Roller Derby: Skate noose tutorial

I first encountered skate nooses in Double Threat Skates in London. It struck me as a useful but simple derby themed make. Skates are by fair the heaviest part of your kit so carrying them across the body makes sense.


I started by doing a little research, to decide on the style I wanted, there are two main styles, those which are a more literal noose which tighten over your skates and the style I decided to go for, with stitched loops as shown.


What you need: about 2 metres of webbing tape or strong grosgrain ribbon 1inch or wider two d rings with the flat side measuring the same or wider then the tape you are using, a sewing machine or a needle and thread.


I could not find any webbing in my stash, I did find some vintage pure silk grosgrain ribbon from about 1920, and it’s beautiful but perhaps a bit much?


I’m using pure cotton grosgrain tape from Merchant and Mills, it’s not cheap but it matches my new kit bag


I normally have d rings in stock but I could only find one, so I brought some more on eBay, you can get them in a wide range of colours and sizes


Making instructions:


1, The first thing you need to do is establish the length you want it to be, you can do this on a mannequin or on yourself by working out where you want your skates to sit and then measuring the distance from skates to skate over the shoulder, add a little extra for turnings, say 10cm and cut your tape to size


2, Loop the d rings over both ends, turn the raw end in and pin allowing enough space to stitch a reinforced square shape


3, Next you need to establish size of loops at each end, you can do this on your skates making sure it is big enough to loop over two wheels, but not so big they could fall out, cut two lengths of tape once you have established the size, again adding extra for turnings


4, loop one end through the d loop turning it back once, so the raw edge is left out.



then take the other end and fold it over the top so the two raw edges are now covered.


so it looks like this;


5, Check the size is right before you stitch it by trying it over your shoulder, being mindful of pins!


6, Next hand or machine stitch a crossed square as shown



Finished! Now off you pop with skates in tow



The life of the bicycle launch

It’s been a long time since my last post and many cycling related things have happened, including me taking part in my first road race, in which I didn’t finish very high, but I didn’t fall off, or crash and I did finish, so moving swiftly on…

This post is about the launch of The life of the bicycle film made by Clapham Film Unit with Herne Hill Velodrome and The Science Museum, funded by the Heritage lottery’s All Our Stories programme

The launch was at The Science Museum, most of the cyclists involved cycled to the screening from the velodrome. I had a morning meeting so missed cycling through a torrential downpour, I did however arrive just in time for the post ride flapjack…

I was also able to see the Bicycle tour exhibition, including many of the bikes I was able to study for the project.

Find out more about the exhibition here;


Anyway on to the film!

It’s a really interesting film, I love they way its cuts between the vastly different stories all linked by cycling. I was very lucky to have three largeish bits in it which I will now share with you (although you should try and see whole the film!)

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The first part was filmed at the end of the day, but works really well as the start of my story, it shows me enjoying my own private velodrome, huffing and puffing and gushing about how much I love cycling.

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I am wearing my modern cycling clothing, summer kit, and it was COLD (We filmed in April this year)

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You can see the two problems I suffered with throughout filming here, cold hands and near blindness, do too a lack of sunglasses on a very sunny day. I always wear sunglasses, on and off the bike as my eyes are super light sensitive, and big attracting grit etc, but sunglasses didn’t work for the film and you can tell I can’t really see, plus my eyes were watering all day. Thank goodness for my cycling cap!

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You can see I pulled my arm warmers right down and rolled my fingers under the palms of my hands sandwiching them between me and my cork (conducts heat) handle bars, all without realising what I was doing and thinking about how strange it would look on film.

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 13.44.39

A couple of people still came up to me after the screening to ask way I wasn’t wearing gloves. The truth is at this stage I didn’t own cycling gloves and the fluffy woolly pink gloves I had with me did not really look the part. I had no idea what I was doing till I watched the film, it must have been towards the end of a take! Charlotte was quick to wrap me up as soon as we stopped cycling, but I am a cold blooded person and thus cold all of the time.

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The second part of the film is me in my 1940s kit, I want to show you the way the film cuts to it

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It starts with race footage like this…FAST

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And then cuts to me, not quite as blurry, but you try cycling in original 1940s sandals, bits kept falling off and I had to keep stitching them back together.

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We filmed this first, I was pleased it was a sunny day, I had a hand knitted 1940s cardie, but I was clearly feeling brave as I took that off before we started filming.

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I had to get used to cycling on the slopes of the velodrome wearing this, which was quite good fun…

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This footage was filmed on a old camera, with old film, sorry, I forget the technical terms, But this give the lovely old school colour.

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this was the one time I looked at the camera you can see how much I am suffering from the sun, as I have pirate face.

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Being a costume designer as well as wearing original shoes I also have original 1940s silk stockings, the dress which is cut in line with war time guidance on fabric wastage is not very full and not perhaps not fully suited to cycling.

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The dress kept slowly riding up my legs, not wanting to spoil the flow I waited to readjusting my dress in-between takes, some of which were quite long.

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This meant, yes I was a proper old school Cambridge cyclist, showed my stocking tops. This description is based on my past interviews with women who cycled in Cambridge in the 1950s and 1960s. I was not wolf whistled (as my interviewees often were) but my stocking tops might have inspired my streaker?

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The footage of me creaking and wobbling round the track with my legs out cuts to this…

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 13.51.31 (1)

Again FAST and skillful!

My third part in the film starts with a tease…whatever is she wearing now?

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before slowly giving away my final costume

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Why I’m wearing my full Edwardian cycling costume of course! (apart from that hat which I picked up from M&S on route, but sssshhh don’t tell anyone!)

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This is how the vintage black and white film footage came out…

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Bear in mind I have the full costume on, including the corset which needed to be laced up to enable me to do the jacket up, was made for a model smaller than me and on top of it all I had to cycle round the velodrome, at least I wasn’t cold!

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Also you will remember from my post about filming this, this was the part of the shoot in which I got streaked, just imagine a nude dude running behind my right shoulder…I think I did quite a good job of keeping a straight face really, and I didn’t pass out, even when I was in stitches laughing.

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Thank you so much to everyone involved, especially Charlotte who talked me in front of the camera. I loved every moment of it!

Find out more about The life of the bicycle here;

see more of my stills from the film here;

It never gets easier, you just go faster.

It never gets easier, you just go faster. – Greg LeMond

Day 30, I made it, in one piece, even if that piece is a little bruised, scratched and stuck back together, this isn’t really cyclings fault, I wasn’t built to be a Concours model, or I would have had some inbuilt spacial awareness and balance.

Today involved the normal cycle to the train station, Cambridge again, 4 and a bit hours of laser-cutting later and its back to the boro and over to the cottage to complete a funding app, over a beer, as is becoming the tradition, then off again to the rowing club to drink tea and hunt round for the thing that’s making the club house smell so nasty, before home, which on reflection smells quite fresh, even if it does resemble a stage from a production of lord of the flies.

I have been trying to work out if I should carry on this blog after today, not everyday, that’s mad, just when I have something intresting to say relating to Cycling. I continued to debate this into the 1st of May, until a reserved an email offering me an exciting cycling related opportunity, so that’s it, the blog carrys on

365 day cycling pledge? Bit much? Ok fine…





Cycling away to join the circus ( I heard they have cake)

Reader, The day started badly, him-indoors is very stressed 
about his MA work and I can't really help him, which makes 
me stressed. The house looks like someone has turned upside
down and given it a good shake, my fat upper arms dont fit 
in my blouse and I'm not ready... For any part of the next
three days.

So I'm up at the crack* upsetting the neighbours with my sewing 
machines, trying frantically to get ready for my printing session 
later, while thinking on how to get my new bike to the repair 
shop at the same time.It's not broken, the gears just need a 
professional touch and I really want it ready to ride it on Sunday.  

Of course super-mum comes to the rescue as per, helping me get Jake 
to the bike shop and then making sure I'm at the Uni in time for my 
printing slot. Mums rock, she even brought him-indoors pork pies, 
which means I can tick off "feed husband" from my weekly list of 

I arrive super-stressed, but as soon as the smell of the print room 
hits me I'm as calm as can be, and after a few small battles with 
the laser printer my days starts to reflect my new found mood. 
Who needs Prozac when you have ink and rollers, oh baby...

By the time I've had a bit of fun with lasers and a very productive 
snow queen** project meeting. I'm in an amazing mood and the 
sunshine after the mornings hail reflects this improvement suitably 

Returning to the boro by train with a small brown leather suitcase 
off of the 40's*** full of samples and an over-sized portfolio of 
card I am looking forward to joint birthday meal with Cuddles 
(that's a person not a activity) dispute the total lack of an 
opportunity to change or draw on my face.


I haven't really had a proper cycle today, just getting Jake to 
the car, but it's starting to look like that's about all I'll 
fit in.

So to the meal I go, it's a great evening, I spend a lot of time 
banging on about how I have to be at the rowing club at 8:30 in 
the morning while  simultaneously descending into an ever growing 
cloud of rum.

Here's a bad idea, take a group of rowers, add lashings of rum, 
what do you have? Pirates, lots of them, with no captain.

The plan was to walk home, him-indoors brought frank, so we could 
try a beer-backie, but that's not going to end well, I think I might 
have missed the boat somewhat on backies****, in the end Chris takes 
pity on us and drops us home, leaving poor frank alone in town, so 
that's tomorrow's rescue mission planned then, free the fixie-one

Is it just me or is the floor moving (holds on the the edge of the 
bed) damn fenland earthquakes 


*when the day cracks, it is now dawn, not to be mistaken for the 
cracken, which is very bad news for water dwellers or shot drinkers 
as it turns out (burp)

** a project for The Scott Polar Museum in Cambridge, yes my job 
rocks, i know right? 

*** which always makes me want to run away and join the circus or 
something equally reckless  

**** a short history of backies and me: I didn't know what one was 
till i met my husband, a couple of times when we have been short 
on bike and long on tired legs we have tried this, but  I scream 
the whole time, which might explain why him-indoors is so deaf, 
ANYWAY i think the reason this gives me the fear is because you 
have to learn to do it while you are still a teenage and thus 
immortal, and why did i not do this as a teen, growing up in 
Cambridge aka the land of the bike? well Where i grew up every 
child had their own bike, so there was no need for such things. 


You can’t look where your going if you don’t know where your going


It is no longer my birthday, I am now older and all my presents 
are open, boo

The husband is up north ensuring the wall keeps the wildlings 
and white walkers out, so I have the house to myself and a 
studio day is the plan of action

Some nasty admin tasks do not help to lift my mood and as I 
have a rather special dress to get ready for a fitting this 
evening I decide drastic action is in order
Cola (with a slice of lemon and even more importantly a straw) 
chocolate buttons and the labyrinth DVD on the imac...
mmmh that's better

While sewing and watching I reflect on how the film never fails 
to lift my mood and start planning my autobiography, told through
the structure of the film*


Dress done, I head of on frank to my evening fittings which 
include opening another card and present ( I'm a very lucky girl) 
before heading back to the rowing club to admire Ella's newly 
uncast leg and talk about the cycle ride she has roped me into 
on Sunday, well when I say "roped" what i mean is I bit her hand off.

It's quite hard to find girls to cycle with, you see, 
they keep breaking
Ella is perhaps the only person I know who comes close to being as 
accident prone as me...only I fall and bounce she falls and shatters, 
however, having raced in a four with her I can also confirm she is 
one of the most competitive people I know which should make this 
interesting...dont you think Ella? ;) 

* i know every word of this film by heart, and have on many 
occasions recited some or all of it, as a one women impromptu 
show and sometimes with other wakkos, am happy to do so on 
request, but trust me, its a very weird thing to witness

Three walnut whips, easy on the walnuts and a shot glass of the warmest orange juice known to humanity please

The thing about Saturdays is that I’m often up and on my bike before I’m fully awake, in the winter this can be quite painful but once the suns out there is no better way to acclimatise to the day.


Today’s not in the least (hem) hung-over pedal to the rowing club was followed by my first row in an eight of the year* and the first crab I have caught in at least a year, A proper over your head number at full kilt. All of this silliness was preceded by the cooking of 24 bacon butties, with the help of the very vegetarian Tracy. All of which were quickly snaffled by hungry rowers.


Before I could relax in the sun my Nokia N95 intruder alarm informed me my mother was sitting outside my house and a swift cycle back was required before said effort was rewarded by a free lunch for myself and him-indoors.


Once again I was so hungry* I didn’t really eat lunch as absorb it instantaneously without bothering with things like chewing, this may be because up until this point all of the aforementioned exercise was achieved on a breakfast of three walnut whips* and a shot glass of warm orange juice, oh yes breakfast of champions.


Any time, which could have been used in sewing or cycling, was taken up by sleeping, such a bad person am I…


I did however watch another cycling themed film, Overcoming, I had tried to watch this on Thursday but the husband informed me he was much too tired for subtitles, to which I replied you don’t need to the subtitles their speaking Danish it’s like practically the same thing.


The film is described as a profound and penetrating insight into the hermetically closed world of professional cycling. My review is as follows;


– Can people’s necks really make that noise without breaking?


– These guys fall off a lot, does that mean I’m not in fact a shit cyclist even thou I’m always covered in scrapes, cuts, burns and bruises?


– I’d like someone to clean and maintain my bike… oh yes, thanks him-indoors…


– Lance should do panto, he’s like the ultimate all time bad guy, I made him-indoors dress as Lance Armstrong for Halloween last year, see illustration A


– Ok so perhaps Danish isn’t just like English, oh no wait that’s French…how many languages does this guy speak?




* We went to the house, I love rowing in the Fens, you have such as great landmarks to aim for, such as “the house” “the power cables” and one of my favs “the white sign” which is really just a post, as the sign fell off years ago


*I don’t eat bacon


*I don’t eat the walnuts, him-indoors gets thrown those







Message from a place called “gangster”

(Phone rings)

Husband answers (in Peterboroughian accen*) Hello

His mother in law: Happy wedding Anniversary!

Husband: Yes

Mother in law: Have got anything nice planned?

Husband: Er…I took her out for Breakfast?

Mother in law: Oh yes?

Husband: Yep, walked round to the corner shop and brought some Shreddies…

So it turns out it is our wedding anniversary, its one week before my birthday so we should not forget, but we do, every year.

Today I decided to use my new over-locker, as i did not read the instructions** before using it, it came unthreaded within seconds but I managed to rethread the little blighter quite quickly and without tears or wine and then proceeded to make some samples of stretch seams, despite him indoors complaining of being near blinded by neon spandex

Next step; bespoke cycling clothing ( well in fact the next step is for me to try and re-make one of my current jerseys to see how it turns out)

The rest of the day was spend at Burghley House in Stamford researching a upcoming project, the plan was the cycle there, but as I was going with fellow artist Stu, we went in his car (next time, next time)

I cycled to Stu’s on the Pashley, its a sunny day bike and its still sunny (Grins)


Much research and looking at old stuff/ hearing story’s about old stuff ensued


Interesting place Burghley, do go if you have a chance. It was a most productive trip and helped to formed my idea, which I’m now really looking forward to getting starting on


Back then to Peterborough and the cottage, my sometime office /studio space, for a meeting about an upcoming project during which the blackboard walk was put to great use, then I cycled home, at this point yesterdays exercise started to catch up with me, it was a painful ride into a head wind, which I continued to complain about long into the evening.

Tomorrow I’m going out on Jake, whatever the weather, Bring on the mud…


*one part east London slum lord one part Fenland eel catcher, Americans think he comes from a place called “gangster”

** I have a degree from London college of fashion, I refuse to read instructions for anything sewing based, even if that means breaking it!