garments, sewing

Seven Treasures rumination

I’ve had in the back of my mind an idea for the slits on the sides of the Nepali blouse. This would be to leave them open where they are, and insert a couple of panels of Seven Treasures stitch to hold them together. How to make the Seven Treasures lacing is gone over in John Marshall’s _Make Your Own Japanese Clothes_ (page 88).

The thing is that the instructions are for panels which remain the same distance apart from each other along their length.  I’m not sure it will work out for a triangular opening.

And I’m not sure I wouldn’t need to insert eyelets if I used this lacing, as it’s done in a thick material and not with sewing thread.  Inserting eyelets means I’d need something to use as an anvil…and you can see where this is going.

I suppose I could try this out on my muslin version, but really, I don’t expect it to work.

The reason to do this, by the way, would be so that I could get the Seven Treasures-patterned fabric and make the hakama-inspired skirt to match…

garments, sewing

heading up to buying fabric, and altering pattern

I should be going out tomorrow to try and find a suitable cloth for the Nepali blouse. What I want to do is lengthen both front panels and the two back panels, along with the slits on the sides (which hit above my pant line at the current time).

I should need about three yards of material for this, assuming that I lengthen the front and back pieces a maximum of eight inches, which means I’ll need 16″ more material. Normally I’d be using 2.5 yards of material w/o allowing for strategic placement of the pattern on the fabric. Half a yard is 18″. This last time I believe I got 2.75 yards of muslin and it was more than enough for the basic garment.

The major thing is that I don’t want to be showing skin, and the slits at the sides will show my skin (or more likely, undershirt), and the hem is so high that if I lift my arms above my head, I’m pretty sure my belly will show (which makes me uncomfortable normally, regardless of whether my belly is large or not).

One of the reasons I’ve liked sewing is that you get to customize your clothes, so for someone like me who says that just because I’m female doesn’t mean I want to show my body to the world (honestly I don’t know why clothes designers seem to think that female = sex object, even if unwilling), it’s good to know that I can modify what I’m wearing.

So basically I want to make this tunic-length. Slit on the sides but not to the point that people can see my skin. Long enough so that if I reach over my head, no one’s going to be looking at my navel.

As for fabric choice — I’m thinking something between violet, blue, and blue-green, though a brown will also work. I want it mid-ranged to dark in tone. This pattern is a good choice for showing off the print of something like a subdued batik. It should drape well, not wrinkle easily, and not be translucent (as the fabric overlaps itself and the interfacing is opaque and also unbleached, it is easy to see in the muslin version that the muslin is translucent).

I’ll also need maybe .75 yards of interfacing. I want to use a lightweight silk (probably not white), as I’ve noticed the nonwoven stuff tends to roll up on itself after a while of washing. (Granted, though, this was in a ready-made shirt.) This would be encased inside the collar, so it probably won’t get very worn. I’m thinking of cutting the interfacing on the bias, though, after seeing what a stiff collar looks like. I should probably still get at least .75 yards, but I need to check pattern requirements.

I also need to topstitch closer to the edge of the collar, next time.

It will probably be easier next time to use…well, I suppose I can use that white silk basting thread to mark points on the fabric, if I’m using a darker fabric. It’s a bigger pain than using chalk, but I know the silk won’t melt into the fabric, never to wash out, unlike the chalk.

Right now I’m thinking rayon, or a wrinkle-resistant cotton.

M told me that we have another pattern here which is like what I’m thinking of, with the tunic idea — but it’s a bit too untailored for me. The pattern I’m working with has been fine to the point of realizing it was uncomfortably short, and I can easily remedy that. I’ll just have to lengthen the waist and the portion below the waist, and make sure those lengths match before cutting my material.

And I need to get some sleep.

garments, sewing

working again on Folkwear Nepali blouse

I’m back to working on the Folkwear blouse. I need to use a much lighter interfacing next time (this time, it was broadcloth or canvas, I’m not entirely sure of the difference between them), because of the difficulty of machine-sewing over many folded layers in the corners of the collar.

I finished the slipstitching, and got the topstitching on the collar and facing done earlier, plus removal of the temporary basting of the collar to the interfacing. Now all that has to be done before I can work again is that the table needs to be cleared off and wiped down from dinner. Then I’ll work on sewing in the gussets.

It was intimidating to restart the project after so long, but after I got into it, it was easy. I’ve also started making notes on the instructions — I basted in a couple of ties on the wrong panel, making the article of clothing cross left-over-right instead of right-over-left. Which is correct if it’s a Japanese top (where you only cross the garment right-over-left for a dead person), but I’m not so sure it’s correct for a Nepali top. I suppose I can run a search on it.

Regardless, I pulled out the thread markers which said where to attach the ties, and the ties are basted in now, so maybe I shouldn’t worry about it so much.

I also found that my 20% off coupon for my regular fabric store expires very soon, so there may be a trip there within the next several days. I’m still undecided on whether I want to get fabric shears from them…

(EDIT: I just ran a search on my pattern and it’s a Nepali blouse, not a Tibetan blouse, though the permalink probably still says it’s a Tibetan blouse. Sorry about that.)

calligraphy, illustration, writing

notes on materials and recurrence of a beloved character

Just a quick post here, as I’m running a slight fever and should get some rest.

I did some sketches and writing today. The sketch I was able to ink was just in HB pencil and gone over with my black Riso marker. The felt “medium” nib was what I was looking for, if I was going to be making sketches to reduce in scanning, and wanted bold black lines. But the “fine” felt nib wasn’t all that much finer than the medium one. Alternately, the Micron Graphic 1 makes about the same line width, but the nib seems more fragile, and I don’t know if the color is as rich. I think the final factor in this will be which one withstands the alcohol markers the best, or which one I can reliably buy.

I also did some practice writing in a Faber-Castell Pitt brush pen, with very light pressure. I don’t know how the nibs are going to age, but fresh, they’re pretty good for lettering. Which I suppose is good when you realize that they aren’t what you’re looking for as regards hatching, or at the moment, for things other than lineart. I think I have a black one of these (which is a very dense, warm black), but I’m going to have to look for it. This one would also be good for lineart, as it makes a bold and somewhat variable line.

Other than that…I have a certain older (aged) character whom I’ve isolated my psyche from in the past. This was mainly because I’d become somewhat ill at ease with older characters seeking the attention of younger characters — and this judgment is based on a certain acquaintance I’ve (unfortunately) made in reality. Not to say that judgment is accurate. Today, after the last week of looking over sketches…I realized that being older doesn’t equate to being the …to be succinct, “dirty old man” that I’ve had to deal with in my life. For all I know, this character — the written character, that is — could be someone of my generation who is still alive in the future. Which gives a very different outlook on the concept of being aged.

The person I know IRL was shaped by his culture and time. I heavily suspect him of being racist and sexist (at the least — what I know is that he interacts with people based on what he thinks they are, which is based on their appearance), but this is something which occurs when someone is inundated at a vulnerable age by a racist and sexist and heterosexist environment, and never really has the insight to question the messages they’re receiving from whatever limited quarter they think is worth listening to. An older male who both has more insight (and wider range) than this one and who has been inundated in a different environment may turn out much differently. Which then means that they would conduct themselves differently, and they would have more options when it came to social settings.

Of course, this then leads to worldbuilding questions and alternate history or alternate reality. What specifically came to mind was the level of ease of physical mobility (allowing people to be exposed to other cultures, beyond just the “ooh that’s exotic” titillation that I suspect said acquaintance has felt, as ease of travel leads also to potential ease of immigration) and the level of ease of communication outside of one’s home culture (as via Internet or IRL social settings)…because I think that these are factors which allow a greater level of sophistication in social development as regards dealing with people who are different from oneself. And that’s something my character is really, really going to have to have in order not to become like the guy I know, who I perceive as being attracted to a younger person because of what he psychologically associates with her appearance (and additionally, because he can manipulate her without her full knowledge).

I’m deleting some contents here because they’re controversial and I don’t need angry comments. I’ll keep them for my own records — I know what I’m meaning to reference; it’s probable that the text won’t carry the entire message.

I drew this character again today — and felt as though I could make him anyone again — for the first time in months.

book arts, illustration

On possibly getting (back?) into comics

Yesterday I was mostly going over my old sketchbooks. You know, the sketchbooks with the tiny, light, barely readable (sometimes unreadable) mechanical pencil writing in them. I also started a layout for a sample page of a comic, during which I drew a character who I don’t particularly know, but whom I’m interested in nonetheless.

I skimped on the background (particularly the stuff across the street) but I can fill it in, in the final draft. I imagined it as being like this downtown area. Right now the window looks out on an empty lot. ;) I know, Scott McCloud said not to think of them as “backgrounds” but “surroundings”, I know…

(For some reason, it’s easier for me to connect with my characters if I can see them and their surroundings. And it’s easier to imagine them as their own people — and not extensions of “me” — when I can see their faces and their expressions, and then wonder why it is they look like that; how they got to that point.)

It was a good thing I did this — it gives me some kind of clue as to what I’m getting into if I want to commit to a comic project. It also pushed me to think of some kind of action for the character I was drawing. And I hadn’t scripted prior to this, though I do know that some people script and draw at the same time, especially when it’s one person writing and drawing the thing.

When I was into fiction, my major hurdle as far as plot was concerned is that I’d write, but nothing physical would happen; it was more of a meditation. When I draw, it becomes painfully obvious that nothing is happening and that I probably shouldn’t draw out the scene where the character is staring into his or her cup, longer than necessary.

(And then you ask the significance of the cup, which I just realized would go over the heads of the majority of my audience…it has to do with the amount of tea leaves and twigs and their positioning, which are supposed to mean specific things.)

The project I was intending to work on — the world for it, at least — this lends itself pretty well to short comics, as the vision I’ve got currently is that it isn’t going to be clear when things are dreams and when they’re real. …That’s something I’ve had a lot of focus on, recently.

I think that when I was in college, everything was so focused around realism and grounding in literal experience, that it was easy to become disconnected from more dreamlike writing. That space you get into where the borders between fantasy and reality are blurred and you can’t recall if what you’re remembering actually happened in this world or not.

I’ve already got a device which will note to myself the temporal relations of the scenes to each other, and whether each is a dream or physical reality. As the reader moves forward in the series, it will become clear to them, if they’re being attentive, what these navigation keys mean — but my vision is, at least, that they’ll have to figure it out for themselves. Or have someone else tell them. ;D

So the layout I did in 8B Faber-Castell graphite pencil. I like the soft F-C pencils because of their expressive quality. They will also be easy to recognize with light shining through them from behind. This was just layout, so I wasn’t making extraneous details too complicated; I was focusing on what I wanted the reader’s focus to be on, and panel placement, plus room for word bubbles. I suppose later I can get into how to express all of this best on a page, so that the eye naturally moves to what I want it to move to — but I’m too new to getting back to drawing, period, right now, to think too much about that.

Besides, this is meant to be hand-drawn, not meant to be photographic. And if I’m mostly doing this old-school (like without using bases I drew once over and over and over again), I can actually play up the handmade nature of it (like marker going outside of the lines of a shape).

I am, however, now thinking about something which I noticed while practicing drawing kana in black and bright orange last night…that I might want to change font colors for the voices of different characters. I’d probably have to be pretty careful about that, so that the colors aren’t too similar or too hard to read — but I have noticed that it makes a big difference if you want to highlight a block of text if it is bright orange. This is something I’ve seen used to effect in the webcomic, “Kagerou”. And something that I want to use if I (as I dream) make a handwritten book.

I’m not making a spinoff of “Kagerou,” to be clear, far from it (unless we group all psychologically-based stories into one box), but it could be helpful to use color as a visual cue to differentiate when different characters are speaking (as in the case of multiple narrators [which could eliminate the problem of the one-narrator text box that McCloud alludes to] or mental dialogue).

And besides, it’s just fun to write in bright orange.

It may not be fun to pay for color copies for an occasional use of bright orange, though. “Kagerou” has the advantage of being online, where hosting something in color doesn’t cost anything extra. Another option is varying the font (as I’ve seen in the Japanese-language versions of “Yuu Yuu Hakusho”), but that could get ugly and complicated pretty quickly. For one thing, because in YYH, the font is varied according to characters’ tone of voice, not for which character is speaking. And we’ve still got to allow for bold, italics, special effects, etc.

I’m thinking of using legal-sized paper for my magazines — half of an 8.5″x11″ page is just too narrow for good-sized English dialogue, and I’m intending to use a lot of bleeds, so that also factors in. I believe the standard size of a magazine is 18 pages…that’s nine papers folded together and stapled or sewn, and 36 pages to work from, total. I suppose the other two (if we up it to twenty) would be the covers. I’m thinking that if I center my layouts after rearranging the files to print on the appropriate page, this would enable me to fold and staple or sew them in the center, and then just chop off the extra on the edges.

I was using the Pantone Universe markers this last time for a sample image…they work well with Borden & Riley Marker Paper, which I think is supposed to be bleedproof. But the Chartpak Ad Markers bled through it, anyway…of course that’s the xylene solvent base. The Pantones are alcohol-based, and much less strong-smelling than Prismacolor markers (which I think have something ammonia-based as an additional ingredient to alcohol). I have no idea how that image is going to scan or print.

I have had issues with the Pantones bleeding through my regular drawing paper (not printer paper), but on the marker paper, they’re fine. And note to self: do not use the “fine” Pantone Universe nib for hair textures, use the brush. Srsly. You don’t want round edges on strokes meant to represent shading in hair.

I need to either find or re-test my ink swatches, and put them in the project binder. I’m still not very good with metal-nib dip pens, but I can use a brush, which I have several of, not counting M’s stash. And I didn’t even think of this, but I can use diluted ink instead of markers for final pre-scanned copies. I think I heard that’s more difficult than it sounds, though, because scanners are more sensitive than people’s eyes…so I might have to color-correct with a software program if I don’t want mud.

I’m thinking of getting a program designed for manga, despite my strong desire to not have a fresh-out-of-the-package look to my stories. It could help with computones. Or I could go with a free image-editing program and see what I can do there (as a manga software program may not be able to handle greyscale at all).

Hm. Things just get so much more complicated when you start talking about reproducing images, eh.

I have more to add on the graphic qualities I tapped into for yesterday’s practice, but I’ll put it into a separate post.

garments

I haven’t forgotten about you, blouse.

So I’ve gotten a little derailed as far as what I’ve been working on. This is relatively normal for me, though. It’s one of the reasons I keep a blog — to remind myself of what I was doing, and try and gently nudge along focus on a project. :)

I still need to finish slipstitching the collar to the body of the Folkwear blouse, though that shouldn’t be too hard — I’ve got about 6″ or less left, and then I can start with machine topstitching. I think the part I’m dreading is setting in the sleeves, but I’ve got to remember that it’s only muslin, and it’s only for practice this time.

I have more to add, but it’s long, so I’ll put it in a separate post.

garments

Folkwear trial blouse update

I did get some work done on the blouse today, including making the upper four ties and sewing much of the collar — which I should note, initially was intimidating to me. But breaking things down into reasonable-sized chunks really helps me a lot.

I’ll probably work on it again tomorrow, though I also want to go out and get some silk thread for basting (it’s supposed to be easier to remove than standard cotton or polyester thread, which counts when the basting has been machine-sewn over). I should also note that diagonal basting gets caught by the presser foot — I had to keep pressing the thread down with my fingers so it wouldn’t gather the fabric.

I’ve got to remember not to safety-pin pattern pieces to fabric pieces — my fabric pieces get big holes in them that way. Luckily it was just the ties, and it was just muslin.

Either I need to get a light thread and re-baste the relevant sections of the collar…or just try my best to remove the basting after the collar is assembled. (It would have been easier just to machine-baste rather than hand-baste, though the basting would not be removable on the inside of the collar that way — unless I cut it into pieces on the wrong side and then picked the loops out from the right side.) I should check to see if I actually *do* have anything else to baste before committing to a trip tomorrow, though. After all, I could work on this all day straight otherwise.

I’ve been wanting to get some larger-gauge earrings, but seeing as I have less free funds to work with this month, I think that the money would be better put to fabric for the final version of this blouse. I mean, what do I do with earrings? Put them in and forget about them? Whereas constructing a nice blouse would keep me occupied for a while. Plus then I get another wardrobe element. I don’t need more jewelry, really. But I do need some clothing to go with my skirts.

For the final version of this I’m going to need:

1) fabric
2) light interfacing (woven or nonwoven, doesn’t matter)
3) matching high-quality thread
4) silk basting thread

I’m thinking of a dark blue batik for the fabric, but I don’t know if that will work out. If I use dark blue, I can use some of the Gutermann blue thread I’ve already got. But if I’m using batik, a dark bluish green could also work. I should probably check my wardrobe and see what I want it to match. I already know that the purple skirt is out, it has a hole in it. And I do have a lot of blue skirts. Plus I just got two mandarin-collar blouses in blue (one is indigo), so maybe I could do something a little different.

I need to check the tip of the sewing-machine needle and make sure it isn’t burred from sewing over that glass-head pin. I hope I didn’t hurt the pin too bad, either. I think I may have chipped it, but I didn’t think to feel the head to see if it was damaged before putting it back into the pincushion. Need to remember that next time.

(X-posted)

garments

Folkwear blouse trial construction

Got a lot done today.

I was able to work on the Folkwear pattern for a good deal of the afternoon and into the night. Right now it’s just a trial garment so that I am not so intimidated by the thought of messing up nice fabric that I don’t work on it at all.

Hopefully after I’ve done this, I’ll know what I’m actually supposed to do the second time around. And I’ll have one more thing to wear around the house. ;D I’ve been writing down working notes in my sewing notebook, so that should help me next time.

I’ve gotten to the part where I’m supposed to baste the interfacing into the collar, but haven’t done that yet, and sewing in bed doesn’t sound like a good idea. I’ve been up for a long time; I should probably get some rest and start fresh tomorrow.

I think I may sew more in the future. Having a project to direct my waking attention to helps me to not go back to bed in the middle of the day. And it keeps me from being bored. Along with my music, it very effectively helps me feel that I’m doing something constructive, and, at least, distracts me from the low-level depression I’ve been feeling lately. That’s if it doesn’t actually alleviate it.

And I’m gaining a skill! Some method of garment construction that isn’t dependent on yarn. And gets me back to working with needles, which I’m familiar with from the beadwork and that one class I took.

Speaking of which, I should probably go back and practice my handsewing stitches, see if I lost any of them. I have enough scrap fabric now to do this.

For now I should get some rest.