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10 Mar 2013
Van's picture

I swear it is still February..... 2013!! HOLY MOLY the last time I blogged was over a year ago. I have never gone that long without poking my head in. Heh. Needless to say a lot has happened in the last year. To put my boring life short, I moved out, got my own place, got another promotion at work, and .....

FINALLY LAUNCED MY ETSY PAGE!! YAHOOOOOOO!!! Gosh, it only took me about a year and a half since coming back from Japan. 

Could've been worst though. Ha, it took me TWO years to start sewing again when I first moved to Japan, so this is a good improvement. (Yeah yeah... I'm just saying that to make myself feel better about procrastinating). 

I think the biggest push for me was realizing that:

1. I am BROKE like cookie crumbs no one wants to eat.

2. I realized, not that I can't survive at my current job, but that I don't want to be there FOREVER. It's time to move on! 

... again.

3. My ping pong table is lonely and needs to be used. 

4. What? Catch up on old projects and piles of alterations I promised people? .... WHAT are you TALKING about....? 

Okay, so that's pretty bad. #4 should be #1. 

Alright, so without further ado.... my new etsy shop! Fufufu! *love*

15 Feb 2012

Okay, I lied.

Van's picture

My bad. I thought I would have more motivation to update this site. I suck hard. I honestly haven't been touching my sewing machine for the past few months since my October commissions were done. I thought I could knock out one thing at a time and then move along to get this rolling. At this point, about 5.5 months upon returning from Japan, I'm just making excuses and procrastinating. For a while I was busy job hunting. Got a job which was supposed to be just a temporary thing. Now I'm looking for a new job but it's been harder than I thought. I put a lot of time and energy into looking, resume, cover letters, etc. I have to change my game plan because obviously I'm doing something wrong. It only makes me feel slightly better knowing that I'm not the only one in this situation. I know lots of JETs come back to shitty economy and takes them months, even a year, to land a decent job. 

.... I get really frustrated at times. But I just have to keep on plowing cuz that's all I got left to do. I got a new dog I'm responsible for -- A stray/abandon pup that I found outside my dad's place, followed me to my car and laid his head on my lap. I took him home, my bro fell in love with him and we eventually got him taken care of at the shelter and adopted him. He's hella cute but ate a lot of the money I'm supposed to be saving for myself, my business, and my rent money to my bro. lol. Then I have to start at ground zero in trying to get my parents financial assistant for health care. There goes plan A.... life takes you to interesting places. My short term goals have changed, but long term I'm determined to get where I wanna get, but it's gonna be a hard field to plow. It'll be worth it. 

Good news though -- there's definitely lots of opportunities out there. I just need to keep trying. 

This is just a short update. I have backed up a lot of topics that were suppose to be posted here. In due time. Just wanted to let you know I'm still alive. Again.

Here's Chance, the pup.
 
Van's picture

I got a client friend who's commissioning a David Bowie: Ziggy Stardust costume for Halloween this year. Here are some pictures I used for references. I later realized that there were two versions of this. I noticed because while trying to study the painting, the styles on two pictures were different and the boots/bootcovers were also different in these two versions. Duh... lol. The first pic is one version and the last three is the other. Notice the paintings and boots/covers (on some pictures, they were drape-y and in others, they looked like they were reinforced with something thicker and not shiny...). In the final costume designed, I kinda just incorporated the two. What the hell, right?

It looked fairly simple to make but I still wanted to do a few fittings. I did learn some new skills: 1) How to insert an invisible zipper into a dart -- which I applied on the inside of the shoes so that he can slip his feet in easier. 2) How to make shoes/boots covers. I'll talk more about these new methods in later posts. Oh yeah 3) Painted on silk.

So after extensive research on google and trying to find pictures of the paintings on his top... I decided to do a little practice on piece of scrap double sided silk. 10 minutes practice. I just wanted to make sure I got the brush strokes right for the pine trees and able to do the detailing on the cranes. Brushes were good, paints were good. I used Jacquard Textile fabric paints for natural and synthetic fibers. Round-head brushes.

So here is me laying down the kanji first (it actually doesn't mean anything -- just phonetics for David Bowie, and actually this isn't even the original kanji for this specific outfit but was from the other version... yes yes... confusion ensued. lol) Where is Stephanie when I need her for her calligraphy skills?!?! ... Yes that is a glass of red wine.
After that, I laid down them branches! Huzzah! And threw on some pine trees with yellow highlights! Wheeee!
Flower details and the cranes. I couldn't really tell what the upper left crane was really doing in any of the pictures, so I kind of improvised!

I did the same process in the back... but there were really no good pics of it. So I took the liberty to experiment painting the crane in a different position: in FLIGHT! ... but sadly I didn't place it right so part of it fell into the armhole. But it's okay, it still looks epic.

All paintings were freehand -- I didn't pre draw/sketch anything. It's a good damn thing I know and trust my own talents. And my client is a BRAVE man for doing so as well. Hahaha!!
 
And here are a couple of pictures of the boots/covers assembly. When we went fabric shopping, the associates at Britex Fabric recommended us using batting to help him not freeze his legs off. Literally. But we got felt instead cuz they didn't cut by the yard for batting. I used felt the same way I used interface to reduce bulk at at the seams. So yes... it required lots of cross stitching. But it was well worth it as you can see the outcome of the end piece, no slags!
I'm so proud of my darted invisible zippers!! :3 But I think if I practice a little more it'd be perfect. I had to fix it once or twice to get it laying the way I want it to.

Finally sewing the boot/cover all around, and attaching it to the canvas shoes, bought from ChinaTown in SF I believe -- but you can get them anywhere. They are slipons.
I attached them using a curved needle and pliers. Took me a while to get used to the curved needles. I was a klutz with it and actually gave up to use straight needles again. Poked myself a few times and bleed onto the shoe (washed off) ... then decided to give the curve needles another chance. Turns out you just have to mess around with which angle is easiest/most comfortable to insert into the canvas and through the fabric. I think I finally figured out my best way near the end. Go figure - below right is actually not my best method using it but I'll take pictures when I do this again since I'll know what I'm doing this time around. Ha. Yay curved needles! I had to be careful pulling it out with the pliers... broke the small needle already. Hahahahah!! I was praying to GOD I would not break the second one!
The finished! ... It took me about 1.5 hour to finish each since well... I guess I'm just slow. Had to take a few breaks to give my hands/wrist a break. Last details was attaching the rope... I just looped a few strands of thread around it so client can adjust where to tie it. Maybe he likes it in the front or the side? Get your mind outta the gutter.
That's about how far I got in the last two days. Lots and lots of hand sewing... but that part is done now! The tunic should be easy breezy and hopefully can get it to the client by Wednesday evening. YES. Deadline would be met. The finishing of the project will be in future post. :) YAAAY CAFFEINE!!!
21 Oct 2011
Van's picture

YAAAAY! Halloween is here! But like every year, I end up making costumes for others and barely have enough time to make my own. Ha. I thought this would be a really good time to show what I've done in the last four years in Toyama's Halloween Party at Banana's in Uozu City. Epic, drunken fun with what... 6 hours all you can drink and dance. That was and still is one of the BEST parties of the year. Ever. (Although I am no longer there). Just for the "all you can drink for 6 hours" alone. Though I'm not a big drinker, I do enjoy seeing fellow monsters, zombies, and Mr. Peanuts tumble over each other and vomiting into the Japanese gaijin ditch. Hah. Wait... I did that one year too so I shouldn't be laughing. The stories, make-out sessions, drama, and scandals that ensued... good times. :)

I actually don't have a picture of my first Halloween in Toyama in 2006. I think some people no longer remembered me being the dreaded/hated/loved/lifesaver 2006 TOYAMA TEAM TEACHING HANDBOOK! YES. I WAS A BOOK. With pages. It's the edition that is light pink with white lettering. So if you guys have it in your work desk, that's me! Wish I had pics of it but wasn't popular or sexy enough to warrant people taking pictures of me. LOL. I had markers so people can actually flip through me to write stuff in there. I kept that costume for three years until I finally moved out to my new apartment.

Anyway, this was 2007's remake of my SUN outfit from my college fashion show collection. The orange is the SUN outfit (2005), obviously. I used the same pattern for the skirt but remade the top into something more corset-ish. Turned out really fun to wear ... but it was hard to tell people what I was suppose to be. Can't I just be cool looking, damnit? My friend told me I should be a "French Courtesan" --- trying to categorize me. lol. I only wore it once unfortunately. It's now in Japan's dumpsters somewhere. Took me about a whole day to make it and I reused old curtain fabrics. At the party, I had to carry my train around. Booo!

In 2008, I went as a random anime girl with silver hair. I upped it with cat makeup. :P I wish I would have gone as Harley Quinn cuz my boyfriend at the time was the Joker. That would have been super hot. I was already in the color scheme. I had to alter the costume cuz it was too boring. I took in the seams on the shirt to fit better on me and I gave the skirt some lifts so you can actually see the cute red underskirt on it. Plus made it shorter so looked like it fitted me better. I didn't make this costume btw... bought it and then altered it cuz  I never go "as is"... haha. 

In 2009, I went as a mermaid. This took me literally a very short night. I didn't even make a pattern out of it. Sat my ass on the fabric and cut around... took in where I needed, put in a zipper and that was it. That's my actual bra. Haha. I got most sexiest at the party and got a lame hat that the host probably got at the dollar store... Here's me and my friend Anita, who also made her own costume. It's wicked. And the second picture is of a cute pirate chic trying to cut me open. Inspired by the music video by The Lonely Island "I'm on a Boat" w/T-pain. My bf at the time was dressed as one of the sailors. Haha. 
And finally my last Halloween in 2010 in Toyama... I actually put in more effort this year. Tried to go all out on Dagger/Garnet from FF9 and I am damned proud of it. My jacket was ballin'. It was a rush job though and there are many things I would fix (baggy front?!). I'd definitely put more effort into improving it when I make another one, for sure. And I didn't have time to make the shoes or the gloves. :/
The hood was EPIC! I figured out a way to make it big and structured. :) More pics cuz it's awesome. Can you guess who the other characters are?
Sadly, all of these costumes are no longer with me. I know I know.... I should have tried to bring them over but I just simply did not have any more room in my luggage. It's alright though, I can always make better versions. :)
 
That's all for now. I'm not sure what I'm going to do this year. Maybe just be lazy and go as a lolita. I'm currently commissioned to make a ziggy stardust costume and Strider. I'll try to remember to take pictures of the process... Until then. I will try to post more often --- been in a little bit of a dry spell since coming back but I think my juices are starting to flow again, thanks to meeting new people here. Hurray!
04 Oct 2011

Excited!

Van's picture

I just wanted to pop in and say that I want to be a mermaid!!! 

Hahaha.... I'm still job searching and have finished a couple of resumes and cover letters. Having a few friends and family help me look over it so I don't look stupid on paper. But anyway... I found a job posting on craigslist for children's entertainment as a fairy/mermaid/pirate/etc. It's kinda silly but for some odd reason, I'm super intrigued and actually am seriously considering applying... it just looks hella fun, and definitely something different. Hehe. 

Okay --- I don't know why I felt inclined to share that. Probably because I feel super guilty for not updating for so long. But on a serious and happy note, Ebi finally was able to donate the rest of the money from the fashion show (about 100,000yen) to Toyama Aiikuen and they have sent him a big thank you letter in return. We did good, guys! ^_^ .... nearly three months later. Haha... Still!

I am still enjoying my life in the states. I haven't really felt any reverse culture shock or missed Japan too much right now. Honestly I don't know if I'll ever feel a deep sadness for leaving that place behind. I tend to look forward to the present and the future. Japan will always be there. :) So. Yes. life in the bay area is kinda slow job-wise. There are actually quite a few options for me, it's just a bit hard to motivate myself on sewing projects when I don't have an 'actual' sewing lab to work from. But I'm determined to make do with what I got. I did it in Japan and I can certainly do it here. Social wise I'm doing pretty well... my initial fear of not having an already prepped social network when I moved here, pfftshaw. I never needed to fear. 

Halloween is coming around the corner too -- prime time for me to pick up tons of freelance work. Woot. I'll see how my "sewing lab" *coughcarpetedbedroom* comes along... Okay. I'm going to clean up my room and dream about fairies now. 

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