January Birthday Gown in Deep Garnet Red with Gold Trim and Snowdrop Corsage

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

Here’s the 2011 January birthday dress! I had thought about not doing them this year, actually, but then I had an idea for a March one that seemed like it would turn out beautifully, and now I think I will take another shot at completing a set this year. Now that January is finished, all I will have to do is one for February and I’ll be all caught up for at least a whole week!

I’ve got a good feeling about this year. This year may bring a dress for every month, including poor neglected April, July and August (thanks Liz!). For those of you with January birthdays, I am sorry this one is late; speaking of which, I’m sorry that today’s dress is late in general. Well, Sunday isn’t too bad — and for those of you for whom it is already Monday, well, I throw myself on your mercy.

January’s birth flower is the snowdrop, and the birthstone is the garnet. Incidentally, this is the first January dress I’ve done that I really like. (Technically, I liked the previous year’s dress, but it scanned out really badly and you can hardly see the pattern…)

Forest Green Empire Waist Dress with Red and Gold Trim (Versions 1 and 2)

Click for larger version (PNG):dark overskirt, light overskirt; click for PDF version: dark overskirt, light overskirt. Click here for the list of dolls.

Sorry about the confusion over the last contest! See, we were out of town for the weekend; I don’t like to announce that sort of thing to the whole Internet, so I didn’t say it, but I wanted to keep to my schedule so I set up Saturday’s post to go automatically. Right up until we left, I was sneaking looks at my computer, thinking “Surely someone will guess in the next ten minutes?” On Saturday, I saw my mom, and she informed me that Ana had guessed correctly, so she posted a comment saying that Ana had won — and she should know, because she was there. Then, to Mom’s surprise, people kept guessing anyways! I think she might have even taken it a little personally…

In any case, my birthday was the 3rd, and I had a wonderful birthday, complete with chasing down the FedEx guy for one of my presents, a mix CD from one of my best friends that I listened to while coloring tonight and a perfectly clear night on Puget Sound so Brian and I could stand out on the edge of the low tide and stargaze. (Oh, and my dad freaking out about the aging process, the day wouldn’t be complete without it: I suspect my 30th birthday next year will be a little hard on him.)

Anyways, Ana won the contest, and here’s what she wrote:

ok then cool. first off happy belated birthday and secondly I’d like the first black and white regency gown from may (http://bit.ly/g6yMRy) coloured, please. I’d like dress to be a deep forest green with the accents and trim in gold and deep red (preferably without looking too christmasy in the process).

Without looking too Christmasy? Oh, I think I failed that one right off the bat… Would that Ana had won in summer when the associations wouldn’t be so strong! But oh well, I enjoyed myself thoroughly, and Ana, I hope you like at least one of these versions!

This dress is actually a little difficult – it’s too fussy, and you see the overskirt is actually intended to be lacy or semi-transparent: with the rest of the dress forest green, I thought a forest green overskirt would simply look too heavy, so I originally wanted a semi-transparent gold overskirt. However, I failed to make it look anything like how I wanted, and I gave up and made it white with just a little bit of gold, despite how carefully I try to stick to the contest winner orders. Still, I couldn’t help messing with it in Photoshop, which produced the version with the darker, gold-embroidered overskirt, and I found a place in my heart for both versions. I think the darker one makes the dress look a little more exotic and the whiter one just can’t help but give off that Christmas vibe. Which one do you like better? Take the poll…

Prismacolors used: Dark Green, Tuscan Red, Jasmine, White, Pale Sage, Kelly Green, French Grey 90%, Cool Grey 20%, Bronze, Dark Umber, Black, Sakura white gel pen, colorless blender

November Birthday Gown with Chrysanthemums and Topazes in Orange and White, and an announcement

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

If I get distracted and don’t update, eventually people start to worry if I’m ever coming back. This makes me smile. I call drawing paper dolls a “hobby,” but it seems to have more in common with a curse. When I’m on my deathbed, I’ll probably be drawing the outfit I’ll be buried in — or maybe the one I wish I was being buried in, which will have 90% more pearls.

That said, trying to post something almost every day has obviously come to be untenable. If I’m just coming up with an outfit, it takes from five minutes to an hour to decide what I want to draw and what it will look like, and if I’m researching something like a particular year’s fashions, it might take an hour or two to get a sense of what the styles were like, then that five minutes to an hour again to come up with an original drawing. The time I spend drawing has increased over the years, easily hitting three hours for something with a lot of detail, and then there’s the time involved in scanning, cleaning up and writing a post – an hour, maybe two depending on the post. My job is part-time and the hours vary wildly, so sometimes it’s actually not all that unreasonable for me to take that kind of time working on something, and then just as often I get scheduled for a lot of hours and feel busy again.

Besides the actual work involved, a lot of other factors come into play: do I have a great idea or am I feeling really uninspired? Is there something else I’m really involved in at the moment? Have I put off drawing until it’s fairly late? Would the thing I want to draw take a long time to research? If, after work and chores, I only have time for one interesting activity, do I really want it to be paperdolls? Are my Prismacolors organized, or are all my blues rolling around my desk drawer because I stole one of my plastic bags I use to sort them for a trip through airline security? Do I much feel like sharing myself with the world today, or am I content with keeping to myself, hermit-like? Do I have time to write a good blog post, as well, or will it just be a couple of sentences I pad out so that it doesn’t look so unbalanced next to the dress? What about all those things I said I’d do and didn’t? (If I never heard the phrase “twelve dancing princesses” again it would be way too soon.)

In short, I expect too much from myself, I don’t prepare myself well, then I psych myself out and end up using my time elsewhere or really phoning it in. It’s frustrating and unfulfilling, so I’m going to try a different tack. Here are my main goals:
1) To draw three days a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday)
2) To write blog posts that aren’t just afterthoughts
3) To integrate my drawing hobby with my interest in Japanese

The first two are pretty self-explanatory; the third one is something I’ve been thinking of for quite some time, and I think I’ve come up with some good ways to do it.

Well, we’ll see how I do. Wish me luck! And thank you, as always, for your patience. Sometimes I wonder if I unconsciously sabotage myself with unreliable behavior so that I can deflect notice, hoping to drive people away so I don’t have to add their expectations to the already ridiculous weight of my own. Whether it’s that or just plain old laziness, either way you all are much better readers than I deserve.

Today, a November birthday dress with chrysanthemums and topaz accents. How many more of these do I have to do? I know I’ve skipped rather a few…

White Natasha Liana Gown from Holy Clothing’s Design Contest with Flower Garlands

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

So last year I entered a contest run by my favorite clothing store, Holy Clothing. Rather than “favorite” it is probably more accurate to say that they are the only clothing store I have any regard for whatsoever! This might be a surprise, but I actually hate shopping for clothes: I just find it tedious and frustrating, I don’t like hardly any of what I find in stores, I’d rather spend money on other things and I don’t care for fashion in the least. Since I found Holy Clothing, one of their skirts paired with a plain white shirt has pretty much been my uniform.

They held a design contest late last year, promising to make the winner’s drawing into a real dress: I sent in three potential designs and one of them was chosen as one of four that were then voted on by the company’s Facebook fans. (I can’t find the link to the voting anymore, which is a shame, as all the sketches were very lovely.) I got $100 in store credit for winning, and the dress was supposed to be called the Liana Dress. It took longer than they expected to translate the sketch into a dress, though, and then they wanted to release it in the right season, so it just went on sale this month.

Here’s the original sketch, as well. This wasn’t my favorite of my three designs, and actually it’s not one I’d generally rush to buy myself because I wear my Holy Clothing stuff every day, so I don’t really have much interest in the garments that seem too costume-like or impractical. The reason I designed it is that a fair amount of people use Holy Clothing dresses as wedding dresses, and so I was thinking, what would my ideal Holy Clothing-style wedding gown look like? For this reason, I hope that the next run of the dresses comes in white as well, but in the meantime I drew my own white version for today, with two garlands to choose from. (I don’t own it yet, though, so I don’t know the details of the finished product; please don’t take my drawing as representative of the real thing.)

Unfortunately, by the time the dress came out (almost a year after the contest ended), it seems that some wires had gotten crossed and they neglected to name it after the winner, calling it Natasha instead. I had really been more excited about that than the $100 store credit, so I was disappointed and wrote about it, asking for the name to be changed; after Christmas, they did change the name to the Liana Dress! (Thank you to everyone who agreed it should be changed – I don’t know if it affected the decision, but personally I appreciated it!)

Well, in any case, if you want to wear something I designed, this may be as close as you’ll ever get! Check Holy Clothing out, as well as their very active Facebook fan page.