Art Dump: Scribbly Candids

After the brief burst of Opinion in the previous post it’s back to Showing Off Things I Did until my heartrate returns to normal.

Buddy Peace, romantic lead in a project I’m insisting on referring to as Hooked.

Line art for a future project, possibly. Either that or a naked dude on a rock. 

This is a man we met handing out free food to children on South Bank (er, as a restaurant promotion thing, not for abduction purposes). He was entirely delightful and became quite bashful after agreeing to having his photo taken. I rather hope the little portrait does him justice as he looked like the kind of chap you keep in a box for emergency hugs.

… That’s normal, right?

This guy, on the other hand, was part of a group shot I took for reference purposes, and I’m sort of spitefully pleased that he’s making a stupid face because he had an obnoxious laugh and kept saying idiotically cliched things to the lady he was with. Before it started raining, and I managed to get away inside. 

More crowd scene squares from the garden at the V&A Museum.

No real commentary on this one except that I like the way it turned out – dramatically varying line widths are a great way to add tension, I think.

Why would you draw this particular scene? Let’s just pretend there’s a deep reason rather than having a good reference shot to hand.

Wombat! From a photo taken at Australia Zoo in 2012.

You win a prize if you can even work out what this is.

Otherwise known as “why I never did observational comedy”

Normally I try to keep this blog a positive platform, because I have locked accounts on Facebook, Twitter, a number of other social media sites, and my paper diary for moaning, complaining, and bitching about life to an audience, not to mention the people I manage to corner in pubs, art galleries, and long walks for further dissection of Why Everything Is Shit. It takes a certain amount of effort, as I am not by nature an upbeat or optimistic person and typically my philosophical range lies between “nihilistic” and “whingy”.

So I hope I can be forgiven for temporarily slipping into hectoring complaints here: there’s this thing people do and it annoys me. That sentence is, by the way, the subtitle to my never-to-be-written autobiography. “Delilah Des Anges: There’s This Thing People Do And It Annoys Me“.

That Thing That All Of Us Do And If You Say You Don’t You’re Lying

It comes in many forms. In some areas of the internet it comes in the form of nostalgia drives: if you didn’t do this as a kid you weren’t really born in X decade, a statement which has led me to conclude that I actually grew up in a bizarre 1950s with computers that allowed me to peer into the window at the 80s and 90s through primary school classrooms but only fleetingly touch concepts like Super Mario Bros. In others it’s about the internet, in the complacent, gif-heavy articles on Buzzfeed and the paid-by-the-word-to-splurge-800-words-of-nothingness-and-pay-the-rent bylines in the online editions of otherwise journalism-minded newspapers. Sometimes it makes it into the mouths of talking heads on TV shows, talking about Twitter: other times it pops up on Twitter.

What it usually boils down to is, “Hey here’s that thing all of us do, because it’s assumed everyone uses the internet the same way, and if you don’t you’re a liar and/or a freak.”

Examples involve “people who tweet about their lunch” (everyone does it, come on, everyone Instagrams their lunch, there’s no person online who doesn’t have an Instagram account!), “the way you react to every current event by trying to find something witty to say about it first” (you mean there are people in the world who aren’t competitively “witty” with their friends? Gettaway), and the automatic assumption – weird in an age of international conversations, saved TV, and a bigger variety than ever of accessible entertainment in a million forms – that we’re all watching the same show, all playing the same games, all listening to the same songs.

The latter is in part I think the triumph of marketing campaigns, but also the assumption that in the face of the release of Titanfall, no one is going to be diligently sticking with Animal Crossing, because something New has happened and must hold our attention. Every time the tidal wave of I’m reading this everyone is reading this everyone in the world is reading this, it’s still the person who says am I the only person who isn’t reading _______ who is derided in public as an arsehole. Each product release is a Major Cultural Event, and the price of non-participation in cultural events, down to following the correct participation criteria is, as I have known since childhood, the enactment of social violence on the deviant.

This doesn’t sound to me like a utopian arrangement and certainly belies the fierce talk of individualism favoured by Western civilisations: at least places which are nakedly clear about the interests of the one being irrelevant before the interests of group unity don’t lie about individualist agendas while engaging in soft pillorying of people who don’t watch a specific sporting event.

This Is Relatable, Right? My Friends Do It And I’m Normal So All Your Friends Do It

The most recent example of egregious assumptions was on Susan Calman’s Convicted, a Radio Four comedy show I listen to at work because my job is mind-numbing and sometimes I have to listen to something which isn’t a documentary or I suffer from a sense of humour failure, which some people may believe has already happened given this touchy and bad-tempted blog post.

Normally I just absorb any given comedian’s divergences from the path of righteousness with either a shrug and the mantra it takes all sorts, or a hearty shriek of SHUT UP YOU RACIST MORON if I’m watching Mock the Week, but this particular moment, delivered as it was part of absolute reality, struck the same chord as hundreds of piss-awful Gawker “articles”.

The idea was that everyone – everyone – now has friends who disappear off to the toilet mid-argument in order to look up a fact on their phone and then pretend they knew it all along. Friends who use technology in order to avoid having to look like they might not know a thing. This was of course presented as a problem with technology, because admitting that it might be a problem with the kind of friends one chooses to keep is a bit tough to tackle after the age of about fifteen or so.

I’ve probably had friends who behaved like that, at some point in my life, but they aren’t friends of mine any more, because the kind of person who finds it fundamentally impossible to say “I don’t know” in a conversation and has to lie in order to maintain their competitive Rightness isn’t someone I’m tremendously keen on staying acquainted with. I don’t really want to waste my limited attention on Twitter following the kind of people whose use of the platform is photos of their lunch or competitive funniness, either, so I don’t.

I use most social media the same way I’ve used it since I first got online, when everyone and their dog wasn’t doing it, when it wasn’t freakish and socially damaging not to be on the internet, long before Facebook: I use it to talk to people. Most often directly, occasionally like this, on the assumption of an audience of maybe two people and a dog, which is slightly less embarrassing than rocking down to Speaker’s Corner to stand in the rain and slightly less sociable than going to the pub and doing it at people, although it has the edge over both in that I don’t have to change out of my pyjamas to be didactic here.

Both through social media and through real life interaction I’ve found it relatively easy to winnow out the people who are worth choosing to spend time with and the ones we can quietly ignore unless they turn up at a party or on someone else’s Facebook status being an obnoxious bucket.

I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest this process is for everyone, of course, because I’m not obsessed with the idea that everyone has the same experiences and needs to deal with them in the same way. And I’m not going to pretend I do in order to foster some false sense of warm fuzzy unity and drive up my hits with how identifiable my vague, gif-strewn list supposedly is.

Sewing: accidental overdose on dressmaking.

So there’s this dress pattern. It’s a Vogue pattern (V8280), and it goes up to a maximum of size 14 in the one I managed to get hold of about eight years ago in a tearing hurry somewhere in South West London. 14, which contains a digit that is also my actual dress size but is significantly smaller than it. Also, I don’t really like the lower part of the dress pattern because it is designed to emphasise the hips on women whose hips are not already so emphatic that they tend to drown out everything else in sight, like explosions and so on.

However, the top part of that pattern is well-fitted and looks fancy, and is also a piece of cake to make: two darts in the two back pieces, four darts in the front piece, all marked out, and then attach the weird handle things and their lining, fold over and sew the sides together, insert zip if necessary (not always necessary).

Faced with the problem of a skirt I didn’t like I remembered that I have recently totally mastered the art of making full circle skirts in the flash of an eye, and in one instance that I already had a skirt made of two skirts knocking about and waiting to be made into something I might one day wear.

The results would have me scolded off the Great British Sewing Bee with my tail between my legs… then again no one on there makes things out of the arms of a coat cut out on a folding picnic table and sewn amid the continual snapping of sewing machine needles.

First attempt

Test run using cheap-o green all-purpose polycotton and, when I’d run out of that and could only make a pitifully tiny ruffle instead of a skirt at the base, a valance. The same one I used to make the sleeves of the insane jacket. The cheapo ribbon from the land of magically cheap sewing supplies (E17) has proven only a minor distraction from the fact that the back is far too broad and needs to be taken in at the top, but mistakes are pretty much the name of the game with the first one anyway.


It may look a bit rough, but this entire thing is heavily recycled and I feel that excuses it. The skirt is made up of fabric originally bought for a Maenad costume I made in 2005, as is the ribbon waistband. The underskirt is from a dress I made in 2006 to go to a wedding in. The top and the fishtail, the zip included, are the remnants of the coat I made for a thing a couple of years ago. As I get marginally better at making things I see no real problem in hacking up the stuff I made before which wasn’t as good and using it for other things.

So, at some point in the future, most of these will probably be turned into something else.


Rather better: this was actually the last of the green dresses, and is made of taffeta. There’s nothing particularly funky in its construction, and I will be happy to wear it this summer if the summer weather ever happens at all. 

DSC_0234 DSC_0235

Lacing is, as always, my answer to “this garment isn’t wide enough and I don’t want to make extra panels” and in this instance also my answer to “I don’t have a zip of the right length and colour but I want to finish this thing”. As a result, weirdly, the back looks better than the front. Fabric is lining satin from a bargain in, which means this entire dress cost £4.

Tune in at $ERROR_DATE_NOT_FOUND for a blog post where I intelligently discuss something rather than just showing off stuff I’ve made and running away.


Easter Art Dump

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

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

warning, contains breasts and other anatomical items

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

a lot of these statues are somewhat questionable in their content

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

tiny pictures

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

Jewellery sale part the millionth

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

Click on image for listing as usual
click on image for listing
click on image for listing
click on image for listing
click image for listing

Sewing: Spring dresses.

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

full skirt

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


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

But first I made some William Morris buttons.

Click for listing.
Click for listing

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

Click for listing

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

Well, I thought it was funny.

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

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

Button flies are the new black.
Button flies are the new black.

Back view

A few notes:

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

front view back view

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