Fashion (visual kei) masks

Black PVC mask (iPad photo)

Black PVC mask (iPad photo)

I saw some great photos of cool Visual kei/J-rock masks, and wanted to make one for myself as well. I though I could develop my own pattern, but decided to give a whirl and see if anyone had made one of their own and published the pattern – I was in luck! I decided to give a few of them a try.

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Buddha head bracelet


Close-up of the Buddha charm

Close-up of the Buddha charm

When I was in Hawaii in February I found these adorable little silver Buddha-head charms and knew I wanted to make a bracelet for my BFF. She’s made herself other items with Buddha heads in the past, and she loves silver-tone items, so I thought it would make a really cute gift for her birthday. (Yep.. this is a delayed post… her birthday has passed! No spoilers!) Continue reading

Fabric shopping in Maui

Yep, Maui!  As I write this (this is a scheduled post, so it won’t go up until after I get back.. privacy, youknow?) I’m sitting in a hotel room in Maui, Hawaii, and got back today from a shopping trip to Kahului where I visited three different fabric stores, and thought that I’d share my experiences, along with the fabrics I’ll be bringing back home to Calgary to add to the stash.

Sew Special

Fabric from Sew Special

My first stop was Sew Special, located in the Kaahumanu Center.  This is inside a lovely open-air mall, and it’s a regular retail-sized store.  (Rather than one of the big fabric stores that I’ve visited elsewhere.)  It’s very clean and well-organized, with reasonably good space between the aisles.  It’s largely a quilting shop, with patterns, quilting fabrics, some notions, and a small section of dress fabrics in the back.  I found the quilting kits really attractive (especially the sashiko quilting pattern + fabric kits) but on the expensive side.  (The one I was looking at was a beautiful sea turtle, wall hanging, but it was $63.00 so it stayed on the shelf…).  The staff were really friendly and helpful (especially showing us lots of owl-print fabrics when I commented on a few cute ones near the cutting table), but not pushy in any way.

Finished quilted panel from Sew Special (shot with my iPhone). Click for larger photo

However, I did pick up a few OTHER fabrics at Sew Special – a lovely koi fish print on a teal background (it also came on a black background) ($11.99/yard I think) and three panels (also $11.99/panel I think) one a geisha, one cranes, and the third a tidal wave and a koi. They had the last one made up, which I snapped with my iPhone.  I think that if I hadn’t seen it made up, I might not have picked it up.

One of the fabrics I was looking for was a Hawaiian print for a dress.  They did have some (I think priced at $5.99/yard) but very limited selection, and nothing that really appealed to me.

After going to the Kaahumanu Centre, we headed down the same street to the Maui Mall area – where we thought we’d find Fabric Mart – however after having no luck we popped into a shop and found out that they had moved from the location I had found online… Since I had originally looked up shops last year when we were first planning this trip – I had out-of-date information.  So, we headed to the Kanaha Pond Waterfowl Refuge, and then from there to the Discount Fabric Warehouse on the Hana Highway.

Discount Fabric Warehouse

Fabric from Discount Fabric Warehouse

Finding the Discount Fabric Warehouse was the first challenge, since I hadn’t marked our map with the location before leaving the hotel (and my laptop with GoogleMaps…) and we found TOO many buildings that didn’t have address numbers on them.  Or- at least not very visibly.  Also, although the address makes it sound like the building faces the highway, it doesn’t – so we needed a few passes before figuring out where it was.

Upon entry, there was a very friendly shop clerk, but later on when I was shopping, I found the staff less helpful than I really wanted.  I liked the turtle print above – but only found it in orange.  I asked if they had any other colours, and was told that I would need to look through what they had for it.  Their selection of Hawaiian print fabrics wasn’t extensive – but they were all very well displayed and easy to look at.  Most clerks at fabric stores I’m accustomed to have at least some idea of the fabrics they have if they have it in multiple colours, so I didn’t think it was a strange request… but eventually I found mustard yellow, brown, and then finally the green above.  I was really looking for a navy blue, plum, red, or black – something more in my colour scheme, but I couldn’t find any.  The Hawaiian fabric was between $4.99 and $5.99 per yard.

I also picked up a panel of the Mt. Fuji print which I have the sneaking suspicion that I might already have, since I saw it a while back and really liked it….  I also saw a number of Asian prints, mostly priced at $5.99/yard) including some different sushi prints that I really liked.  There was the sushi print with the names above on blue and red, plus the sushi meal print directly below in red, blue, and this grey/black, and the one below it (sushi without names) in black and red.

I ended picking up 4 yards of the one on the very bottom… kind of thinking of the Steampunk In Tokyo costume idea… though I haven’t really fleshed out yet what that will be…

Fabric from Discount Fabric Warehouse

Discount Fabric Warehouse has a fairly large selection of fabric, but at least half are cottons or poly-cotton blends. (So very quilting-friendly.)  There were a lot of dress and costume fabrics as well, but not a lot of colour ways.  The prices were generally slightly better than Sew Special, though there were a few items that I liked, but found a bit too expensive to pick up.  (A nice devore satin for starters…) They also had a few gorgeous colours of spandex velvet ($15.99/yard) which I toyed with… but I’d want at least 4 yards, and that would start getting really heavy and bulky to pack to come home again.  (I only packed my suitcase 2/3 full on the flight here though!)   Although most of the fabrics seemed to be priced just slightly better than Sew Special – I did find some of the same fabric I’d bought earlier – and instead of $11.99/yard, it was $13.99/yard – so ‘discount’ might not be entirely accurate!  It appears from their website that Discount Fabric Warehouse is a chain on several of the islands.  The shop also had a small pattern section and a small notions section too.

Fabric Mart

Fabric from Fabric Mart

Finally, as we were heading out of town, we saw Fabric Mart on the road heading out of town! Such good luck!  This is a shop crammed full of fabric – much of which is in the window (ak! sunshine = sun bleaching!) and much of it on shelves completely out of sight and relatively inaccessible.  There is a HUGE selection of Hawaiian prints – think of a colour, and they’ll have it.  Think of a (typical) motif – they’ll have it! (Mind you, I didn’t see any of the turtle print I had picked up just a few blocks earlier – but Fabric Mart is so stuffed, it’s entirely possible that I just couldn’t see it under all of the others. The Hawaiian print fabrics were also the best price I’ve seen so far – $2.99-$4.99/yard – with plenty of selection at the lower price.

There’s also a decent quilting fabric section – though equally difficult to browse through, and then a fairly decent fashion fabric section including taffeta, sheers, laces, PVC/vinyl, fun fur, and swimsuit knits.  I really liked some of the glitter PVCs (what fun!) but I don’t think it will wear as well as I would want it to for what I have in mind.  I think it was $14.99 (but don’t quote me on that..).  There was also a small notion section which I found kind of difficult to look through unfortunately, but I really wasn’t looking for anything in particular, and there was nothing special there that I wouldn’t find at home anyways.


Last time we were in Hawaii (on the big island) I ended up actually picking up some fabric from Wal-Mart (they still have a cut fabric section…).  They had lots of cotton poly prints but also lots of rayons, and I found a few things there I liked.  This time in Maui the Wal-Mart seemed to have 3x the number of bolts of fabric, also the poly-cotton and rayon Hawaiian prints – but unfortunately nothing really appealed to me.  The prices were good – but I don’t remember the exact prices – I think most of the poly-cotton was in the $5.49/yard range, though I could be mistaken.

 Maui Quilt Shop

On a different day we also headed into Kihei, Maui, and hit the Maui Quilt Shop.  It certainly is a classic Quilt Shop – very small, and packed tight with lots of ideas, samples, fabrics, and patterns.  I found it a little too tight actually, and know that I missed some things that were hidden under other things.  Also, because it was so tight, having just a few other shoppers in there made it very crowded and difficult to get at things.  I really wanted to get a little bit of a beautiful turtle print – but skipped it just because it seemed like such a hassle.

Another disappointment, I could have sworn that I had seen their kits on their website for a very good price, but when I looked back at the website before going – those prices had been removed.  Once there, I found that the prices were not as good as I had hoped – the same Sashiko kit that I had considered at Sew Special for $63.00 was $70.00 at the Maui Quilt Shop; which was just too dear for me to justify.  I did however, pick up a cute little turtle pattern and fabric kit (for $10.xx and $30.xx respectively) but it was only after I had left that I realized why the pattern looked so familiar.  It’s made by a Calgary company! I could have easily picked it up here I’m sure… but oh well!  Sorry no photos – maybe once I have it made up!

A Steampunk in Tokyo

When I started thinking about my “Mysterious Sub-continent Steampunk” costume, I couldn’t help also think about an Asian-inspired Steampunk costume as well.  I thought about doing a bit of research to start off to see a) if there are interesting things already being done b) if anything appeals to me, and c) if there’s anything I really want to do…

From Fragile Whispers - click for original

To start off – one of the images that first got me thinking about this was from Fragile Whispers on Deviant Art.  I agree – I think this would be a sweet costume to make – though if I were going to make something like this, I’d make some significant changes for myself and my own body-type.  I like the colours (for Steampunk that is) with the golds/browns/creams/etc contrasting with the small touches of blue.  I like the corset and the bodice top, along with the bustle-like overskirt.  The front panel really does make it more Asian, along with the closures on the bodice, however beyond those touches it really requires the styling for the “Asian” element to come through. Still, what a great inspirational image!

From Laui Lashire - click for original

Next up, another image from Deviant Art, this time from an artist Laui Lashire.  I don’t think the art in this piece is as successful, though I really do like some of the elements she’s captured.  I love the kimono sleeves (with the banded top), the harness, the bustled overskirt/apron, and the wrap-front top.  This definitely feels more ‘modern’ steampunk vs. Victorian steampunk though, and I think I’m leaning more to the Victorian side of things…

This next one I LOVE.  It’s very much comic/graphic novel/illustration style though – more about the ‘story’ than what she’s actually wearing (which means that it’s often hard to interpret). This is from Mongrel’s Sister on Deviant Art. I think it’s the details in the image below that really work for me – the extra-large brass grommets on her tall boots with the embellished heel – along with the little peacock knot covers… the neck collar with the bow and cameo, the smoking headpiece with cogs and clock hands…  and despite the intense colour (which the artist says is slightly different from the expected Steampunk colour scheme) I adore the colours as well – the red looks so lush and ornate…  (I don’t totally dig the mis-matched eyeshadow or the bow tied in the front for the obi, but I digress…)

From Mongrels Sister on Deviant Art - click for original

Also from Deviant Art I thought I’d share a photo of a costume – I think this one is a little more on the nose than I’d like to go for, but I can appreciate the thought behind it. This is the Steampunk Kimono from Tanya.  Another that I found, but didn’t love enough to post an image (but still wanted to include for reference sake) is by artist Pooling Waters, and his Steampunk Geisha.

From O.F.A - click for original

Another image like the one above – where it’s more cartoon-y and less realistic is from the “Opium Fashion Agency” which appears to be clothing for computer game characters.  I only understand this in theory, having never played these games nor had any interest in playing… but nonetheless – cool costume!  I can’t say that I love the British flag use – though I can see this becoming a beautiful contrasting fabric instead. (Click here for a super-large version.)  There are some really cool details in this costume too – the little tiny hat, the tiny ‘Chinese lantern’ hair sticks, the neck corset, the gears/chain/keys embellished corset, the bustle…  There are also some elements I don’t care for as much – the bustle doesn’t seem to go anywhere -there are red bows at the sides for all of the pleating – but it’s nowhere to be seen in the front, and I don’t like the tiers of ruffles on the sleeves.  Still I think it’s a really interesting interpretation of the theme.

From Nerf Gun Bobbins - click for original

Next up… now this is really interesting!  From Nerf Gun Bobbins, a geisha costume from a contest.  I think it’s the strapping that really makes this one work… using a traditional kimono shape, with kimono fabric, and then adding the strapping and buckles to connect pieces and transform the overall structure into something quite different.  On the downside, as a Steampunk costume I don’t love the colour combination, but like the overall effect.  This too is a bit more modern than I think I would want to do – though I can definitely see how this could be adapted by making the length longer (my heart dreams of floor length, but the part of me that hates having my dress stepped on will settle for ankle-length), adding a bustle, perhaps doing something in the neckline area.. etc…

On Craftster there’s a costume (top) taking a straight jacket, cut in Asian-inspired brocade, and with a small bustle added into the ‘tail’ of the jacket.  It’s not what I want to do, but I thought it was interesting enough to include as well.

DragonFly Designs - click for original version

I would be foolish to try to put together any inspiration post for Asian-inspired Steampunk without including a photo from DragonFly Design’s Steampunk Geisha.  I adore pretty much everything she’s done here from the colour scheme (although I can’t say I’d be able to wear that golden-green shot dupioni silk corset!) to the cut, to the accessories.  It seems like a beautiful fusion of Victorian Steampunk and Asian.  With this outfit, it really is the accessories that sell it – though the costume itself is wonderful too.  Click the link to see more photos in-progress as well as lots of up-close photos of the accessories and back views with a beautiful bustle.

Years ago I found a post and some photos by a woman who made a Victorian Polonaise out of sushi-print fabric, and although this isn’t what I actually want to make, it certainly has some of the flavor of what I have in mind.  I hunted and hunted over the web, thinking I remembered it from the Great Pattern Review Truly Victorian page, but after not finding it there, and being curious about the other patterns, I finally found it on the Past Patterns page instead. The #904 – 1880’s Polonaise and Walking Skirt is near the bottom of the page – click the link for a photo.

So – jumping off from there, I think that Truly Victorian TV410 – 1873 Polonaise would be a good start for a pattern, and I love 1880 Split Pannier Overskirt… though I don’t know how it would look on me.  Ah.. I think sketching needs to come before patterns!

So… do you have any other ideas – cool photos or interesting links to share?  Please send them via the comments at the bottom of this post!