Dressing Up

Of course I went as a ballerina for Hallowe’en! It involves minimal expense and I was making a tutu skirt anyway!

(It’s a fashion tutu, rather than a true romantic tutu, and I will post about making it soon.)


If you’re disappointed that it’s not scary, just call it the Ghost of Fonteyn. Or Myrtha. Or Giselle when she’s DED.

Pleeeease no placement critique because I had already been drinking by this point, and it was radioactive green, and I very rarely take pictures of myself balletically speaking and as soon as the photo has been taken I criticise myself way more than you could ever hope to attempt to do, so just DON’T OK!? Ok then.


The wonderful diva stage makeup was from a tutorial by Kathryn Morgan, who is a former soloist with NYCB and posts loads of really useful dance videos. Check out her different dance make-up looks, and her stretching routines.

I have no idea why I look so arsey in this photo.

I have no idea why I look so arsey in this photo.

Of course when I had had more of the radioactive green stuff I was teaching people how to do pirouettes and piqué turns. An educational time was had by all.

Creativity and Depression

Source: Creativity and depression… do they bother you? — SewCanShe | Free Daily Sewing Tutorials

SewCanShe is a great blog and tutorial site that I follow and would totally recommend for any sewists! But this post was a bit more personal and one that I really appreciated. I suffer from Clinical Depression and creativity (of lack of) is something that I spend quite a lot of time thinking about.

The post above and its comments mention sewing projects as a source of creativity and a bit of everyday hopefulness for people suffering through depressive times. I can definitely relate to this. Sometimes, just picking up a simple bit of hand-sewing and completing just *something* for the day can mean the difference between writing-off the day and salvaging something positive and hopeful. I think as well that the attention demanded of making something can be so helpful in re-focussing thoughts away from sorrowful or anxiety-inducing spirals.

Ballet, as well, has been and continues to be an absolute life-line for me. Again, for me, it is the quality of attention that must be paid in class that brings relief for me. If I can find the heart to just get there, to turn up and turn out, I know that for the next hour and half I won’t be at war with myself.

However going through depression and related issues can often mean that creativity grinds to a halt. I often feel overwhelmed by the thought of beginning any kind of project and a profound lack of creative energy and imagination. It is a real problem for me as my occupation as a graduate student means that writing is central to what I do – and I often feel absolutely unable to write.

I think there’s a bit  of a culturally-imagined image of the depressed or “mad” person somehow harbouring a special kind of creative energy or the ability to  create wonderful things out of darkness. No doubt many celebrated creative people have had mental health issues. But I find this assumption quite damaging. For me, depression is a very barren place and I really do feel the pressure of not being able to function or create.

I would love to hear people about their own creative lives. Have you found any ways to access your own creative energy through the dark times?

Dancing in the Dark. (photo: Erwin Olaf)

Dancing in the Dark.
(photo: Erwin Olaf)

Dancing and Sewing

So it’s not a great photo but here’s my SAB skirt, made from the super fab tutorial from Adult Beginner!

Ballet selfie/belfie!

Ballet selfie/belfie!

It’s such a good tutorial, really easy to follow. The skirt makes you feel like your legs are a zillion miles long!

I’ve made a couple of longer ones in different fabrics for a friend, and have plans to make a mid thigh/knee-length one for twirly twirly purposes. I totally love this super short one for ballet though, the way it hangs feels so flattering.

Crochet Shorties; and the time I danced at the Royal Opera House.

I made these crochet warm-up shorties!


They’re slightly adapted from a pattern in Geek Chic Crochet by Nicki Trench. (A lovely Christmas present from my step-mum.)

I made the legs much shorter, and the waist much higher in order to cover the whole of my pelvis, and kept the scallop detail to just the legs. The ribbon is grosgrain and keeps fast in place throughout class (tested!).  They’re bulkier than the fine-knit shorties you get from, say, Harmonie, but the custom fit means my bum is satisfactorily covered – a problem for me with dancewear made for the traditional ballet dancer shape! – and much more importantly, the hip flexors are kept super toasty warm.

I celebrated with a cheeky photoshoot at the Royal Opera House.

Yes, that's ten bellinis please.

Yes, that’s ten bellinis please.


I want to to tell you all about Nymo. Because it’s brilliant.

It’s super-strong, silky thread which is used for beading and bead embroidery. It’s great to work with, you can get it for about a quid off Ebay or at a craft or bead shop (Beadworks in London – handily situated near all the dance shops in Covent Garden!) and it comes in all the colours. I was stitching with ivory which I happened to have from embroidery, until my cat stole and hid it. I’m now waiting for an order of soft pink to come through the post.

I use it all the time to sew my elastics onto my flats.  When I got my pointe shoes (Oh-ho. More about that later.) and had to sew my ribbons and laccys I really didn’t fancy using dental floss. Maybe the best ballerinas in the world have minty-fresh pointe stitching, but use weird coated plastic stuff which I don’t even own when a specialist haberdashery product exists?!? Oh nono.

I’m making a skirt.

Super-fabulous Adult Beginner has a lovely, simple and very informative (GRAIN. I get it now!) tutorial for making your own ballet skirt. (HERE)

My ballet friend very kindly gave me a navy leotard the other day. And it just so happens that I rent a huge hole in a navy chiffon dress a couple of weeks ago! Boooom.

I love wearing skirts to class. I love the little knitty shorties too… but the translucent veil-like drapes of a skirt can’t be beaten. Photos when I’ve completed my ensemble!