Pocahontas – Disney Princess Kitsuke Project

🎵Can you paint with all the colours of the Wind?🎵

Ahhh, Pocahontas. Don’t get me wrong, I love the movie, but it’s so far removed from any remotely accurate representation of her story, as well as helping to reinforce the “noble savage” trope that I have conflicted feelings about it. That being said, I was looking forward to seeing how I could represent her without resorting to tired or hackneyed accessories and gimmicks. Her outfit is so simple that I knew converting it would be a challenge in sharp contrast to all the previous ones I’ve done, where I’ve had plenty of room for accessories and experimentation. I’m home sick today, dealing with an ear infection, so I thought I’d take advantage of the unexpected time off.

A light brown iromuji, reminiscent of buckskin, seemed like the ideal canvas. I did debate adding suede fringe somewhere but it started to feel like I was veering too far into cheesy costume territory. I remembered I had this lovely subdued brown obi with nature motifs on it, and loved the way the two pieces blended together in a nearly monochrome, uniform way. Unfortunately, the obi is quite short and hikinuki-style, which means the pattern on the tail end is reversed. I’d initially planned to do a relaxed, vintage-feeling obi and I remembered that Naomi had shared a fantastic tutorial for tsunodashi musubi done with a softer, older hikinuki obi. Great timing! It was definitely easy and quick to tie, even in my miserable ear-infected fever state.

Pale blue may seem like an incongruous choice for this outfit, but I chose it to echo the stone on her necklace, and the beaded accents on her tunic. It also had the added benefit of popping really well against the muted brown without being overpowering, which worked out really well. A few beaded accessories from some nearby First Nations communities added the perfect little punch of colour, reminiscent of the fall foliage often surrounding Pocahontas. I’d tried to find a way to include Grandmother Willow when it hit me that right behind her, already waiting happily, were branches of willow buds in a vase that belonged to my own grandmother. How perfect was that? And as I was dressing the mannequin, one of the cats brought down this ridiculous floppy raccoon toy they all love to bits, so of course Meeko had to make a cameo appearance.

We’re so close to the end, you guys! Only Rapunzel is left, and I’m hoping to get her done by the end of the week.

Mulan – Disney Princess Kitsuke Project

🎵True to you heart,
You must be true🎵

When I started this project, I knew Mulan was going to be a challenge. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to lump a lot of traditional Asian clothing together – quite often you’ll find Chinese cheongsam labelled as kimono, and vice-versa. I wanted to find a way to avoid compounding the confusion by putting Mulan in a very straightforward outfit. However, kimono are legitimately inspired by and derived from ancient Chinese hanfu so I knew there had to be a way to make this work.

After finding this gorgeous creamy yellow dress at the thrift store, everything clicked into place. By bustling a green iromuji over the dress I was able to achieve an outfit that evokes her outfit quite well while not deviating from the theme of the challenge. I finished the outfit off with a blue obi with a metallic tiger’s eye type pattern and red accessories to echo the red sash around her waist. The necklace is something i’ve owned for a while and reminded me of Mulan’s makeup in the matchmaker scene, and the pink floral corsage is a callback to her hair comb. Of course, I had to include a nod to Mushu, and this dragon was the perfect finishing touch.

I think I struck a good balance between hanfu and kimono, and I quite like the way it looks, but I’ll be happy to go back to a more traditional look for the last few outfits.

Affordable and Accessible Display Rack

Yesterday evening, yours truly managed to get her finger caught in the exterior door while it was closing. Thankfully nothing is broken, and it was my most useless finger (left hand, pinky) but it’s taped up and quite painful at the moment so unfortunately the Princess Project will be on a short hiatus until likely sometime next week. Thanks for understanding!

Since I can’t dress the mannequin, I figured it would be a good time to share something a little simpler, how I display and photograph my collection. Naomi recently asked me what the rig I used to display my kimono was, so here’s a simple breakdown of what all went into it for those of us who may not have the funds or access to a traditional ikou.

I started with the Honey Can Do expandable garment rack. It has a maximum adjustable width of 60″, and the interior measurement not including the extendable rods was nowhere near wide enough to put a kimono on, so rather than using the included cross-bars, I picked up some 1 1/4″ diameter solid (not extendable) closet rods and cut them to 60″ length. You can do this using a hacksaw but it will take hours, so I recommend a power tool. Ask someone for help if you need to, this isn’t the easiest thing in the world. I also picked up a couple of narrow black tension rods to stabilise the base. I can’t find similar ones online, and these aren’t entirely necessary, they just help the unit look a little more balanced and keep the feet from rotating.

The last step was to make a pair of decorative clips to hold the kimono open during display/photography. I used a pair of inexpensive alligator clips and glued some cute rose cabochons to them to make them a little nicer to look at. You can really be creative here. Fans are a very traditional motif for these clips, but go wild and use anything you like! Once you’re happy with your clips, use some sturdy elastic or nylon thread to attach them to the uprights of the rack. Don’t tie them on too tightly so you can slide them up or down as needed. The top half of the rack can be slid down for storage, and if you make the clips too snug they can get in the way.

To take the photos I’m using in my new visual catalogue, I start by setting up my tripod. I actually use the exact same spot in the house as I use to take the mannequin photos. My backdrop is simply a plain white flat sheet with the top hem carefully sliced open at the ends so I can thread it onto the curtain rod. From there, I just put the rack in place, take my photos, and pack it all up until I need it again.

I hope you found this post helpful if you’re looking for an affordable and accessible solution for display or catalogue purposes! If you make a similar stand, I’d love to see it 🙂

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Belle – Disney Princess Kitsuke Project

🎵 Tale as old as time 🎵

Beauty & the Beast has always been one of my favourite classic fairy tales. From very traditional to a middle-eastern interpretation told from the Beast’s perspective, to cheesy steampunk romance novels, it’s just always called to me. Disney’s version is no exception. Belle was a heroine for all of us awkward book-worms, she was stubborn all while being courageous and devoted.

I found this kimono on eBay back in June, and all I could see was Belle’s famous golden ball gown. Even the heavy kinkoma embroidery roses on it seemed too good to be true. I threw out a fairly high bid on it just to be safe and was shocked when I won it uncontested. That was the catalyst for this entire project. I figured if I was going to do Belle I may as well try all the Princesses. While waiting eagerly for this one to arrive, I scoured my collection and began plotting out the other outfits, trying to use as many things I already owned as possible.

Weeks passed with no sign of this kimono. I’d already started the project and I couldn’t very well just leave my favourite princess out, so I scouted out a few other viable alternatives and eventually settled on one. It was pretty, and suitable, just nowhere near as perfect as this one. The seller was kind enough to refund my purchase and I accepted that this one was lost for good. I began working my way through the other outfits, but I hadn’t yet found my motivation to do Belle. I knew what accessories I was going to use, and even made an obidome with roses and the magic mirror on it, but I just couldn’t bring myself to actually dress the mannequin.

So imagine my shock when the kimono arrived in the mail yesterday, three months after I won it! I was so excited to coordinate it that I scrapped my other plans for today to put the outfit together. To emphasise the rose motif, the obi is tied in bara musubi with a red silk rose tucked in as an accent. Two rosebuds tucked into the front pull in a tiny pop of red, while yellow and gold accessories round the outfit out. Of course, I had to include Lumiere (who was purchased at Disneyland in California earlier this year) and the Enchanted Rose (which I made myself using craft supplies and the dome from an old clock), and even managed to catch a cameo from my very own beast.

I am so happy I waited, everything turned out exactly as I’d pictured it in my head. 💖

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Modern Monstera Ikebana

What first drew me to ikebana was the clean-lined simplicity of it all, the focus on a few sparse blooms without all the fluff and clutter that tends to be found in western-style flower deisgn. I’ve been experimenting a fair bit lately but I was itching to do a very sleek and low moribana-style arrangement, and when I found this gorgeous monstera leaf at the florist I knew it would be the perfect anchor for my next project. This interesting flower was all by its lonesome in a bucket in the flower fridge, and the texture and shape of it felt like a wonderful counterpoint to the glossy green foliage. I’m afraid I don’t remember what the flower is, but if anyone recognises it I’d love to know. The arrangement feels very heady and tropical to me, well-suited for to the oppressively muggy weather we’ve been having lately. I chose a very simple container to anchor them, in keeping with the clean and modernist vibe. I’m also quite pleased by how well the whole arrangement pops against the warm brown backdrop. This one might be incredibly simple, but it’s also incredibly effective.