Drag Race Season 8 predicto-post

After a few hundred years of waiting, RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 8 (8!) is nearly here. There’s a very good chance I’m going to be eating my words and/or deleting this post out of shame once we hit mid-season, but this news fills me with joy. And these are the reasons why.

The concept for the promos is beautiful. Anything vintage appeals to me anyway, but in choosing this retro hair salon theme, Drag Race has landed on a style that can make everyone look gorgeous while expressing their own personal style. And the colours – pastel yellow, lilacs and greens – are gorgeous.

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Season 7 was basically the worst thing to ever happen to my telly. It was full of mad decisions and horrible, repetitive tasks that didn’t let queens with natural charm show their true talents. The focus was taken away from the runway and heaped on the terrible challenges, leading to entirely the wrong people leaving. Hopefully the producers have learned their lesson and will keep it down to just the one scripted acting challenge.

And Violet – VIOLET – won.

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VIOLET.

Yes, Sharon, Jinkx and Bianca had signature looks, but they also had talent, ideas, charm, and causes to champion. They had the skills to hold a room enthralled with their performance and the ability to land a joke. And then we had Violet. Who looks pretty in some amazing dresses. VIOLET.

Katya Zamolodchikova saved that series ten times over.

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And finally, 8 is my favourite number. You may think this is superstitious nonsense, but I *really* hate 7 and look how that season turned out.

So I’ve watched Meet the Queens, looked at their faces and made some snap decisions Here is the order I predict these gals will be sashaying away.

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CHI CHI DEVAYNE: She is 30 but looks about 20. She uses unconventional materials, which always works well. Her MTQ skips attempts at humour and goes straight for catchphrases.

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I suspect her best contribution to the series will be one-liners in the confessional booth. I’m going to call her JDF 0.2.

The one thing I want to learn about Chi Chi before she leaves is this – is that lemon photoshopped onto her cardie?

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NAYSHA LOPEZ: Pageant girls are always kind of boring. Like a cartoon goldfish, I keep forgetting she is a member of this years cast. Which is surprising as she claims in her MTQ to have invented Drag Race. Her MTQ is desolate, sad and full of ennui. Which makes me think she filmed this after being sent home.

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But she did give us this face, which is something I will always be grateful for.

 


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DERRICK BARRY: who appears to use a real-life clone stamp on her wigs.

Following in the footsteps of Chad Michaels (who is one of my all time favourites) and the Cher thing, it’d be interesting to see if Derrick can do anything other than be a passable Miss Spears. Because the whole ‘it’s Britney, bitch’ schtick is going to get very old very quickly.

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Fiercer indeed.

 


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DAX EXCLAMATION POINT: Her MTQ look is just beautiful – a Star Trek alien goes to a rodeo – but it doesn’t really let her embrace the cosplay look she wants to be known for. She hardly makes eye-contact with the camera, which is unsettling. I feel like her introductory video tells us nothing about her but…

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She’s kinda serious. And you know what happens when a serious girl want to revolutionise drag?

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CYNTHIA LEE FONTAINE: has a hypnotic chin and THE weirdest laugh. A big open mouth and a tiny little noise. I love the way she says ‘yes’ at the end of each sentence. She sits like delicate bird crossed with a woman at the back of The Queen Vic in 1987. I think I love her. Why have I put her so low? I don’t even know anymore.

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LAILA MCQUEEN: The second coming of Adore Delano with an injection of deadpan. But is she polished enough? Does she have that star quality that Ru likes to see in random people? I reckon she’d be great to share a pint with but can she wow the judges every week on the runway? They should call her Laila McQuestion.

 


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NAOMI SMALLS: The high fashion hood rat. When she talks its pretty dull, but there’s no denying she looks impossibly gorgeous. Long legs and a flawless face are fair enough, but whether she can perform and hold an audience’s attention is another thing entirely.

 


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KIM CHI: Avant-garde. Conceptual. Whether she’s fun remains to be seen; her MTQ video seemed quite timid.

She’s BFFs with Trixie Mattel, who was a source of much drama, confusion and online fury last year. Her style of drag didn’t gel with what the producers wanted to achieve in Season 7, and her appeal was lost on me. Having seen her live, however, I was completely smitten. Hopefully, the Gods of Drag Race will learn from these mistakes and embrace Kim Chi.

I’m looking forward to some insane runway looks and an opportunity for her low-key humour to shine.

 


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ROBBIE TURNER: She’s best buds with Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme. Those two were not only two of my favourite queens on Drag Race, but also two of the best live shows I’ve ever seen. I love her campy vintage aesthetic – everything she wears in the promo is beautiful. That green frock is to die for. So I have high hopes – but when I look into her eyes I see Kelly Mantle leaving early. And I just can’t shake that off.

 


acid_betty

ACID BETTY: Based on her MTQ, I wasn’t too sure. But having seen a few of her looks in the promo, I can’t wait to see just how creative she’ll go. She’s the oldest this year, and it would be great to see a mature queen not leave in the first week. She tries to paint herself as the bitch, but it would be nice to see a little bit of wisdom in the mix too.

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(Full disclaimer: I just watched the preview of episode 1 and she seems interminable and try hard so I don’t know anymore. But she did give us this face so there is that.)

 


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THORGY THOR: She has my absolute favourite style of all the promos. I want to look like Thorgy Thor. I would fight her to steal everything she’s wearing.

I loved her MTQ. She’s smart and funny. She’s considered in the way she talks; some of the other queens would do well to learn from her ability to make every sentence count. She wants to have fun! Thank GOD. This is something Season 7 was severely lacking.

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AND she’s rubbish at emojis just like me! I want her to be my best friend so we can be crap at replying to text messages together.

 


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BOB THE DRAG QUEEN: We have a winner! While I don’t think the promos showed her best look, her MTQ video was charming, witty, irreverent and made me laugh. Like, actually hoot. And it wasn’t a mad Cynthia laugh either. I don’t know how best to explain it, but if Ru is looking for someone who has indefinable star quality, in Bob The Drag Queen I think she’s finally found it.

 


I’ve already started adding some of my Season 8 illustrations to my Etsy shop, so have a look to see if your favourite is there already…

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Mother’s Day with Peggy Mitchell

Eastenders is built on matriarchs. For many years now I’ve prattled on about how Eastenders should forget about all that gangster nonsense and focus on the women – both the evil and the hard-done-by – of Albert Square.

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The men might shoot each other, crash their cars or chuck each other off bridges, but its the ladies at home dealing with the emotional fallout who make the memorable scenes.

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Don’t get me wrong; the women of E20 are just as capable of killing someone with domestic items like a kitchen knife, a statue of Queen Victoria or a dog-shaped doorstop, but the reasons are generally to do with lust, betrayal and jealousy rather than over the male pride associated with ownership of a garage.

TheBealesLegendary characters such as Arthur Fowler, Phil Mitchell, Den Watts and Ian Beale would not have achieved their status without their ballsy wives, mothers and daughters to disappoint, be betrayed by and rebel against (with varying levels of success). Without the ladies, the show would just be a load of bored men drinking bitter. An East End Grumpy Old Men.

Mother’s Day is here and I’ve been thinking a fair bit about the mums of Albert Square.  There are a few varying styles of raising kids that we’ve seen over the years; perhaps none quite as legendary as today’s subject.

(Yes – I have based it on who I’ve done illustrations of. I’m not ashamed)

Seeing as she’s leaving soon, let’s talk about:

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PEGGY MITCHELL

Mother to Phil, Grant and Samantha, Peggy is Albert Square’s answer to Violet Kray with a voucher for Bravissimo.

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Rupert Smith, author of EastEnders: 20 Years in Albert Square, quite rightly says that Peggy is a matriarch, assuming “papal infallibility. Whatever anybody does — particularly her own children — she knows better.”

Peggy assumes maternal duties to anyone with the Mitchell surname. Its just that these duties mostly include telling them what to do. She was step-mother to Diane, Ricky and Janine, but I don’t remember any particular fondness or loyalty for the Butcher kids lingering after her marriage to Frank fell apart.

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(Let’s ignore the fact that Ricky eloped with her teenage daughter and Janine was a delicious bitch to everyone. They were just rebelling against her. Right?)

Will anyone love her boys as much as Peggy does? Peggy loves Phil and Grant so much she basically ruins their lives. The Mitchell brothers are incapable of having a sensible romantic relationship and much of this can be traced back to what they learned from their parents. I’m quite happy to blame their bullying dad Eric for this, but Peggy has done her fair share of meddling and kiboshing. There’s not been many women she’s approved of, and those that she has liked have been scared off by her sons’ learned behaviour. Except for Stella, and she doesn’t count because she was evil.

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We’ve all had silly fights with our parents, but Peggy has raised her boys to resent her as much as they depend on her. Her relationship with Phil is certainly one based on spite. One throwaway paragraph from Wikipedia says ‘Phil sells Grant’s share in the pub to local businessman Dan Sullivan for £5. Peggy loathes Dan, and the two frequently row over the running of the pub. Eventually, she and Phil call a truce and force Dan out of Walford’. Just another day in the life of the Mitchell family.

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The 90s

IDEA: Do a flowchart to show the levels of love and hate that flow between Peggy, her children, The Vic and Other People, and how they affect each other. I’m not sure I’m up to the Herculean task.

All this came to a bit of a head when Peggy stuck her oar in over Phil’s terrible parenting technique and took her grandaughter Louise to Lisa against Phil’s wishes. Lisa, being a bit of a nightmare, does a runner. Phil blames Peggy, then morphs into Dribble Snot Crack Phil who promptly destroys the one thing she loves more than or equal to the Mitchell family – her pub.

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Peggy saying goodbye to a broken Phil was a genuinely moving moment, enhanced by the brilliant performances of Steve McFadden and Barbara Windsor. As her world crumbled around her, poor Peggy realised that perhaps her method of mother-knows-best was actually destroying her family. So she walked away.

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And yet, Peggy can’t help herself. She still pops up on a sun lounger to dictate what Phil can and can’t do, most memorably when it came to Phil’s marriage to Sharon.

Oh. Sharon. The one woman above all who can rival Peggy for the love of her two boys, emotional connection to The Vic, and ridiculous hair.

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And then there’s Sam! How could we forget Samantha!

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When writing this I had to keep reminding myself that Sam existed. I sometimes wonder if Peggy does too. Who among you remembers that Samantha has a son called Richard? I didn’t, and I haven’t missed an episode for 15 years. I had to look it up.

Interestingly enough, I read that Hilary Kingsley (author the EastEnders Handbook) described Sam as being “a lot sharper than her brothers”. Which is odd, as I mostly remember her being pretty thick. Sam seems to have existed solely as a means for various people to cheat other people out of The Vic.

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Peggy is controlling mother and a non-plussed stepmother. She must be a wicked Nan, right? Nans get all the fun jobs without the hassle of having the kids live with you for 18 years. Werther’s Originals tumbling out of every pocket and comforting words in front of Countryfile? Not so much.

Peggy’s grandchildren are frequently compelled to leave The Square. The only one that has stuck around has been Ben. And he’s a bully, an idiot, a terrible Dad, and a pretty awful boyfriend. Oh, and a murderer. He’s just a rubbish human generally, regardless of which head he’s currently sporting.

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A mother’s love

I think maybe I’ve portrayed poor Peggy as a bit of a battleaxe, but she had fun moments. There was that drunken incident with Pat in the ice-cream van, which I still don’t completely understand, but I gather people enjoyed it. The misery of Eastenders certainly sticks in my brain more than the comedy bits (this is frequently a blessing).

It’ll be interesting to see how they deal with Peggy’s upcoming return and demise. After all, Pat had a rather complicated relationship with her giant brood. Her death provided some amazing moments as the people of the Square who viewed her as a mother figure came to terms with their relationships with her. And part of me is still screaming about THAT post-credits Wicksy moment.

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Also: Hel-lo silvery Nick Berry

With rumours of Grant and possibly Sam coming home to say their goodbyes only to be met with a drunken Phil and a new Louise we can expect some extreme shouting and some snotty crying. Maybe even some punching! And that’s just in my household. AHAHAHA.

Lets just hope its not a repeat of Pauline’s departure. Wasn’t that weird?

So. Peggy. Whether you measure it in catchphrases or fashion choices, she is one of the most iconic women in soap. You can insert your own platitude about her being tiny in stature but big in status here. You get the idea. Her style of motherhood equates love with control – with an extra dose of shouting. And while her family tree may not be the largest in Eastenders history, there’s no denying that her and her boys have been some of the most important characters in 35 years of Albert Square.

 

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OH! And while I’m at it, I’ve done a range of Peggy stuff to match my Dot stuff. You can grab yourself a card or a tote bag (handmade by myself) from my Etsy shop. She may be departing E20 forever, but now you can always wear her on your arm (and fill her with your shopping).

 

 

 

The Slapdash Sewer: Dos and Don’ts of depicting Tooting Bec Lido in fabric.

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There are a many things that are brilliant about Tooting Bec Lido. Go for a dip in the summer and feel like you’re on a seaside holiday in London; go in winter and exchange all sorts of juicy gossip in the sauna after freezing every last part of your existence in the unheated pool.

This summer I went for a swim in a hail storm. I had a (nearly) 100m expanse of water all to myself. I felt sorry for the lifeguards, but I had a wicked time being chucked about in the water by the elements. It was the best kilometre I ever swam, and I found leaves in all sorts of thrilling places when I got changed.

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This year is a pretty significant birthday for my Mum, who is a slightly obsessive Lido-er. And as an advocate of time-being-worth-money (especially when you’re as broke as I am), I thought a handmade lidoey present might be appropriate. Plus, all mums like stuff made by their kids, don’t they? Even if those kids are in their 30s? Right?

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DO use a simple design. As you get a bit cocky you can add flourishy bits to it later, but its best to start off with the basics so you can get the foundations of the image. I based mine on the photo above, which worked nicely as:

a) there were a lot of lines which all zoomed towards the same vanishing point,

b) the background to foreground was clearly defined from top (the sky) to bottom (the water), which makes layering fabric a slightly smaller headache, and

c) it is clearly divided into several sections which can be sewn apart and joined together at the end.

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DO sketch your pattern at the vague size you want to do it so you can refer back to it as you go along (I taped a load of A4 sheets together to act as a guide). Use this template to help you work out what fabrics to choose and how to lay them out. And once you’ve done that…

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DON’T forget to take a photo of the layout as you like it. Even if you decided to shuffle certain bits around, you will thank me when you have a picture on your phone to remind yourself what the hell you were thinking when all this started. For areas like the water, this was a godsend.

DON’T be afraid to draw on your base. Cut a piece of sturdy white cotton to a slightly bigger size than the template. Its going to get completely covered by other fabric, so use a sharpie to mark important lines which you an refer back to as you progress.

DO prepare to be adaptable. Assume the size will change as you sew. You’ll add extra bits and shift stuff around. I initially planned on doing a cushion, but things got out of hand and it ended up as a wall-hanging! After all, a wall-hanging can be as big or as small as you like…

DON’T skip making templates. I always bodge stuff when I can, but this will save a lot of pain later. I used my initial sketch to trace a couple of extras which I then cut up to pin onto my fabric. When it comes to perspective (especially the receding doors) getting the size right is very important- and getting the perspective right will help keep the image clear and dynamic.

DO raid your cupboards for old scraps you can use. This is to be a one-of-a-kind memento, so I wanted to use fabrics that mean something. Unfortunately my Nan died late last year, so I wanted to use some of the fabric she gave me for Mum’s present. The reflections of the doors were made from Mum’s old school uniform, some of the maternity shirt from when Nan was pregnant with Auntie Sarah, and the offcuts from a Chanel-style suit Nan made herself. The dark areas of the water and the clouds were some cuttings from a blouse (I think).

DON’T sew everything straight onto your backing piece. Its easier to work in small sections, e.g. the sky, the trees, the two sets of doors, the water. This will let you adapt for any small mistakes you make and enable you to adjust the design until the very last minute. Your sewing machine will also thank you.

DO remember to cut all those tails of cotton thread from the back. Things will get even more confusing than they need to be if you don’t.

DO embrace the art of pinning. Rather than putting your pins back in the cushion as you sew, keep placing them in unsewn areas of the design. This will keep the fabric in position and as flat as possible.

DON’T OVER SEW. Use a buttonhole zigzag for edges that will be on show – this will prevent the fabric getting raggedy and you can trim odd threads at the end (see above right). However this stitch can get pretty chunky. Do too many of these on top of each other and your sewing machine will freak out. If there’s something that won’t be seen but could do with being held in place (such as sky on the image above left), use a boring old stress-free running stitch.

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And while I’m at it…

DO experiment with contrasting threads. Remember the old rule that white pushes things forward and black pushes them back – so use this to add more perspective to your piece.

 

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DON’T FREAK OUT when everything starts falling into place and your base fabric gets heavy and unwieldy. As you sew, roll the right-hand side so that it fits through the middle of the sewing machine. It will be much easier to control and keep everything in place.

DO SEW SLOWLY WHEN YOU NEED TO. If you sew each section separately, you can muck about with putting shapes under or over others. Pin them down when you’ve settled on a layout. When you start to sew, use your fingers to carefully hold back and manipulate overlapping fabrics without having to constantly remove them from the machine and re-pin.

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DON’T FINISH THE FOUR EDGES TILL THE LAST MINUTE. The picture above was taken when the piece was basically finished. As I had made the base slightly larger than I wanted – essentially acting as a ‘bleed’ – some bits of white will show through. To ensure my edges were nice and neat I planned on using a border, The bleed lets you finish those edges without losing too much of the picture itself.

HOW TO MAKE A BORDER

1. Sew a piece of black cloth to the back of your mural using a running stitch, ensuring that you sew near the edges that will eventually be hidden by your border.

2. Cut 2 pieces of black cloth slightly longer than the length of your two vertical sides, 6cm wide. Cut 1 piece the same width, but slightly longer than the bottom side.

3. Pin one piece to the edge of your mural, right sides together.

4. Sew using a running stitch, with a 1.5 cm seam.

5. Fold this over at that seam (away from the mural) and iron to make a crisp edge.

6. Flip the entire piece over. Fold the flappy bit of the border down so that its top edge meets the edge of the mural back. Iron it flat. Fold it over again so that the crease is flush to the edge of the mural. Pin it down

7. Sew down the middle with a running stitch. Trim the length so that it is square to the edge of the mural

8. Repeat for the other vertical side.

9. Repeat for the bottom side, but after you flip the mural over, fold in whatever extra fabric hangs over the edge to create a finished edge.

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You can either do the same for the top, or you can create a larger border for the wooden piece to slot through. Cut a piece of fabric the same length as the bottom, but twice as wide (in this case, 12cm). Fold it in two before you pin it. Repeat steps 3 (aligning it raw edge to raw edge) and 4. At this point fold it so that the bottom lines up with the stitches that are already there, leaving a gap of a couple of cm through the middle (pin it before sewing to test that the wood you have will fit through).

 

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DO live in a house where the picture hooks have been centred over the bed. I mean, look at it. Doesn’t it make you want to destroy the world?

 

 

All Stars 2 line-up revealed!*

*ish.

Oi, The Princess! Stop waiting by the phone. I’m sorry my dear, but you have not been selected … for my fantasy league of drag legends.

I’m sure many of you are aware that my opinions are so accurate that they are essentially fact. And so, here is the definitive list of who should be cast on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 2. Its been scientifically developed in a lab and shit, so any other choices are, in fact, rubbish. (Feel free to shout at me about it on social media, though.)


Alaska

Alaska, RuPaul's Drag Race Season 5, illustration by ThatAgnes

Alaska, RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 5, illustration by ThatAgnes

 Someone recently found my Etsy shop by searching for the word ‘anus’, which is something I’m very proud of indeed.

Honestly, Jinkx Monsoon is one of my all-time favourites. If only she and Alaska had been in different seasons. In any other line-up Alaska would have been hard to beat. Her runway looks are really under-rated, particularly the trash bag, the fish and the candy floss frocks. Have a look; she rarely put a foot wrong. BUT! She had the personality and performance to back it up.

AlaskaShe was weird, charming, gorgeous and stupid in the best possible way. Having only improved since Season 5 ended, she’s guaranteed a place in the All Stars final – surely?

She’s not a winner though; she’s become Drag Race’s most bankable star with her Brolaska and American Apparel stuff, and if you view this as a giant conspiracy theory*, that is compensation enough for not winning.

*which I obviously do.


Alyssa

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I’ll be completely honest, I didn’t understand Alyssa, Coco, Alyssa v Coco, or why either of them were on this infernal show. And then I watched Season 5 again, and then saw her live, and suddenly it just sort of clicked. I’m still confused about Coco, mind you, but baby steps and all that.

Alyssa is incredibly charismatic but with the added charm of not realising how. She waffles on and she tongue pops and is rubbish at acting and does not understand humour as any other human does, and I love her for this. Get her on All Stars and make her do stand-up comedy every week.

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BenDeLaCreme

BenDeLaCreme, RuPaul's Drag Race Season 6, illustration by ThatAgnes

BenDeLaCreme, RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 6, illustration by ThatAgnes

I was once told I looked like BenDeLaCreme. BOOM. She’s in my dream cast.

As DeLa she has an actual persona that is reflected in her clothes, comedy and movements. You can see that intelligent thought has gone into what she has done. (BenDeLaCreme should write a book so Serena Cha Cha can read it). She’s actually funny with enough vulnerability to make producers stay interested. Seeing her live was genuinely entertaining and hilarious (Take note, Pandora) ; she knows her craft and performs a planned show that is designed to be as good as possible. (Yeah, Raja, I’m talking to you).

If you don’t like BenDeLaCreme, you are utterly inexplicable.


Katya

Katya_flat_1Conspiracy theory time: The Drag Race producers underestimated how popular Katya would be. Maybe they didn’t realise how well her humour would come across, or even just how utterly likeable she would be compared to her castmates. Whatever. They ballsed up not having her in the final in favour of the twin personality-vacuums of Violet and Pearl. This was acknowledged in the final with the whole water thing. All Stars only has a second series (because, let’s face it, AS1 didn’t exactly flood my basement with glee) because they want to right that wrong.

KatyaWhy do you think she dressed as Abraham Lincoln? He was a president who was assassinated. Who else was assassinated? JFK. Only the second biggest* conspiracy of all time! Suddenly it all makes sense.

All Stars 2 is obviously going to result in a Katya vs Alaska final with Miss Zamolodchikova winning so why are we wasting time reading this nonsense?

*The first biggest conspiracy is Katya being in All Stars 2.


Mariahjoan

Mariah is like your Mum’s younger sister. The one who hasn’t stopped going out in short skirts and spends a lot of time at dinner pulling bitch faces over a double Tia Maria and coke.

She’s never going to win any awards for being hilarious or dangerous. But a season full of Pandora Boxes and Sharon Needles would be a living hell. *shudder*.  I’m curious to see more of her style and eager to hear more opinions on these up-and-coming bitches who don’t even know they’re born.

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Milan

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Because she entered the show dressed as a Broadway 70s pimp who grew up on the right side of the tracks.

She swiffered with her taint.

And then she gave us this:

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I want that gif on my gravestone.

Milan’s performance as Diana Ross is legendary. I wanted to use this as a basis for another illustration, but I genuinely found her make-up too unnerving to look at for more than a minute at a time.

She has absolutely no idea how she comes across, and how she comes across is a bit rubbish. If WOW want another idea for another spin-off show, can I suggest Milan and Alyssa as Butlins Redcoats in Minehead.


Pearl

Pearl Liaison

Pearl. Oh, Pearl. Pearly Pearl Pearl. I defended her so much during Season 7 (and seriously, that shower of shit had a lot to flasé-defend) but its looking increasingly difficult. She’s pissed off a few other Queens since the show (though, to be fair, pissing off Raja is no bad thing because that’s a lady who knows a thing or two about relying on a natty outfit) and I’ve heard disappointing things from fans (though they are Redditors* so, you know…).

During S7 I loved her laid back, confused attitude and made a series of photoshops involving her and Baby Pearl from Eastenders. I don’t know what she’d bring to All Stars, but we would get a new batch of gifs suitable for all sorts of tweets and tumblrs. That’s gif as in gif, not gif as in jif.

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Oh, here’s another reason: Pearl is also the cutest boy.

And if you want plenty of Pearl gifs, I suggest heading here.

*I AM ALSO A REDDITOR, so shush.


Raven (again)

The first episode of Drag Race I ever saw was Season 2, episode 3. Raven was rubbish as a giant chicken. I didn’t really have a clue what was going on. And then she came on dressed like this and I was in love:

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If you could look like anyone, you’d look like that, surely?

Raves seems to have the reputation of being a bitch, which I don’t get. She was just practical! She said sensible things; every criticism that left those giant lips was valid and and accurate. Maybe my inability to see the cuntiness makes me a bit of one too; but if it means I have something in common with Raven, that’s fine by me.

I know she’s been on All Stars before, but she can’t leave the country so this would give her something to do.


Shangela

Because why not? Shange seems to be contractually obliged to make an appearance every year or so. She started off pretty fucking ropey. She then got a bit less ropey. I saw her live earlier this year and fucking Nora, she had charisma leaking out of every orifice. I got it, and understood why Ru kept her hanging around. She’s cheesy, she looks good in a sparkly frock, and has half decent catchphrases (well, compared to flasé-da). It took me a long time, but now I’m proud to say that I LIKE SHANGELA.


Trinity

The best way to tell who has been cast in All Stars 2 is via a quick glance at Instagram. A lot of girls have been suspiciously quiet lately. Not poor Trinity, though. Girl needs to exercise some restraint when it comes to social media; her feed is a litany of vague relationship woes. Its tiresome.

I didn’t like Trinity at the start of Season 6. I went off her afterwards. My fondness for her lasted a week – pretty much the week she went home. On second thoughts, I’m not sure this makes her an ideal All Stars candidate, but Miss Bonet sure can lipsynch better than any other.


Willam

Well Wills keeps denying she’s in it so this is but a whimsical fantasy. She vommed on stage, came up with my never-to-be-beaten favourite Drag Race quote and does Beatdown.

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Also: Warner the dog is well cute. He’d do a really emotional inspirational video message in Untucked.


Vivacious

MOTHER HAS got her zip caught

I reckon Old Viv had a bad time with her editing. The producers shafted her. I don’t believe anyone could be that incompetent at reading a line with their head in a box. I mean, if Darienne could do it…

Anyway, Vivacious represented a form of drag we haven’t seen a huge amount of and was of an older generation who could add a bit of experience and wisdom to proceedings. I’d like some historical and cultural context to whatever the hell it is Ru gets them to do this time.

Or that’s the theory, anyway. If nothing else, she can just dress up as another sad S&M stegosaurus .

Dot Cotton’s Style Commandments

dot6

Here’s a stone cold fact: if Charlie and Dot Cotton wandered down to the pub today, they would be continually stopped by journalists wanting to shove them in a ‘London street style’ double page spread. (Obviously I’m talking about Classic Charlie Cotton, not Confusingly Northern and Boring in Bed Charlie Cotton)

dot10Sadly for Nick he seems to have mainly influenced the fashion choices of that singer from Towers of London who slept with Leo Sayer’s wife.

This face is my current life goal

Current life goal

If you are one of those vintage hipsters who likes afternoon tea and bunting, Dot Cotton basically made it possible for you to wear what you wear and have other people think you’re cool. And I don’t care if you’re too clever to watch soaps or don’t know who Dot is because you’re busy writing slam poetry recipes for sloe gin; if you shove your hair in rollers, have a cupboard bulging with your nan’s old handbags or wear jazzy blouses that wouldn’t look out of place in any British comedy post-1948, you can thank our Dot. (full disclosure: I am guilty of all these things and then some)

dot11KNOW WHAT WORKS. NEVER CHANGE.

“Well, Dot thinks she looks right smart in her wardrobe so there’s no need for her to march down to Marks & Spencer’s or Selfridges to get herself decked out. There’s no need at all.”

There is no way Dot subscribes to the ASOS newsletter. She cares not for modern nonsense like ra-ra skirts and skinny jeans, because she knows they just won’t suit her body shape. And by transcending modern fashion, she ends up dictating it. Dorothy is Walford’s answer to Jackie Kennedy. Change your accessories, sure, but keep the staple items, whether it is a fag, a pillbox hat, that burgundy bouffant or a little shift dress.

dot5

BEING THRIFTY MEANS BEING INDIVIDUAL

“It’s called consistency, dear… They always try to get me to wear new things but I graciously but firmly decline.”

The media waffle on about Princess Anne wearing the same frock twice, but when will Dorothy get the recognition she deserves? In the pictures above she’s wearing the same cardie, but clearly years apart. You’ll see that lilac floral blouse a few times over the years too. This woman knows how to treat her clothes so they last, and how to combine them with different items to create different looks.  Her vintage chic is so all-encompassing she still lives by rules of the Make Do And Mend lifestyle.

Don't get me started on the feelings I feel for Patrick.

Don’t get me started on the feelings I feel for Patrick.

BRIGHTEN UP A SAD SITUATION WITH A TOUCH OF COLOUR

Being in jail for not-really-killing your troublesome son is a real downer, especially when you genuinely feel guilty about it too. But who wouldn’t be cheered walking in to a prison waiting room and seeing some bright florals? That’s lovely Dorothy; always thinking of others. The sunshine and joy radiates from her.

Dot sticks to colours that suit her, ignoring the people who say the older generation should melt into the background. She’s always in a bold mustard or a strong lilac because fuck it; they suit her. Even that weird yellow strap that prisoners wear (is this a real life thing? What does it do?) does wonders for her complexion. So…

dot8KNOW THE COLOURS THAT WORK FOR YOU

If you can find a tone that perfectly matches your hair, lips, nails, and the skin around your eyes, Dot’s Law says you should throw in some paisley and wear that colour with pride. See the lust in Ethel’s eyes? Someone could be looking at you like that if you wear the right shade of red.

dot12SUFFER FOR YOUR LOOKS

“Everyone always thinks it’s a wig but it’s not. It’s all to do with curlers, dear. Curlers and patience. It takes about three quarters of an hour, which can be very tiresome indeed but I endure it for dear old Dot.”

All those mad feminists who say that people should ‘love you as you are’ have their hearts in the right place, but they clearly don’t know the pain of having limp hair. Those of us who believe ‘the higher the hair, the closer to God’ spend hours curling and teasing and sleeping on bulky rollers. And if you need to go to the shops, shove a scarf over the entire lot and style it out.

dot13

THE HANDBAG

It wouldn’t be a proper Dot look without a handbag nearby. I genuinely love Dot’s style of bag, and have loads in a variety of colours which I’ve found in charity shops over the years. You can carry them on your elbow, leaving a hand free for pointing, gesticulating or grasping a glass of sherry. They are sturdy and bulky, with plenty of room for your menthol ciggies or an emergency can of Pledge.

dot2STEAL STATEMENT ITEMS FROM YOUR FRIENDS

That amazing statement coat that Dot wore when she got engaged to Jim adds a hint of OTT glamour to her sensible tops and skirts. A giant fake fur collar instantly makes you feel slightly debauched. And, let’s face it, Dot could do with some debauchery on special occasions. While researching this ( I actually did research this rubbish) I discovered that Angie gave Dot her coat when she went to Spain.
Yes, June Brown is such a pro even her clothes have a backstory.

dot7STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD WITH ACCESSORIES

We’ve all had to wear uniforms at one time or another, which is pretty despressing for the style conscious among us. Dot’s tip? Accessorise. A string of pearls with matching earrings, a lovely brooch or a pussybow blouse peaking out from your collar. You can still express your personality whilst getting your job done responsibly.

Ethel’s accessory is her little Willy, of course.

ethel

Not all of us can carry of Dot’s style of course. And if you’ve reached this far, why not treat yourself to the ultimate in Walford style… a Dot Cotton 100% Cotton Bag with Dotty Lining? (the title needs a bit of work). They’re illustrated by me, and all individually sewn at home in South London. Perfect for filling with shopping or books or sherry, you can grab them in my Etsy now!

And here I am practicing what I preach:

Blouse from Tara Starlet, Cardie from M&S, Skirt from Collectif, Handbag was my Nan’s and the headscarf is vintage. My necklace a present from Mum.

Those Actual June Brown quotes come from the Walford Gazette Spring 2002

Rubbish Big Brother Guess Who

We met in the first term of uni. It was something to do with some lecture notes. 12 years later he was walking me (‘like a dog’) down the aisle at my wedding.

Chris and I have a friendship based almost entirely on an obsession with the same TV programmes. He revealed he had a TV in his room. And that he liked Eastenders. As a student who didn’t have a telly but was aware that shit was going down in the Slater household, I wasn’t going to let this opportunity go to waste.

When I think of that first year of uni, a lot of my memories revolve around that TV in Jemmy Button house: perfecting the score sheet for Eurovision; lying on the floor, too hungover to move, while Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf played; sobbing dramatically as Buffy sacrificed herself to save her sister. But most of all I remember the night that Big Brother 3 launched.

They trailed the show with silhouettes of the new housemates and each time they did Chris and I would start jumping up and down in our chairs and screeching. Full disclosure: in the first week I voted for Jade Goody to be nominated and had a full on rant when the housemates chose her to stay rather than Lynn. I’m not ashamed to admit my judgement was flawed.

I loved Big Brother, and in Chris I found the only other person I knew who loved it as much as I did. Not just for the drama, but the general rubbishness of the early years: those housemates that added nothing but you have a weird affection for because you watched them talk to some chickens every morning for a fortnight. We find ourselves reminiscing about Dean making a tower of sugar cubes more than actual things that happened to people we know.

Chris’s birthday approached. I’m broke. And that’s why I made Rubbish Big Brother Guess Who. Its the perfect gift for someone with an encyclopaedic knowledge of Series 1-8 of UK Big Brother. For anyone else, its just some people who you think you might recognise from the bus stop.

My selection criteria was kind of hard to define and took hours.

  1. I wanted housemates from the classic Channel 4, before it became an all-consuming monster of knowingness, so settled on Series 1-8 (and yes, I know that’s pushing it).
  2. Originally I was going to only use housemates who left in weeks 1-4, but then I realised that Scott finished third. THIRD. Not even Scott remembers that he came third.
  3. They should be either terribly dull, completely forgettable, charmingly annoying or have woefully misjudged the entire situation. No journeys here, oh no.

And that’s how I ended up with this lot (feel free to argue over I’ve done wrong at your leisure):

BB12

You will need:

An old box of Guess Who

A printer

Scissors

A programme for laying stuff out that you know how to use (I used InDesign)

A few sheets of card

(As a resolution queen, the hardest part of this was finding hi-res pictures of the early castmates. I guess they were still using a daguerreotype when Caggy was packing her lip liner into her wheelie suitcase.)

'Do they have beads in their hair?' 'Yes.' 'Is it Sophie?'

‘Do they have beads in their hair?’
‘Yes.’
‘Is it Sophie?’

  1. Pop the existing and original squares out of the grid. I initially tried to delicately slide them out of each block. I don’t know why, as I was just going to chuck them anyway. Far too late I discovered that you can pop them out by shoving them in the middle of their stupid faces. Thus:

    Action shot

    Action shot

  2. Work out who you want to have on your board and find a decent photo of them. You will need 24 different people. Prepare to lose your evening as you read through each weekly summary for each series on Wikipedia. Here’s a tip: keep the files as .jpgs and save them as the person’s name. This will make your life easier in the long run.
  3. You will need three lots of cards: one for each board (26mm x 36mm), and a third to shuffle up in the lid (34mm x 50mm). Open InDesign, and create a grid of 24 boxes that measure 27mm wide by 37mm tall, in the centre of the page. Fill each box with one of your housemates. Put a thin stroke line round each one to make it easier to cut out.

    BB13

    See? IMPOSSIBLE to read.

  4. Add a text box near the bottom of each box for the housemate’s name. Use a typeface that will show up easily – I chose 12pt Gill Sans Bold with 20pt tracking. Initially it was black with a white stroke, but that didn’t show up enough, so I ended up with a yellow font with a black stroke which was far easier to read.
  5. Duplicate this grid on the next page.
  6. Duplicate it again on a third page. This time, resize each box to 34mm x 50mm and re-centre the text.
  7. Print! Make sure you print it at actual size, or they’ll come out too small. And if you made the grid in the centre of the page, you should avoid those unprintable margins. I wasted a few thousand sheets of card trying to get this right, so learn from my mistakes.
  8. Cut the first small grid out and use this to slide into the board. Mix up the order that the faces come in. If they are a little tight, use your scissors to trim off a mm or two until they fit snugly. Don’t let them get too small or they’ll constantly slide out and make you want to set fire to the world BB14
  9. Cut out the second grid and do the same with the second board. BB8
  10. Cut out the larger grid and sprinkle them into the box.
  11. Pack up, go to the pub, and play Big Brother Guess Who while reminiscing about Ahmed’s snaggletoothed plate-smashing antics.BB6

The Slapdash Sewer sews a circle skirt

I frequently claim to very much enjoy everything about sewing. But when I actually start talking about it, I realise that I find most of it annoying. The measuring is the worst bit. I also hate the cutting out. And then there’s the ironing. And don’t even get me started on the pinning stuff to other stuff. Urgh.

As I also suffer from a quite terrifyingly low attention span, I avoid any project that is too samey and is likely to take longer than a couple of episodes of Big Brother on catch-up. And when it comes to dressmaking, I only really make stuff for myself, and I don’t care about things being perfect as I’m the only one who will really notice.

Surely there are other impatient sewing fans out there? If you are one of the gang, this blog is for you. I will help you make something with as little effort as possible, that looks pretty good if you don’t squint at it. You can revel in my mistakes and idiocy, and discover how to rectify them if you follow the same path.

Come with me now as we explore:

THE CIRCLE SKIRT

  IMG_1866  IMG_1890

You’ve basically got two options: long (good for wearing with puffy petticoats) and short (for stopping traffic with summery legs). I made one of each (but remembered to take tutorial photos for the short one, so that’s what you’re getting).

2015-06-07 16.20.30

You will need:

  • an hour or two at the most
  • fabric (For the long skirt choose a fabric that is around 150cm wide, for the short one 110cm width will do. You need a square plus some extra for a waistband, so buy 2 metres and then you have plenty extra just in case. I got both of mine from Simply Fabrics in Brixton)
  • scissors
  • sharpie (I used a sharpie because all your marking will be hidden by seams anyway, so no one will see them, plus it leaves a darker mark which is a godsend when you have a crazy floral print like mine)
  • measuring tape
  • pins
  • interfacing (I like a stiff waistband, so just choose the chunkiest one they have available in Simply Fabrics, Brixton)
  • a zip (I picked a boring black one that I had lying around)
  • a safety pin
  • an iron

2015-06-07 16.23.15Iron your fabric. I know. Its boring. It will make you want to end it all. Just iron it enough to get the big creases out. It will make your life much easier later on, I promise.

Cut your fabric into a square – so either 150 x 150cm, or 110 x 110cm. You get the idea.

2015-06-07 16.49.51  2015-06-07 16.51.59

Fold it in half wrong-side to wrong-side. Fold it in half again to make a square.

THE WAIST MEASUREMENT

Now sort your waist opening out. Measure round your waist. Don’t breathe in too much, and make sure that you can still move around with the tape wrapped round you. Then comes the maths, but that is where google is your friend…

Go to google calculator, and type in the following formula: waist ÷ (2 × π). My waist measurement was 80cms, so I inserted this:

80 ÷ (2 × π)

and got this:

12.7323954474

Round it down to the next sensible number (in my case 12). Behold! You have a radius!

I found that the first skirt I did the opening was too wide, so if you are as vague at measuring as me, I’d suggest being a little conservative. I reckon I could’ve afforded to go down another half centimetre or two.

Have a rest. Stop for some cheese. The maths bit is over.

2015-06-07 16.53.49

Take the corner with no raw edges – the one that would essentially be in the middle of the unfolded piece – and mark that radius a few times using the corner as a base.

2015-06-07 16.54.17

Join them together to make a quarter circle. Don’t worry about using a sharpie – this mark is going to get hidden by your waistband anyway.

DO NOT CUT IT YET, because now you need to sort out the hem – and the principle is the same without the horrible sums. Being lazy, I just measured from the waist to the edge of the piece, and marked that same distance a few times using the corner as a base again. Join them together to make another (much bigger) quarter circle.

TIP: Its always best to have it slightly longer than you might want, as its easier to make a piece of fabric shorter rather than longer, and you have to bear in mind seam allowances for the waistband and hem.

Now you may cut around the lines. You’ll end up with this:

2015-06-07 16.57.56

THE WAISTBAND

You basically need a long rectangle. The length is your waist measurement, plus a few centimetres for luck. The height is whatever thickness you want it to be, but doubled (because you’re going to fold it in half, remember).

I love a thick, wide, stiff waistband (shut up), because it gives a little bit more structure, and makes me feel like I’m standing up straight. Plus, you’ll need an extra cm or so because of that pesky, easy-to-forget seam allowance.

2015-06-07 17.05.24

My rectangle was 85 x 20cm. Cut that bad boy out.

2015-06-07 17.09.03

Now for your interfacing. I didn’t have enough to cover the waistband in one go, so I had to cobble together enough out of some odds and ends because I couldn’t be bothered to go to the shops again. Its not ideal but it is doable.

Place your waistband fabric right side down (so the wrong side is facing you) and put the interfacing on top, bobbly textured gluey side down. I cannot emphasize this enough – the smooth side should be facing you, the lumpy side should be against the fabric. You will ruin your iron and your life if you get that glue on the wrong side.

2015-06-07 17.10.21

Use a clean damp cloth or piece of old fabric to lay over the top of the interfacing and iron the three layers together. Its best to place the iron, hold it, lift it, place it, etc, rather than sweep it from side to side, as the interfacing may snag.

2015-06-07 17.12.52Take the cloth off. You may end up with a few bits that haven’t stuck properly, in which case you can gently iron it directly, but be careful.

Fold it in half lengthways, right-sides together (so you’ll have a rectangle 85 cm long by 10cm high). The interfacing should be on the outside. If things are looking a bit wonky and not matching, trim it to make sure the edges match a little better.

2015-06-07 17.17.36

Sew along the open edge in as straight a line as you can cope with. Trim along the seam allowance to make things even and dainty.

2015-06-07 17.17.48

At this point, if you’ve used one bit of interfacing, you’re good to go. If you bodged it with a few different bits, I’d suggest sewing along the folded edge of the rectangle as well. This will just secure everything in place a little better for the next step.

2015-06-07 17.18.14You now have a tube that needs to be turned inside out. Attach a safety pin to one end (make sure that you don’t pin the tube closed, though!) and use that as an anchor to feed inside the tube. Shuffle that pin all the way through the tube, wiggle the fabric a little, and ta-da! you have a tube, right-side out.

2015-06-07 17.34.43Give it an iron. It’ll need it. Check it fits round your waist properly, either end-to-end or with a little overlap.

Have a cup of tea. You’re almost there!

THE END IS IN SIGHT

Go back to your giant fabric doughnut which makes up the body of your skirt.

2015-06-07 17.36.01Cut a little line from the central hole. It doesn’t have to be as long as your zip (mine was 35cm long, which is frankly a ridiculous length for a skirt-zip, but it doesn’t matter as you will cut it down at the end). I’d suggest snipping a few cms and seeing how that fits over your hips. If its a little snug, snip a few more cms and try again. You get the idea.

2015-06-07 17.39.59Time to attach the waistband! This is where things get pretty pin-centric, but bear with me.  Take the waistband and line it up with one of the sides of the currently zipless zip-slit. Pin it in place.

2015-06-07 17.42.36Line the waistband and the waist-opening up, right-sides together.

Pin as you go round. I like to keep the two pieces flush together so I use a pin every couple of inches. Its easier to do if you hold the skirt up – if you try and pin the waistband in a circle while the skirt is spread on the floor you will want to set everything on fire.

2015-06-07 17.44.37You need the end of the waistband to line up flush with the other side of the zip-slit. You may find that the waistband and the opening aren’t the exact same length. If the waistband is too long, trim it.

If it is too short, fold the skirt slightly to make a little pleat or two (which you can sort of see in the picture above). If you need more than one, spread them out a little. This may involve some un- and re-pinning, but its worth it and because circle skirts are all swooshy, an extra fold or two won’t notice at all.

2015-06-07 17.47.07Ensuring the right sides are together, sew the pieces together with as much seam allowance as you can bear. I use the edge of the foot as a guide, but that’s purely down to laziness.

2015-06-07 17.50.07Try and ensure that the body of the skirt doesn’t get pulled under the needle. That’s not what I did and it got snagged. Don’t worry! Just unpick the relevant stitches until the fabric is free and sew over that section again. Run it back and forth a little over the existing stitches to secure them.

2015-06-07 17.56.54Time to attach the zip. Its a bit of a headache, but not too much of one. I used a zip that I had lying around. It doesn’t matter if its a little long. Black obviously doesn’t go, but I have the cunning plan to have the zip on my side that I carry my shoulder bag on so you will barely see it. Cunning, right?

2015-06-07 17.57.24    2015-06-07 17.59.28

With the zip closed, pin it to one side of the zip-slit. Make sure that the metal bits at the top line up with the top of the waistband, or you’ll end up with a zip hanging over the top of the skirt (weird) or with a skirt that doesn’t close properly (which can be hidden with a big belt).

Fold the fabric under itself by a few mm to hide your raw edges, and a couple of mm from the teeth to avoid snagging. Use a few pins to a) keep the fabric folded under itself and b) keep the zip and skirt as flat and straight as possible.

2015-06-07 18.01.30Open up the zip and sew along the very edge of the fabric – only a 2-4mm at the most. You need to ensure that the raw edges are secured and remain folder underneath, between the main skirt and the zip. Couldn’t be clearer, right?

2015-06-07 18.09.05

Close the zip again and pin down the other side the same as before. This is pretty fiddly, so make sure you only pin the zip to the slit – don’t accidentally pin the bottom of the skirt to it to. I definitely didn’t do that.

2015-06-07 18.11.34Open the zip. Carefully sew as you did for the first side. Just before you get to the head of the zip, stop sewing. Ensure the needle is in the fabric to secure it in place. Lift the sewing foot up and gently slide the zip head handle thing back up the zip. When you’ve got a clear run again, put the foot back down and carry one to the base of the zip-slit.

When you get to the bottom, DON’T cut your thread. With the needle still in the fabric, lift the foot again and spin the fabric 90 degrees.

2015-06-07 18.15.24Sew a few stitches back and forth along the bottom of the zip where the fabric joins together (the peak or point of the zip-slit, if you like). Sew up and down a couple of times just to make sure everything is secure.

2015-06-07 18.18.43Trip the top of your zip off, making sure the metal zipper stoppers are still attached – they’ll stop the zip falling off, which would make you sad at this stage of the game. Turn the skirt inside out and snip the bottom of the zip off – the back and forth stitches you made earlier will act as a little zipper buffer.

THE HEM OF DOOM

2015-06-07 18.20.38This is the last bit. The gods of circle skirts save the worst, most boring bit till last. The hem is the longest, most monotonous thing you will ever do. But when this is over you’ll have a skirt to wear! And that’s kind of exciting.

You need to hem your skirt to make sure it doesn’t fray, but because its a circle its difficult to keep it even. Don’t bother pinning it. Fold it over with your fingers, sew a few inches, fold over the next section, sew that, etc etc. Try and keep it reasonably even, but I just do it by eye.

Once again, the lovely thing about a circle skirt is that its all swishy and no one will notice if one section is a few millimetres shorter. And if things stay wonky, that’s where your iron comes in useful again. Bully that fabric into lying flat.

IMG_1862

Boom: you’ve made a circle skirt without even trying.

BONUS HEADSCARF BONANZA

I also made a matching headscarf from my remaining fabric. Just cut a square out. I went for 56cm x 56cms, but go with whatever size you like – make sure its big enough to fit round all your hair and brains though.

Set your machine to a zigzag stitch with as small a stitch size as you can bear, and whizz round the four sides of your square. This will stop the fabric fraying and make it look just a little bit like you know what you’re doing.

IMG_1888

Pose for pictures. Fight for camera time with the cat. Life continues as normal, but now you’re wearing an awesome outfit.

(Also, thanks to Birdee who provided the tutorial that I got the basics from)