September – We’re not weirdos.

I’m sorry, I’ve had a terrible case of writer’s block recently, along with getting back to school and routine, and a couple of real doozy tantrums from Sam, and I was NOT in the mood to write about them. To be honest I’m not particularly in the mood to share them now, but I’ll get to them at the end, along with a couple of things I did to cope.

First I took the children down to mum’s for a few days during which Henry and I went to Nanny’s funeral. For something with the word ‘fun’ in it, it sure does suck. We did however get to have some fun before and after, including the mega 4 hour drives there and back as I took Amy and her two with me to share petrol costs, so I got to learn about traumatic eye injuries and stuff. By the way, Amy is an A&E nurse Sister (I keep forgetting the promotion!) and also teaches lectures on the subject every now and then, we’re not just weirdos. I also got to see my sister Sheri over from New Zealand which is of course rare.


Also not weirdos. Maybe.

We had the return to school, which both boys were excited for, though not especially photogenic!



That’s better! They’ve settled in nicely and Ethan is enjoying being on school dinners this year. He’s enjoying seeing his friends again and as far as I can tell, enjoying lessons. The Headteacher took a lesson with him and mentioned to his uncle (who works at school) that he was very bright so that’s lovely to hear. Sam loves nursery, he’s got some new little friends already and we’ve even had two over for a play already. I was terrified it would be manic but they all played very nicely!

Then two days later, Ethan had his Orange Belt Grading at Tae Kwon Do. Unfortunately I had a brain fart and we were 20 minutes late as I thought it started at ten thirty, when in fact, it did not. They were very kind though and let him in anyway and he did brilliantly.


For some reason I didn’t take a picture of him actually breaking the board, but he did it first time! That’s Tony with him, who he thinks is the bees knees. As an aside, the school is absolutely fantastic. All the teachers are great with the kids and they have such fun, but without too much messing about. It’s Ossett Martial Arts and though it feels expensive as you pay monthly, you can go up to 12 times a month and so it works out at less that £5 a session. You do pay extra for grading but that happens at the most every 3 months. It’s a family run business, Brian and Tony are a father-son team and Brian’s wife Jan runs the office. We love it, so if anyone nearby is interested, tell them we sent you 😉

Slightly deer-in-the-headlights here, but he was so excited. The belt is of course massive.

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That same afternoon (understanding my slight exhaustion yet?) Sam had a birthday party at Ponderosa in Heckmondwike. It was fab! We got the reptile talk party and Sam loved it.


He was mesmerised by the snakes and bearded dragon, and had a lot of fun playing with his friends and riding a pony.


He decided the party hat was a unicorn horn. Also not a weirdo.

The next week we headed over to Accrington to see my brother-in-law Matt, his wife Mel and their new baby Caleb, who was being blessed (just remembered, I still need to transcribe that!) at church.


Isn’t he gorgeous?! I was sat behind them too so I got to steal him for many lovely snuggles. The boys were totally in love with him. Sam kept stroking his head and even Henry was ooh-ing at him. We’ll get to see them again in a couple of weeks which will be lovely, and I hear he is packing on the pounds, sounds familiar!

Then we headed back down to my parents again to bid them farewell on their mission. As there were lots of people we were in a hotel overnight and the boys found it very exciting.


I was impressed actually, it was only a Travelodge, but we had a kingsize bed, two full size pull out single beds, and a cotbed for Henry, and still had enough room to walk around them. The bath was ridiculously small, but the shower was fine. We took our own breakfast snacks and all was fine, except for the people in the room above us clomping about at all hours. You can’t have everything I guess! I also managed to forget my favourite facial scrub and shower gel, along with a jug we’d borrowed from mum but c’est la vie.

We’ve now sent them off for 18 months to New Zealand to serve the Church, where they’ll be helping oversee the building of a new camp which will be opening fairly soon, so not a holiday by any means! That was pretty much the end of the busy weekends though, so now we’ve been tackling the weekdays.

Sam. Oh Sam. Why must we do this? So many tantrums. You’ll be four in less than a month, but we are still entrenched in toddlerhood, it would seem. I assume it’s escalated with the return to school and such, but they’ve turned extra mean. And at pick up time, where everyone is watching. I love you little oddball, but you really must stop punching me. and screeching. Please.

I am desperately trying to be kind about it. We can’t keep fighting each other, we’re too similar. I try not to shout, I promise I do. Now, please try to stop shouting no at me and running away, and hitting. Ta muchly.

I’ve found several posts over at HandsfreeMama helpful, particularly the one about yelling  and one about jumping to conclusions and blame, and most of all, the about page, where she talks about the distractions of life and trying to put them aside and be more in the moment with your children. It’s a little too saccharine for me sometimes, but the points she makes are all spot on.

So, I’m trying to be less distracted. I’m putting the phone, and the lists, and the computer, down more. It’s harder than I thought, but it’s worth it.

So we can be not-weirdos together.


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Summer 2014 – Part 2

We had a chance to return to the caravan in Pwllheli for our family holiday, and we had a mostly lovely time. We had a couple of lovely days where we could go to the beach and had a lovely time. Henry decided he does in fact like sand, and it is tasty.


Apparently it’s a good topping on mini doughnuts.

The big boys loved it, lots of exploring and rock pools and swimming in the sea again, which was what I wanted.



Mer-Sam! Getting him to keep his feet still was a task and a half. Little monkey kept wiggling them with his cheeky little face on every time I tried to cover them up!


And Shark-boy Ethan, though the tail wasn’t ‘right’ according to him, he was fairly pleased in the end.

Towards the end of the week there was sickness, and exhaustion…


Everyone had a day where they were Not Good. Henry got away with a quick episode and then fine, luckily right after we got out of the car next to an Asda so we popped in and bought him new clothes and it was done, rather than a delightful stench in the car. Sam had a full day, while I took Ethan to play mini golf, and Ethan had a day, where Rich took Sam off. Rich got a night and a morning of it, and I had day from the wee small hours onward. Not so great. On our last day though, we stopped off at the beach after we packed up and I went for a quick dip.


After that Rich let Ethan steer the car on the almost-dead beach, and he LOVED it. Nice bit of Brown family tradition, as Rich was also allowed to ‘drive’ on this beach as a child.


And so our holiday was concluded. A bit up and down, but the first part was lovely. We also drove through some absolutely stunning countryside on the way back too, when we decided to shun the dual carriageway. Wales is just so beautiful and green, we absolutely love it.



Sadly while we were away, my beautiful Nanny died after having had a quite severe stroke a few days before. At 98 she had a pretty good innings but it was still a bigger shock to me than I was expecting. She was a wonderful woman, who despite not being my ‘real’ grandmother (she is my mum’s first husband’s mother), she always loved us. There was no question, she was our Nanny. She loved flowers and slowly took over Grandpa’s vegetable garden with them. She lived in London during the war and experienced the blitz twice before moving out to Oxford to temporary housing, that they shared with another family. She knitted toys for us, and had pictures all over of us and her other grand children and great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews and so on. She was in a nursing home for the last few years and being far away we didn’t see her nearly as much as I’d have liked, but I know she knew we loved her, just like I know she loved us.

So a mixed holiday really. Now we’re back and in routine and getting back to normal thankfully. Ethan and Sam are back at School and Nursery, and Ethan has taken his first Tae Kwon Do grading, so we’ll have more on that next time.

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Summer 2014, part 1

Dear internets,

I’m sorry. I totally abandoned you over the summer (again). Let me make up for it with a bit of a post dump!

We had a fab summer. The big boys stayed at Grandma and Grandad’s caravan for almost a week and then we took Henry down to pick them up and had a lovely long weekend. Upon their reunion, silliness ensued.


We took a day trip on the Friday to Barmouth, which was lovely. Lots of lovely little shops, including this:


I loved this shop. more than a normal amount. We had the kids with us so I didn’t get long to look, but I could have got lost in there. Look at all those boooooks!

And this fab sign outside a sort of pick ‘n’ mix shop with allsorts in.


Why thank you odd little welsh shop! I fear the scales disagree with you.

While there we took a little boat trip across the harbour to a miniature railway. The boys loved it. They had to walk a plank into and out of the boat, pirate style, and then of course Sam was very happy at the train situation.


Look at that floppy hair! It’s so cute, I always regret cutting it.


This one is just a bit mad. At the other end of the train ride there was a fab model railway, and a room full of toy trains. They were totally in their element and didn’t want to leave!

On Saturday we had a gorgeous day at the beach, with sand castles and swimming and ice creams and picnics and the lot. Henry enjoyed paddling with Grandad and smashing sandcastle, and the boys enjoyed going as deep as they dared with me. Ethan is a little more wary, Sam likes to charge in. More on that later. We had a wonderful time, and the weekend went far too quickly.



They were not happy to finish their holiday and come home, and neither were we!

I snapped this one while the boys were playing –


I love it when they randomly love each other 🙂 not long after we got back from Wales we got to meet Stella’s (my sister in law) new puppy Fitz.


He’s a miniature Schnauzer and I think I love him. He, however, saves his love for Sam. He is rather aloof towards me. I don’t mind (much) though, because look at Sam in this picture.


He ADORES Fitz. Also because of Fitz, Rich has come around to me getting a dog, now he knows I would be happy with a medium to small dog (I’ve always wanted a big one). So as soon as we move, that’s now on the table! Hurrah! I have wanted a dog since I was a child and never been able to have one, so the wheels are very tentatively in motion.

We also took a day trip to Pugney’s lake with Amy, Hayley and Austin.


There were ducks, and duck faces.

The big ones ran into the water and had lots of fun.


Then this happened.


Sam wandered a little too far in. He was still above water but started to panic a little. Luckily I was prepared with empty pockets and a watchful eye as this is not the first time he’s charged into water. Last time my dad was the one to charge into the water and scoop him out, and that time was scarier, but he is obviously fine as he continues to love the water! Lesson learned though and Amy and I had actually joked about who would run in for him before it happened.

I drove home wrapped in a towel. I’m so glad I wasn’t in an accident that day!

And I’ll leave you with that flattering picture. You’re welcome! Next time – our official family holiday (back at the caravan) and all that entailed.

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A step back

Sorry it’s been a while, We’ve had a bit of a break from routine (the start of summer holidays) and so everything goes out the window, so here’s a step back and look post. In the last month and a half Ethan has been attending Tae Kwon Do classes and loving it!


We’re really hoping it will help improve his coordination. His balance has already come on a fair bit, so fingers crossed! He’s also been doing swimming lessons.


Despite the slight look of terror on his face he is enjoying these too and progressing pretty well. He’s also the kindest big brother ever, today Sam got over emotional and couldn’t even communicate what he wanted, so I sent him to his room to calm down. Ethan went up after him and within seconds he was quiet – Ethan was reading him a book. Right this moment he’s playing patiently with Henry.

He’s lost his three wobbly teeth, one of which got swallowed. He was distraught until I told him it would come out in his poop, then he laughed his head off and wrote a letter to the tooth fairy.


Sam is still a bit mental. He has discovered book, and it is wonderful to go and find him tucked away ‘reading’. This collection of Dr. Seuss books are a favourite. He’s getting very good at reading letters, which is a complete credit to nursery as I’ve shamefully done nothing to do with reading with him.


He (and Ethan) also went on a weeks holiday with Grandma and Grandad Brown and didn’t miss us at all. Grandad taught him war songs and Grandma bought him sausage rolls, so he was in heaven. He loves to sing, and watch movies. The Lego Movie is a firm favourite.


Henry has suddenly shot up, He’s now walking, climbing and speeding about when he crawls. He waves, attempts to speak, and attacks everything with a fierce determination and a smile. He was totally unfazed by me in full Angel garb at Comic Con, laughing in my masked face.


He loves toothbrushes, spoons, and pens, and once he has one in his iron grip he will not let go.

Just a short one today I’m afraid!

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Weeping Angel – Mask, Wig and Sleeves

Hopefully this one will be a little shorter!

The mask. I wanted to sculpt it myself like Penwiper and Kilayi but ultimately I ran out of time. I ordered one on amazon that looked like this.


It’s a vacuform one, so thin moulded plastic, with an elastic strap. The eyes are covered with a quite open weave mesh material, sort of like tights. I took it out, because it lay flat across the holes and there wasn’t any room for my eyelashes and it was irritating. The mask was also a little too big for my face – too wide, and too high at the top. Thankfully this kind of plastic needs only a small amount of heat to re-mould, so all I did was hold it over the gas hob for a very short time and then squeeze it thinner, and wait for it to cool. If you’re leaving the eye coverings in, be really careful, because they will melt too. At this point it’s a good idea to add breathing holes too. I used a hot pin to open up the nostrils a little, and poked half a dozen tiny pin holes around the mouth. I still had to whip it off now and then to get a few breaths in, but I think it was better than it would have been.

For the height, I trimmed it down to the ribbon part, which was enough as it then sat nicely against the wig. It’s painted in the same way as the wings and dress – dark grey, mid grey highlights, then light grey highlights. Again, I’d prepare everything and paint all at the same time to be sure of matching colours.


Under my mask for the eyes I used Snazaroo Dark Grey face paint. This way, for pictures all I needed to do was close my eyes to give the full stone effect, but I kept perfect visibility for moving around. It was a little tricky as when your eyes are closed you don’t know when the picture is done. I was listening out for shutter noises, or waiting for flash, but I probably held my pose a little longer than necessary but whatever.

The Wig.

I started off with this (fairly awful) wig from ebay.


When it came it looked quite thin and I was worried it’d be no good, but it worked out ok. First I pinned it to a polystyrene head covered in cling film. Then I sectioned off the front part, and tied the rest in a low ponytail. I tried to make a small bun out of it but it was tiny, so I wrapped half an old sock around the pony tail to bulk it out, then wrapped the pony tail around. Securing it was a nightmare, so at this point I added a bunch of glue and the headband. It was just a strip of fabric with the ends turned under, and I wrapped it over the top and the ends wrapped around the bun, with the front bits still hanging loose. Then I added more glue. I pretty much just spread superglue all over. The front pieces now come in – I took one side, draped it round the back, over the bun, around and under. Loads of glue. Then the same with the other side. Glue everything, and stick down any stray hairs.


Then it’s more painting again.


The sleeves. Another Penwiper/Kilayi idea – you take a pair of tights, and cut a hole in the crotch. This is the neck hole, and the legs become sleeves. With your hands in the ends, you pin between the fingers so you know where to cut. Then use whipstitch to make the fingers or the gloves. It will take a long time and be careful to only get the edges, or it’ll be too tight on your fingers. Put them back on, and if they fit nicely, use nail varnish to seal the seams. make a tuck at the wrists so they’re nice and tight, then turn them inside out and put them on. Add false nails to the end. Be sure to liberally put lotion or oil on your own nails so you don’t end up with everything fused to yourself. Then while wearing them, paint them and let them dry. This way they stay big enough to wear. If you want to have more stretch, you can use fabric paint, but I wasn’t going to spend the money on it.


Creepy right?

Kilayi and Penwiper also made a hood out of tights to cover the neck, and I made one, but it was so hot, I knew I’d never cope with it for long. So before putting anything on I used more of the Snazarro Dark Grey to cover my neck, around the edge of my face, and up halfway on my ears. The wig or mask covers the rest. After a tip online I sprayed all the face paint with hairspray to help it keep, and most of it did until walking back to the car in a light rain. Not bad for water based.

And that’s it really! I recommend wearing a vest top underneath to prevent any rubbing, then the tight/sleeves, then the harness, then the dress. Here you’ll need help – someone to put your wings in and zip you up. They go through the holes in the dress and into the harness. Then do the dress up. The mask goes on next, then the wig so the strap is hidden, but I actually had the wig fit under the top of the mask, so you still get the fringe bits on the mask visible as I couldn’t for the life of me think how to make the wig behave that way.

Done! Thanks for reading, it was loads of fun to do, and wearing it was amazing.

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Weeping Angel – The Wings and Harness

If you’re interested, dress instructions are here.

On to the wings. The wings are tricky. The front and back are different, and you need a way for them to attach, while looking like everything is one piece of stone. I combined ideas from Kilayi’s post and Penwiper’s TheRPF thread.

What you need for the wings:
About 2m of pvc pipe. I used 22mm wide.
45° pipe joints (4)
90° pipe joints (2)
T pipe joints (2)
large foamcore board (2) – this is a light foam with paper glued either side to keep it rigid.
A LOT of 6mm EVA foam – I used 2 cheap yoga mats and a handful of A4 sheets when I ran out!
SO MUCH GLUE. Glue guns are your friend, or failing that a fast acting superglue.
You’ll really want a craft knife too for the foamcore, help yourself out and buy a cheap one. I managed with scissors but it was a bit nightmarish.

This picture I printed from Kilayi – the plan was to use her PVC boning system, combined with Penwiper’s foamcore centre layer to make them solid.


As you can see, I kind of divided up lengths and stuff and figured out a ratio to use to blow it up to the right size. I’m 5 ft 6, and decided on just over 3 feet long. I looked for photos of a full wing from the actual show to use, but I couldn’t find one that clearly showed a whole wing, so I am hugely indebted to Kilayi for this one! All in all I spent about 2-3 hours one evening calculating the dimensions and transferring a version of it to some scrap wallpaper for a template for the foam core.


Remember, this is going to be hidden by the foam, so you don’t need the individual feather shaping at the bottom, but it helps to remember where things will be. You’ll also want the feathers to overlap and meet at the edges, so allow for that when cutting them out later.

Next you want to arrange the pipe into this kind of construction. The horizontal sections are very slightly bent to help get up into that raised part at the top. It takes very little heat to do this, I held mine over my gas kitchen hob for a few seconds and then quickly stuck it in the joint and bent it. It will need glue in that joint, and the melt changes the shape enough that it’s not tight. I glued all my joints, just to be safe!


In that picture you can see that the pipes are sunk into the foam core. I traced around them onto the wing and cut out the section. This way, after you add the foam you’re not left with a flat side and a side with a big bulge (cheeky!) and you get a bit of thickness to the top of your wing on both sides. after fitting them in, I punched tiny holes in the foam core with my small scissors either side of the pipe and secured it that way.

Next, plan out your feathers. You’ll need a few pictures of the front and back of the wings – google images is good, or you can use the finished wing images lower in this post. Be sure to look at how and where they overlap, and leave enough extra on them to do it. Start cutting out the feathers, and before long, your ‘workspace’ (ie, my front room) will look like this…


Don’t start to glue anything down until it’s all cut out and planned, or you’ll get gaps or mistakes. I didn’t get pictures of individual feathers, but you’ll see below that they have score marks down the centre and uneven notches to look a bit more like feathers. Begin gluing…now.  Glue to the foam, or the bone pipes, but NOT the vertical pipe that will attach to your harness. It needs to be totally clear so it can be hidden within the dress and attach easily to the harness. After a long time and several mild burns (if using hot glue), or sticking of yourself to who knows what (superglue), or both, you’ll arrive at this point.


This is where I’ll point out – get foam as close to grey as possible. I couldn’t find sheets of grey cheap enough to justify it, but definitely look, because it is SUCH a pain in the butt getting paint right in all the nooks and crannies. on the fronts with the grey parts I didn’t have to be quite so careful to get every speck.

And the paint job, the same as the dress – dark grey all over – two coats here to fully cover the foam – then a mid grey of highlights, then a light grey of smaller highlights. you can also do a wash of thinned down black in the creases where you apply and wipe off quickly so just the crevices are nice and grimy. I think it’s a great way to age stuff, but I left it off of this project as I think it might have been too much. Leave it to dry and you’re done!


The only addition I made after this was adding a small amount of fabric to the wing base to hide where it will be joining the dress, hiding any gaps. I just made a loop of fabric and glued it on to the feathers (not the pipe) and let it hang over the pipe. Paint it with the rest, or if you add it after like me, just match the best you can. The highlights help disguise it anyway if it’s not spot on.

On to the harness.

You’ll need:
a cheap/old backpack, or strapping with its assorted clippy bits.
A small amount of scrap fabric
a small piece of wood or similar material
Off cut of EVA foam to line the back
4 pipe clips – matching size to your pipe
Sewing paraphernalia

Start with the wood. You want a small rectangle (mine is rounded at the top like a grave stone shape, because that was the shape backpack I had) that will comfortably fit your back. Attach the pipe clips with the screws. I also drilled small holes either side of the clips and cable tied them on too, because I used two layers of thin plyboard because that’s what I had, and on removing the pipes from the clip, the screws were less than secure.  Glue foam to the back of the wood for comfort.

Use the scrap fabric to sew a well-fitting envelope for the wood, with holes with strengthening stitching for the pipeclips. This needs sewing to the back pack if using or straps attaching to it. I had a small backpack spare as it had a hole in the front, so I cut off all of the front and sides, and sewed the envelope directly to the back. Originally I was going to detach the straps and sew them back on to the envelope, but I thought why mess with something that’s worked fine!


You have to sew all around the wood, so it doesn’t flop about in the envelope. I sewed it with the wood piece in it for the whole time, but you could leave it out until you have to sew in the top. That would be easier, but you’re more likely to go in too close and be unable to get it in position. I painted the straps as they were bright red and a tiny section was visible. Tiny, but bright red on a grey costume. No good. I also used a ribbon to tie the straps together at the front, holding everything in place a bit more securely.

The harness goes under the dress, and two small slits are made in the back of the dress, just above the top pipe clip. The wing pipe slides in the hole, and just pops straight onto the clips. This way, the wings can rotate so they point back, or out to the side, or in between, but they also stay pretty well where you put them. This also means that if they get a bit knocked by the crowd, they will simply move rather than snap off.  It was also useful for a brief sit down to eat at lunchtime. I wasn’t able to fully sit, but I did manage a short perch on the edge of a chair 🙂

That’s it for wings, not too hard on the face of it, but lots of planning involved.

Next, the wig, mask and gloves, and then we’re done!

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Weeping Angel – The Dress

I’ve had a few work in progress requests, so are you ready? here we go!

For the dress I’m afraid I don’t have a huge amount of detailed pictures, as I was sort of fumbling through it. Let me start by saying a huge thank you to Kilayi and Penwiper who came way before me and without whom I wouldn’t have had a clue where to start. Also an enormous thank you to Jen at EPBOT where I think I first found a link to Penwiper’s The RPF thread, and where I found the courage to 1) find and go to a Con and 2) go in costume. I’m fairly introverted and not a huge fan of crowds (and yet Comic Con I hear you ask? I know. It was a big step. More on it later though) but seeing that other people with similar (and more chronic) anxieties could do it, I committed myself to do it.

Right, the juicy bits.

The dress is made up of an inner and an outer dress. The inner dress I originally planned to use an old maxi dress that I wasn’t wearing anymore, until I realised that it was jersey and so would stretch with the weight of the outer layer, ruining any kind of fit work that I had done, so I had to start from scratch. Luckily, a simple shift dress that is ultimately totally unseen, is relatively easy.

for this part you need:

any cheap fabric. I made my under dress out of an old bed sheet and pillowcase, so not that much.
sewing machine and thread.
A long zip. Mine was 20 inches. The longer it is, the easier it is to get in and out of.

I started with the skirt half. Measure your waist, divide by four, and add seam allowance. I added about 2 or 3cm to each piece, that way it would be nice and loose without being baggy. Next, measure the circumference of the hoop for the bottom. Divide that by 4 and add seam allowance again. The hoop holds the skirt out and makes it easier to walk and cooler on the legs. It doesn’t need to be huge, mine was about 125cm. For ease of putting it into the dress, try to get one that opens easily. Luckily, cheap ones tend to!  For length, you want your waist to the floor, plus a few cm to create the tube to hold the hoop. Ideally you want it to juuust skim the floor so it doesn’t drag.

You’ll want those measurements to make 4 pieces like this –


(Again, huge thanks to Kilayi for this way of explaining. Words aren’t great!)

Match up 2 pairs, pin, and sew down the straight edges. then open them up and line the now two pieces up, and pin and sew down the diagonal edges. Fold up the bottom wide enough to fit your hoop in, and sew, leaving a small gap to insert it. Test that the hoop fits, but take it back out if you can – I couldn’t – as sewing is easier without it in. Once the dress is finished, push it in and through, then join up the ends again. Mine stayed back together fine, but no one’s going to see if you need to glue or tape it.


Tada! My front piece doesn’t have the strait seam as I managed to make it fit so it was one less seam to do! You might be able to see at the bottom that my seams are all on the outside. I did it on purpose – that way I don’t get irritating seams rubbing.

The top half I’m afraid I didn’t take pictures of, but I basically used an existing dress as a template to make essentially a tank top, and sewed it to the skirt. This next part is my favourite cheat. You might have noticed that with the tank top sewed on method, there’s no opening to attach the zip. I HATE inserting zips properly because it’s a nightmare. So, I pinned the closed zip on the outside of the back of the dress, and sewed it on. You will have to fiddle the zip up and down a little to get the machine foot past it, but it’s much easier than doing it properly, and it’s unseen.

But wait, you say. This zip doesn’t open anything! Open the zip, and then cut down the fabric between it. perfect zip placement, no zip irritating your back! You might find that loose threads catch on the zip, but they pull out easily enough.

Now the outer dress. You’ll need –

A huge amount of light grey fabric. I used more than recommended, I think I bought 5 metres, and used it all.
grey thread, and your machine.A large-ish needle and a contrasting colour thread for gathering. The colour makes it easier to pick out once you’re done.

Essentially, you want a large tube. The length needs to be from just under your arms to the floor plus a few cms to account for the angle, seams, and tuck under at the bottom. You then need an extra bit (I went for 10cm) for the tuck at the waist. Sew together the full width of the fabric to make one very, very wide piece, don’t turn it into a tube yet. Measure yourself around under the armpits, this will give you how wide it needs to be once gathered. using the contrast thread, sew long stitch across the top, with a knot in one end. Hold the thread tight, and push the fabric up evenly until it reaches the measurement you took. You can tie it off and leave it there until you are ready to sew it to the top part, but I did a run of machine stitch over it to hold it all in place.IMG_3973

For the top part you don’t need much. The front is an inverted bridge shape. Again I used and existing top to measure, and went a little larger to make sure, then trimmed it down. The back is two pieces, measured from a top and given a generous overlap for the zip. curved edges are tricky, so snip the edges to help with the bend. The back and front are only attached at the shoulder, this gives a generous armhole to allow movement.

Find the centre of the large skirty bit and line it up to the centre of the top, pin and sew. Keep the overlap in the back, and line it up too, pin and sew.

You can see above on the left where the front is attached but the back isn’t. If you line it up with the centre at the back you should be left with more than enough width in the armholes. I can’t stress enough though, try it on before you permanently sew it (mind the pins), because unpicking is slow, tedious, and irritating! Once it’s attached, you get this:


Crazy long dress 🙂

Put on the underdress and then the outer dress. That way you can see exactly where to pin it for the fold, and leave enough for the bottom. Pin directly to the underdress.


Please excuse the mess – sewing with three children has it’s downsides! Once it’s pinned take it off carefully and sew under where the fold will be, so it’s hidden. All that’s left is to sew the back up, and sew the bottom under. The bottom is easy enough, just tuck it under and pin and sew once the back is finished. For the back sew up to the bottom of the zip in a normal seam. for the rest, tuck under and sew close to the zip. Where the gathers are it will meet together easily and cover the join, but at the top you’ll want a fairly large overlap to cover it.

Then it’s time to paint! You want the dress upright really to paint it so you can see what you’re doing and get in all the creases, not to mention to stop it sticking together. The problem with this is that dressmakers dummies are ridiculously expensive, so I fashioned something that would do. I stuck a broomstick handle (a piece of dowel or something might be better, ideally you want it as tall as you or a little taller) into a christmas tree holder and glued a large hanger on top. Obviously it’s no good for actual dress making but it’s useful for this, or hemming I’d imagine.

For the paint, I was absolutely not buying that much fabric paint, and so I bought a tub of cheap matt white emulsion and a small tub of blacks. Start with a total covering of dark grey. Once it’s dry, add in a little white for mid-grey highlights, and use a sponge to add it to prominent areas. I did this again adding more white again for a few more highlights. I’d save the painting until you’ve made everything though, so the shades all match.


And you’re done!

More coming on the wings, mask and wig.


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