Red and Green Medieval Gown with Oak, Rose and Violet Embroidery and Fur Trim

A gown with a red overdress and green underskirts. The overdress has a scoop neck trimmed with brown fur, and it has sleeves that are fitted to the elbow, trimmed at the elbow with brown fur, then fan out in a wide bell shape, with the edge of the sleeve very long at the wrist. At the edge of the sleeve is a stripe of golden ribbon patterned with scrolls. The red fabric is a shiny brocade with a pattern of oak leaves, scrolls and roses. Down the front of the dress is a stripe of embroidery over an ivory base. The embroidery shows red roses, purple violets, green oak leaves and scrolls, and the flowers are trimmed with small pearls. The embroidery is bordered with stripes of golden ribbon patterned with scrolls. The front of the overdress is split and open at the waist, curving down and ending at the knees with the front of the underskirts entirely visible. The hem of the overdress is trimmed with brown fur. There is a wide golden belt in a pattern of large, overlapping loops that falls at the hips. Set in the front of the belt is a large, smooth purple gemstone. The underskirts, which fall to the floor, are in two layers. One layer is a bright grass green in a shiny brocade patterned with oak leaves, scrolls and roses. It is open at the front and split, showing the second underskirt underneath. It is bordered with stripes of gold ribbon patterned with scrolls. The underskirt is sea green and patterned with golden curling vines.One quick thing before I get into talking about the new dress: I’ve signed up with Patreon, a service that helps people become patrons of the art and media they like. If you would like to support me and my work, please take a look at it!

This gown is the result of my most recent contest, which consisted of two parts. I held it on Facebook, and in part 1, I asked my followers to choose between three categories: evening gowns, medieval dresses and mermaid tails. Medieval dresses won, so I spent some time collecting images of medieval dresses I liked on Pinterest and making some sketches, leading to this black and white sketch and contest part #2. (You’ll note there’s no necklace on the finished dress — I made one, then decided it was just gilding the lily.) In this stage of the contest, people just had to like the post to enter. Eleven people did, and the first winner, chosen by a random number generator, was Nikki Paulsen, but she never got back to me by the following Sunday, and so unfortunately I needed to pick someone else, too. (Nikki, if you read this, I’ll still recolor it for you any time! Just e-mail me or leave a comment here or on Facebook.) The second winner was Hannah Bristol, and here was her request:

The style of the dress makes it seem like a very foresty, homey type of gown. I think I’d like to see the overcoat in earthy tones of red with gold accents, maybe with a brownish-gray fur trim, and the underskirts in shades of green.

I’m not sure if I exactly hit “homey” and “foresty” notes with all of the embroidery, satin and gold trim, but the results are lovely, so maybe it’s something Maid Marian could wear when she needs to get dressed up. Hannah, I hope you like how it turned out! I really enjoy trying to fulfill someone else’s color scheme, because I feel like I always learn something I wouldn’t have when I color it by myself. I posted a series of pictures showing the steps in making this dress on my Tumblr, if anyone is interested in that.

My intention is to hold these contests once a month and spread them among my various social media venues, the blog and the mailing list. I haven’t decided where the next one will show up, but it will start on the 13th.

Next time there will be a special Valentine’s Day present for all of my beloved readers, so come back next Friday! Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook for updates and fun things, Twitter for my thoughts and sneak previews, or Pinterest for lovely dresses and jewelry. You can also sign up for my mailing list at the top of this page!

Black and White Party Dress and Ball Gown

Click for larger version (PNG): party dress, ball gown,; click for PDF version: party dress, ball gown. Click here for the list of dolls.

Bad news: I simply won’t have time this weekend to post something on Saturday or get the tail tutorial finished, and obviously I missed yesterday. Good news: I felt so guilty about this that I drew two black and white outfits for today! Abigail suggested that I add some new ones, and they happen to be really suited for days where I don’t have much time to draw. I’ll have to do some more contests so I can color a few new things (though I have a couple I still have to color from old ones).
Speaking of which, I am really-super-out-of-time now, so I’ll have to leave this post as it is!

Kimono Basics #2: Black and White Furisode

Click for larger version (PNG); click for PDF version. Click here for the list of dolls.

There are several types of kimono, and you can tell them apart by looking at the shape and the design. Today, we’ll just look at what you can tell from the way a kimono is cut and worn, which says quite a bit about its wearer even independent of the color, pattern or type of fabric.

The way the two sides of the kimono are crossed over each other is important for two reasons: It tells you whether the wearer is alive or dead, and about how old the person is. This first point being of some importance, if you intend to draw or wear kimono, please take care you’re doing it the right way! Living people wear kimono with the left edge lapped over the right one; corpses are dressed the opposite way. I always mix up left and right, so I find this hard to remember sometimes. In Girl Scouts, for making a square knot, I was taught “Right over left, then left over right, makes the knot neat and tidy and tight.” When trying to remember which way it is for kimono, I adapted the rhyme: “Not right over left, but left over right, will prevent nice little old ladies from being horrified at the sight of you and trying to fix your kimono right then and there.” This rhyme is maybe a little less elegant, and it is probably easier to remember that the lines should look like a “Y.” As for the other point, generally young women wear the kimono crossed high on the throat, while a slightly deeper V is how older women wear it.

The sleeves of all kimono end at the wrist bone, but the part that hangs off of the arm has significant meaning attached to it. (It’s called the furi (振り、ふり), if we’re going to get really technical, and the part that the arm actually goes through is the sode-tsuke (袖付け、そでつけ). I didn’t know those terms until I looked them up, though.) For young, unmarried women’s formal wear, that part is so long it nearly reaches the hem of the kimono, and the corner furthest from the body is rounded. For all other types of women’s kimono, that part is shorter (falling slightly below the fingers, when the arms are at the side) and less round, while for men’s kimono the corner is square.

Since the nape of the neck was traditionally considered especially alluring, the neckband of the kimono is set off from the neck. Young unmarried women, who are supposed to be the most prim and reserved, have about a fist’s worth of space from the neck to the collar; older women can set it off just a little bit more (although my book on wearing kimono, which I sense is a little on the conservative side, recommends one fist’s worth of space for everyone) while geisha wear it so low that they’re nearly showing their shoulders.

As with the way the neck is crossed, an obi tied higher on the ribcage indicates a younger wearer, and one tied a little further towards the waist indicates an older one. The obi-age (帯揚げ、おびあげ, a sash that goes under the obi and partially shows above it) is very prominent on a younger wearer, while for an older one it just slightly peeps above the obi.

The most common knot the obi is tied in is called the “taiko musubi”: this is the knot that looks rather flat and boxy. For young, unmarried women’s formal wear, it can be tied in more elaborate ways.

This kind of kimono is called a furisode, and it’s not the last time you’ll be hearing that word. Now, what can you tell me about the person wearing this kimono? If you’ve been following along carefully, you should be able to come up with five things about the wearer.

Edit: I wrote that the first one to post all five things in a comment would win my standard prize, and Janani got all of them in the first comment: the wearer is alive, female, young and unmarried, and wearing it for a formal occasion. Congratulations!

Grey Kimono with Floating White Camellia Pattern Inspired by Sanjuro, plus bonus Black and White Kimono

Click for larger version (PNG):grey kimono, black and white kimono; click for PDF version: grey kimono, black and white kimono. Click here for the list of dolls.

Brian and I signed up for Netflix again recently. We had it a few years back, but canceled our subscription when we both went to grad school and then when he started his own business, leaving us little time to see each other let alone watch movies together. Now, with more reasonable work schedules, we’re merrily filling up our queues again — although I think I got up to around 300 movies in my queue last time, and I’m trying to be more restrained this time around.

The last movie I got was Sanjuro, a samurai movie directed by Akira Kurosawa, and I asked Brian if he wanted to watch it with me. “It’s not going to be like that other one, is it?” he replied. “That other one” would be Rashomon, which we went to see last year; Brian had never seen it before, so he went into it expecting some fun sword fights presented from different perspectives. After he crawled out of the theater, he was despondent about the human condition for a full week. “I don’t remember the description too well, but I think this one’s supposed to be funny,” I replied, a little hesitantly, thinking that I really shouldn’t be so impulsive with that shiny “Add” button.

Luckily, I was right: I think Sanjuro is the funniest samurai movie I’ve ever seen, although it’s hardly a comedy. Toshirō Mifune plays a wandering samurai who lends his expertise – less out of pity than from exasperation at their incompetence – to nine young samurai trying to save their clan leader from being framed for corruption. I don’t like to give too much away, so if you like samurai movies, see if you can find this one somewhere.

I’ve taken a stab at drawing a kimono here – my first one, and it sure does show, so if you know more about kimono than I do, please forgive me. I have a passing acquaintance with the various kimono rules and guidelines, but I’m no expert yet, so rather than a formal kimono I was aiming for a more casual and stylish look. (It might help to know I’m a big fan of CHOKOとチョコと, Mamechiyo — just try to tell me this isn’t awesome — and so on) The main design is a reference to the climactic scene in the movie, where the signal to attack is a mass of camellias floating down a stream. Now, camellias are apparently a rare design for kimonos, because the entire flower drops off the plant at once, instead of petal by petal; this was thought to be evocative of beheading, and therefore not the kind of imagery you wanted all over your sleeves. My design is intended to reference the movie, so I will not worry about emblematic misfortune. (But, should your doll accidentally get her head ripped off, she’s in a better position than a samurai — just print her out again.) Incidentally, the white thing on the obi (the sash around the waist) is the sail of a boat – I didn’t position it right, and it’s covered up by the obijime (the yellow cord). Since you can’t see the back of the obi, you have to imagine that the large, flat knot at the back has a pattern with two more boats on it, for a total of three boats. That would be a not-so-subtle reference to the actor Toshirō Mifune, whose family name 三船 literally means “three boats.”

Since I missed Saturday, I’m adding a bonus today, a black and white kimono. Kimono are all about the patterns and colors, so I thought it would be much easier to draw kimono if I could just have a coloring-book style page to test colors on. I’ve been reading about kimono for many months now: the problem is that I’m familiar enough with them to know all the many ways in which I could get things wrong. If I draw a French court gown in colors that weren’t popular back then, or a 1920s skirt with a hemline a couple inches off, it doesn’t bother me, but somehow kimono are really intimidating. But now I’ve gotten over this first hurdle, I’m going to try some more designs!

By the way, there are a couple new paper doll blogs for you to enjoy: …. Of Paper Dolls…. and Kat’s Paper Doll Emporium. Check them out and leave nice comments! Don’t miss the other delightful paper doll blogs, either – there’s a handy list of them to the right.

Prismacolors used: Cool Grey 10%, 20%, 30%, 50%, 70%, Sandbar Brown, Aquamarine, Light Aqua, Indigo Blue, Blue Lake, Powder Blue, Black, Sunburst Yellow, Goldenrod, Tuscan Red, Crimson Red, Dark Umber and Light Umber, Verithin Black, Sakura Souffle White Gel Pen