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Easter Art Dump

What do you do when you’ve spent most of the weekend compulsively making dresses but have no photos to show for it and want to look like you ever do anything with your life besides complain angrily about a lack of Android apps for plotting (seriously though all I want is moveable text squares on a grid, with an option for turning the thing into a document)?

You … draw things aggressively and don’t finish most of the things you’re drawing because you’re shit, that’s what you do.

warning, contains breasts and other anatomical items

Step one: take a well-known painting of a “beautiful woman” and make her into a “fat beautiful woman” in a fit of militant variety.

a lot of these statues are somewhat questionable in their content

Step two: take a photograph by your Resident Australian from the Victoria and Albert Museum, and do an art on it, creating three layers of art. The sculpture, the photo of the sculpture, and the drawing of the photo of the sculpture, so that artifice removes us so far from the original bodies that we ought to have an unrecognisible scribble. And lo: it is!

tiny pictures

I actually did some preparation for this (and it’s far from finished): these are from general crowd shots taken in the garden at the V&A, so that I could practice drawing groups. The pictures are much larger and I’m doing the scenes in small squares.

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Jewellery sale part the millionth

Yeah this thing is still going on, I’m afraid, and there’s more, yet more to be photographed. When is she going to post more actual content? I hear you cry. When I have content to post and not just endless scads of jewellery to get out of my damn house, that’s when.

Click on image for listing as usual

click on image for listing

click on image for listing

click on image for listing

click image for listing

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Sewing: Spring dresses.

Or summer dresses, or whatever you like – I’ve had to resort to making my own this year as the wheel of style has turned in the fashion world, and it has turned towards colours that make my eyes vomit and styles clearly aimed at people who do not remember 1995 with the clarity and horror that I do.

Number one was Simplicity Sewing Pattern 2917 BB, which looked like it would be a pleasant fitted dress with princess seams, designed to  flatter the form without clinging too extensively.


And what actually happened, when I’d followed the pattern exactly and done all the interfacing and ironing and seam clipping as told, and all of the understitching and the edge zigzagging and the fiddly rubbish, was that it turns out that Simplicity and I have different ideas about how big my waist measurement is, and I should therefore have cut the pattern size down from the one that I used, because – despite having measured myself pretty thoroughly beforehand – the clothing company decided to lie about how loose-fitting to that measurement it was going to be.


Et voila: a lovely well-ironed spring green cotton sack with princess seams. In theory I could take it in a little, I suppose, but in practice it looks like a sack, and the pattern pieces in a couple of places are build in such a way that I can’t even just cut the smaller version of the pattern. Thanks, Simplicity.


On the other hand this ribbon was cheap from Walthamstow (from a shop called Ribbonz) so I thought I might as well jazz up the armholes. Not a sentence you hear very often.

Number two, on the other appendage, was cobbled together out of an undersized coat pattern, some extension panels, and a full circle skirt worked out with maths that I didn’t trust and then should have trusted, plus an extending overlay at the back because it turns out that a full circle skirt only really works if you have a completely flat arse.

Also, this was the world’s most irritating fabric to work with and would not stay where it was put and yet somehow the end result is significantly less sack-like:

full skirt

I’m beginning to believe that success or failure in the field of dressmaking has less to do with whether you follow the pattern properly or prepare the fabric or take measurements or anything else: it’s just down to whether the evil malignant god of the sewing machine decides to smile on you, or shit on you.

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Or, the answer to the question “how do I turn my gleeful pleasure in embroidering tiny things into something people might wear?”. Previous experiments with embroidering on t-shirts or vests were met with a ringing silence, and involved a lot of effort, so I thought this might be a rather better compromise.

But first I made some William Morris buttons.

Click for listing.

Click for listing

A little glow-in-the-dark moon and stars on black velvet, for variety.

Click for listing

White shirt cotton with black embroidered “TEA”, black velvet with glow-in-the-dark embroidered “GIN”, for illuminating different sides to one’s character.

Well, I thought it was funny.

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Sewing: I think they’re longs rather than shorts.

Editorial note: the blogger discovered the fabric shops in Walthamstow are a) a thirty minute tube ride away on in a zone her work travelcard already covers, and b) incredibly cheap, and also c) more numerous than sand particles currently are in the skins above London. This has led to the acquisition of a lot of fabric, a lot of really silly trims (what am I planning to do with two metres of red velvet ribbon embroidered with enormous roses? I don’t know but I’m reassured that it is in my possession), and two pairs of trousers… well, a pair of trousers and some shorts/longs:

Button flies are the new black.

Button flies are the new black.

Back view

A few notes:

  • Canvas is so much easier to work with than horrible stretch fabrics and stupid velvet.
  • It turns out that ironing the seams open makes everything better and then sewing over the folded over bits makes everything tidier! WHO KNEW.
  • Also the machine needle decided to snap twice on the same stretch of cuff for no reason I could readily work out, which was an experience. At some point in my life I plan to make clothing without having to duck.
  • What you can’t tell from these photos is that the cuffs have zips in them so that I can – er, later, when I’ve put on loops and buttons – roll them up and make them into shorts rather than longs.

front view back view

This stuff was also a dream to work with because it doesn’t slide around and stays where it’s put, but it has been a bit fray-ish since I finished the garment off and as I lined it I can’t really go and bias bind the bloody seams. Oh well, we live, and some of us learn. Not me, apparently.

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Jewellery Sale: Still Coming

Click on image for listing.

Click image for listing.


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Book Launch: Brown Bread Boys, A Tragedy

The time has come to let this particular manuscript into the wild! I’m very fond of this one (I’m fond of all my books, but don’t tell anyone – I hear that kind of thing comes off as arrogance in the wrong circles), and it was pretty much incredibly good fun to write from start to finish.

Hopefully it’ll be good fun to read from start to finish, too: a contemporary take on Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar without the politics but with a chilling, ancient blood magic and feuding London gangs, replete with a diverse cast of characters and familiar places.

Cover photo by J Reilly

The King is dead: long live the King. Or so the echoes suggest. But Craig Williamson has barely murdered his way to total dominance of his London crime family when already his lieutenants are plotting against him: not greedy, just concerned. Or so they say.

One thing is for sure: whoever wins, it’s bad news for the police, who still don’t know how to prosecute or even properly investigate the gruesome, ancient blood magic used by the gun…

…even the gang themselves don’t fully understand it.

Brown Bread, Boys is available to buy in print from Amazon or Lulu, as a variety of eBook formats from Lulu (and a few other places), and as a Kindle .mobi from Amazon (UK | US) – there’s almost no end of ways you can pick up and devour this story. Except by literally picking it up and eating it, because that is a bad way to read a book.

Other books I’ve written are listed here.

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Massive jewellery clearance sale Part 3

Oh this just keeps coming. I cannot tell you how much jewellery there is in my house because I cannot count to those kind of numbers.


Necklaces = £5

Bracelets = £2

Earrings = £1


Click on the pictures for the listings, and there’s more (oh god so much more) at my Etsy shop.

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Sewing: William Morris US Civil War Frock Coat

Adventures in swearing and sewing continue. This time saw the purchase of a folding picnic table, which has taken cutting out pattern pieces from “impossible and agonising” to merely “very annoying and painful”, as it turns out that my shears work perfectly well when there’s a solid surface to cut against which isn’t the bloody carpet. I cannot express how silly my extremely small flat looks with a large outdoor trestle table dominating pretty much all of it and how extremely silly I looked hopping over the sofa and under the table to get around to the right parts of the pattern.

One of the most important things the BBC’s Great British Sewing Bee has taught me is that one should always read the pattern from start to finish before beginning. What it has not taught me, and which I have repeatedly had to learn on my own, is that about 50% of the pattern instructions are vague to the point of incomprehensibility, the diagrams were created by people who have never sewn anything in their lives, and large chunks of the process (in this case: interfacing) can be readily discarded as pointless and time-consuming. Ease-stitch this, McCalls.

The bane of this particular sewing experience, apart from “pattern matching is for sissies” and “obviously I intended to be half up and half down, shut up”, has been the tendency of the new doom sewing machine (this one has a proper brand name and everything as opposed to the John Lewis Own Brand Infernal Hell Machine of Endless Noise, and I can hear the TV over it) to casually turn the output of the bobbin into an argumentative hellish mess. Maintaining consistent tension has also been a matter of some consternation, but thankfully working with upholstery fabric rather than fiddly dress-making material has saved me from some otherwise infuriating moments. I definitely recommend taking “this is supposed to be for a duvet cover” for all your coat needs.

William Morris 1

Also pictured: a cheap, two-layered wrap-around silk skirt I picked up in Camden market, and my terrible lack of regard for combining patterns according to any sort of sensible rule of fashion.

Oh and the buttons are modelled after Roman coins. I found them on Etsy and decided that if one is going to bastardise the basic notion of the frock coat as a military garment, and make one’s first foray into it by combining pattern A and pattern B with a cavalier disregard for the results, then one may as well do it while wearing the blurred and corroded face of an unknown Emperor five times in a row. I shall just have to be grateful that my past self decided not to embroider anything on this one.


Those pleats played absolute havoc and had to be unpicked several times (thank god I used a long stitch) because the instructions might as well have read “pin the pattern to the wall, set fire to the fabric, then clothe yourself in the ashes as desired” for all the bloody good they were.


The sleeves and shoulders are a touch too long as the pattern is for a gentleman with my size chest, rather than for the slope-shouldered, stump-armed monstrosity wearing it, but overall for something hacked out in two days with no prior knowledge of the pattern, very little experience of making coats, continual swearing, a McCalls pattern full of bogus instructions and mad diagrams, having to hand sew the lining at the waist (what kind of cruel god would dictate that? A fucking McCalls god, apparently), and the requisite broad scattering of pin-related injuries – only one bad enough to cause any profuse bleeding this time, which counts as a victory – it’s not bad.

I’m going to wear it to Kew next time I go.

(Pictured above are the boots which are currently breaking me in rather than the other way around:


They’re painful and they’re winning. I had to limp back from Edward II at the BFI and I’m not sure the blisters were worth it, even if Derek Jarman’s masterpiece was … well … very Derek Jarman.


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Massive jewellery clearance sale Part 2

There is yet more after this. Please, dear god, take it out of my house.

As always, click on the image for the listing.

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