Designing for Etsy...

I am so excited.  My husband an I just finished making all the little adjustments needed to make my Etsy banner work.  You would think that with two artists who work mostly digital this should have been a breeze.  Not so!  The crazy restrictions Etsy has placed on the size of the banner have made it practically impossible to work within the usual logo design rules.  Etsy calls it a banner when it's really an icon. Anything that is 100 pixels, yes pixels high is an icon.  Too small to be called anything else.

When I read 'banner' I thought logo not icon.  It took much longer to design around the restricted size then either of us expected.  Drawing letters and the little fox mask just one pixel at a time.  Tedious but I think worth it.

I really wanted something that spoke to the Japanese culture that is such a big part of the inspiration for my store.  After hours of searching for ideas I came upon some images of Noh masks but I didn't love most of the designs for a store identity.  I really wanted something more accessible and pretty.  Then we remembered a japanese anime called "Kakurenbo".  It's a spooky little story but the children in it all wore the most amazing masks.  All this research evolved into a Kitsune Noh style mask.  Kitsune is a fox in Japanese lore.  I will explain Kitsune a little.  The best way is by using an excerpt from the book Kitsune.

"Kitsune is an animal supposed to be mysterious, fascinating, and mischevious. And is believed to be very grateful for the kindness done to him, as seen in many tales, and is also affectionate as revealed in some dramas. He is enshrined as a god because of his supernatural power. He is endowed with the subtle art of metamorphosis, and he is able to bewitch men in the guise of a charming girl. An exceedingly interesting and entertaining beast Kitsune is."

There is much more but that is the general idea.  Here is the link to my Etsy store with the banner in place


I've had such a night!

I promised to blog more and look two days in a row.  Today was one of those days, you know the kind where everything just goes wrong.

So I am working on handbag designs for the store and I'm really excited because I am trying out a new design tonight.  Everything is cut out and I'm ready to work.  I get a few seams done on the straps then pressing, a few more seams and back to pressing.  Well that was the plan except my second attempt at pressing met with my iron sputtering.  Ok irons sputter a bit at times but this time I got sputtering then no more heat :( aw (insert expletive here).

Back to the sewing machine I go thinking I can get a few more seams done before I call it a night.  Fabric's under the presser foot and what do I get.  Knots and more knots.  Cursing under my breath I think to myself maybe some thread is tangled in the bobbin.  Out comes the bobbin nothing, then the bobbin casing.  To find, wait for it, nothing.  So I clean it out anyway just for good measure put everything back together re-thread and double-check all the adjustments.  Alright now I am going to try again.  You can all see where this is heading right?  Not me I'm thinking at this point it will work fine like it just did on the test fabric.  So on to the silk, no luck the stitching is all over the place and skipping. (insert louder expletives now, really loud!)  I am not happy, on the verge of tears.  All three of my sewing machines are now broken and the one that went down tonight is the worst because it's two years old and has only been used about a dozen times.  This means no warranty.  Sigh, just sigh.

Fortunately the entire week hasn't been that way.  I was able to complete a handbag with no problems and I love it.  It is made from an obi that had some pretty bad snags and smudges.  No problem to work around though.  It's a wonderful rich orange with gold, silver and green embroidery.  I would never have thought to put those colors together but here they are and they work just beautifully.  The Japanese color esthetic has me reconsidering the way I work with color. Hmm, how can I apply this to comics?  I'm sure I will think of a way.  I will get a photo of a finished bag to share very soon.

Super busy with designs and...

I'm already been lagging behind on my promise to blog regularly.  But, I've been really busy with so many business projects.  No excuse really just the truth.  I am back at 3am to bring you a little update.

I tried a very scary thing.  Hand washing the kimono fabric.  I filled the tub with icy cold water and added some Dreft baby laundry soap, took a deep breath and dunked.  Yay, it didn't bleed or fade at all.  It was so dirty though.  Had to repeat the hand washing 3 times before the water ran clean.  I should have photographed the filthy water, maybe next time.  Super happy with the beautiful bright clean fabric.  It will now be easier for me to match the color of the silk I will need for the skirt and bustled train.

The pattern for the corset top for the gown has been drafted and next I will make a toile before moving on to cutting the silk.  Cutting that silk will be stressful.  I am limited while working with kimono fabric to very narrow, just about 14 inches across and about 450-470 inches of length.  No mistakes allowed, I can't just run to the local fabric store for more fabric.  I will definitely be measuring twice no I think three times just to be safe.

I've also been researching I.R.S. requirements and LLC costs.  Ouch that last part is going to cost quite a bit.  More on that later.  I guess I have been pretty busy.  I will try to post something on the jewelry designs soon.

Everyone meet "Joan" not Mad Man's Joan but….

On Saturday my doorbell rang and I heard a big thump outside.  It was the Fedex delivery guy or girl.  I will never know because they were speeding away before I opened the door.  There on the porch was the box containing my new dress form.  I've been wanting one for so long but couldn't justify spending the money until now.

Into the house I go with the giant box that was much lighter then I expected.  I ripped off the tape because I have no patience and stopped... right there.  Before my eyes was a dress form with the most interesting shaped, um well no way to say but say it, breasts!  My brand new "uniquely you"  looked a bit like a caricature of a 1950's pinup.  I asked my husband for name suggestions, he took one look and she became "Joan".  Yes she is named after Joan on Mad Men.  I adore the character so I agreed.

uniquely you sans cover
At this point as much as I wanted to fit the cover right then it had to wait until we finished with our deadline for the DC comic JSA All Stars.  Tonight it was time to fit the cover.  The size was surprisingly close to my measurements.  I only had to take in the waist a few inches and I was good to put the cover on.  A warning to anyone looking at the uniquely you forms, putting the adjusted cover on is hard.  It took both me and my husband to wrestle her into it.  I think this form will get lots of use.  One of the best things about it is in fact that it squishes (technical term?) for corseting.

"Joan" with the cover fitted

Planning and designing

I've been sick for the last three days with food poisoning, yuck.  It's been pretty awful and kinda wonderful at the same time.  What!!  Ok I have to explain that part because I'm really not that crazy.  Food poisoning meant fevers and sleeplessness and some things that are just too much information.    Doing a lot of television channel hopping and couldn't really find anything to hold my interest so I ended up watching one of those horrible wedding dress shows in re-runs.  This got me remembering how much I use to enjoy working with brides, designing and sewing their wedding gowns.  A plan came to mind and I started sketching a couple of gown designs.  This one of a kind wedding dress is being made specifically for my etsy store.  I hope to have it complete for the grand opening.

This morning I'm sipping a yummy latte (made by my awesome husband) and surfing the internet for a little while before starting my workday.  I head over to the bay to hunt for the perfect kimono fabric for the wedding gown.  Lucky me, I found it in just a few short minutes.  As soon as I clicked on the photo I knew I had found the one.  This fabric spoke to me.  It's karieba/karinu furisode fabric.

Karieba/karinui is the cut pattern of the kimono roughly basted together.  It still needs unpicked, lined and finished to be worn as finished kimono.  Furisode is the most formal kimono of young unmarried woman it is most often seen at the Coming-of-Age Day ceremony when a girl turns 20.  It is easily recognized by the very long flowing sleeves, beautiful patterns and often has embroidery and hand painted designs.

While the fabric I chose is old and possibly vintage, it has never been worn and is in excellent condition.  I am trying to re-purpose damaged or un-wearable Japanese textiles into new jewelry and garments.  It would seem like unworn fabric wouldn't fall into this category but it does and this is why.  Chances are because this fabric has ended up on the bay that it will never be finished into the intended furisode.  The industry of kimono makers in Japan is sadly dwindling and I am unaware of many people in the United States who have the skills for the hand work required for kimono.  I am ecstatic to have purchased this gorgeous furisode bolt.  It will be a long fidgety couple weeks while I wait for delivery of the fabrics.

In the meantime I will begin drafting the pattern for the gown and working on the toile.  I like to have a few projects going at once.  It gives me time to step away and evaluate my process and design.

Here's a little peek at the images from the online store

I will try to obtain more information about the motifs in the fabric to share in a future post.

new year and new fabrics

Going thru my existing  japanese textiles and deciding what I will  re-purpose into new jewelry or garments.  I have one very geometric obi that is stained and has some small holes it's a beautiful orange color with metallic gold and green embroidery.  One wedding kimono, pale pink with elaborately embroidered cranes and flowers.  She, I don't know why but this one is a she, she is very damaged and dirty.  I think someone probably took her to a dry cleaner and made the damage worse.  I am going to have to get very creative to save her.  Last but not least the wool kimono from the last post.

In the past two days I have done a bit of online shopping for additional materials and inspiration.  I've added a few new things.  It's a bit disconcerting to buy online since you can never be sure of the color displayed on a computer screen.  I suspect by the pinkish tint in the background on these that there will be a little less pink in the garments when they arrive.

I really love this Showa period fukuro obi.  This piece is just asking to become a underbust corset.  I think I will leave out the front opening busk for this one to keep the embroidery intact.  The traditional japanese use of pattern and color are outstanding on this obi.  It makes me happy just looking at it.

Admittedly I have a small obsession with wedding garments so I went looking for obi to re-purpose into bridal corsets and clutches.  Purchased these two lovely fukuro obi fabric bolts that have never been made up.


There are a few more items I am going to try to obtain for materials later today.  Wish me success on the bay.

More progress on the toile.  Added boning channels ,boning and made small adjustments to the hip areas in the front and back.  I am really happy with the shape and fit.  The toile is creating a nice waist reduction and flattering curvy shape.  Can't wait to start the corset but, I have a coloring deadline for DC Comics in just a few days.  Sewing will wait until JSA All Stars issue 15 is off to the printer.

Our Ragdoll cat Alexander loves my space.  Hard part is keeping the paws off the material!  He is enjoying playing with the boning.