.

And so it was that when I came to cobble together this frock that I’d forgotten the most important components of sewing:

  • Procrastination
  • Swearing
  • Bloodshed
  • Hanging threads
  • Contempt for written instructions.

The pattern in question is V8280, a Vogue Easy Options wriggle dress which I had to buy in the size far too small for me a few years ago for reasons to tedious to go into here but which involve a flight to Sweden.

The intended garment

The first obstacle the debonair and dashing seamstress (that’s me, by the way) must face is figuring out where the glazed fuck she left her dress patterns in the post-firebombing Dresden tribute act that is her shoebox-sized flat. Appropriately enough they turned out to be on top of a box, on top of a wardrobe, in an actual shoebox. These were retrieved with the assistance of Tall Boyfriend, who stood on a chair.

I’d already decided that my previous method of pattern-cutting (clear the floor, pin fabric to the carpet, repeatedly stand on pins, knacker knees and back trying to cut something which is pinned to the floor, cry, cut chunk out of hand) was not going to be sufficient this time, and so I loaded everything I though I would need into a carrier bag and tramped off through the park to my dear friend Maud’s house, because she has a table. Technically I also have a table but it is about the size of a man’s palm and has three computers and a bookchair on it.

This led to special ingredient #1, procrastination. Laying out the fabric, lining up the stripes, and discovering that as I didn’t have sewing weights I would have to use coffee and sugar in jars all seemed very productive, so I then sat around having a chat about nothing in particular for rather longer than I should have. Then I repeatedly laid the paper pattern out the wrong way (this part is meant to go against the fold; this part is supposed to go this way to the grain of the fabric) because I was too busy having a charming and fruitless chitchat about fuck-all.

I was transported back to childhood by the sound of shear-snips, rolled up my cut pieces still pinned to their patterns, and slogged off in the dark through the park once more (stopping, because it was a clear night, to look up at the full moon and whichever stars the North London sky was prepared to let me see); when I got home, of course, I had another lengthy procrastination session because it was “too late”, and I decided I was going to watch Warrior instead.

I think I was justified

The following day I put Tom Hardy aside (temporarily) to move onto contempt for written instructions.

The dress I was constructing was made from jersey. This immediately rendered lining a pointless waste of time, energy, money, and my very limited patience, so I struck from the instructions any reference to lining. I also hate “ease stitching” because I’m never convinced I’m doing it entirely right, and therefore ignored most of that, too. Had I not made this dress once before I would probably have ignored the darts and ended up with a baggy mess, but not this time. Score one for diligence against my inherent laziness.

I then proceeded to sew one of the armhole caps the wrong way wrong and have to unpick it, leading to to the star (but by no means the finish) of swearing.

Swearing continued, accompanied with hanging threads, through the construction of the bodice, then the skirt. This culminated in a brief moment of giddy triumph when the instructions claimed I need a zip, and I didn’t have a zip, and I wasn’t fucking going to get a zip, and I realised that the material was probably stretchy enough to let me pull it on and off without any sort of fastening. So I displayed further contempt for written instructions, and forged ahead.

Bloodshed occurred when I had to rectify another mistake with the shoulder-pieces, twisting sections inside out to sew them down and succeeding primarily in stabbing myself repeatedly in all my fingers with sewing pins.

It was only while hemming that I realised my contempt for written instructions had perhaps been a touch misplaced, and that in order to stop the front of the bodice from flopping down over my breasts like a sad bloodhound’s jowls, I would need to sew up the bodice to the armholes a little higher. This would, however, result in no longer being able to pull the thing over my head, and then I’d need a zip after all because there was no way corset lacing (my go-to closure because banging grommets into cloth only requires a hammer) was going to work with unreinforced jersey!

In the end I opted not to sew the bodice to the sleeves but rather have strategically-placed poppers covered up with the lovely buttons I’d bought to be decorations down the front. This required swearing and bloodshed as my  needlework is not the most coordinated and it was getting on for 11pm by then.

Successfully rescuing my frock from hubris, I continued with my original plan of sewing on some lace ribbon I bought from Etsy.com around the waistline to cover for the fact I can’t line up stripes with any level of success break up the monotony and stop me looking so much like a blimp. This involved a multitude of hanging threads and swearing but was at least thankfully very light on the bloodshed as my fingers were starting to go numb by then.

the finished article

None too shabby, although I suppose there are those who might say that ladies of my not inconsiderable girth shouldn’t wear horizontal stripes (to whom I say “bugger you”). This was sized up from a UK14 to my size, a UK22, by guesswork alone, and the fact that I got such an entirely accurate fit from it amazes me no end! The hanging threads still need trimming, and I’ve a suspicion one of the buttons will escape at an awkward moment, but I think that’s gone a lot better than my adventures in cooking ever have done.

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