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plain weave

I was talking with a friend last week, and she was trying to remember which of Damask Raven’s products she didn’t quite know what that was.  Habotai!  It’s doesn’t help that, while I list the product as Habotai, in product description I use Habotai and China Silk as interchangeable terms.

So lets talk about Habotai.  What is it?  Well, in the most basic terms, we will turn to Wikipedia: and note that while the term itself is Japanese, Habotai is most commonly found and manufactured in China, which is why it is interchangeably referred to by most vendors as Habotai or China Silk in the same postings.  So what is it?  Quite simply, it is a plain woven fabric on 100% silk filaments, plain woven simply meaning that one warp thread loops over one warp thread then under the next thread, and so on. For easy reference, typically quilters cotton, broadcloth, and muslin are found in a plain weave.

While it’s not a fancy weave like Damask or brocade, Habotai is wonderfully reflective, showcasing the best iridescent qualities of silk.  Regardless of what color the Habotai weave has been dyed, the color will catch and shimmer the light lustrously.  This iridescent quality is a specific property of silk, but with Habotai, there are no distracting patterns to draw the eye away from this quality, which is why  historically, Habutai was used for Kimono’s in Japan.  As an added bonus, Habotai, given that it is a plain weave, is a very stable weave, meaning it is less likely to snag than Satin or Damask would.  All that luster and beauty, AND it’s less likely to snag?  Why oh why is this beautiful fabric most commonly found in linings?

Oh yes, today, Habotai is usually found in the lightest weights, 5.5 or 6 MM, and used for linings on jackets and undergarments.  However, Damask Raven sells Habotai in 8MM white, and 12MM in a variety of colors, because it is such a wonderful fabric, lightweight enough to be used for shirts, blouses, or dresses, but at 12MM it’s not sheer so that it CAN be comfortably made in to shirts, blouses, and dresses for daily wear.

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Welcome to the Asylum

Welcome to the Asylum

That about sums it up.  I run my own company, Damask Raven obviously, which sells silk fabric. When one sells fabulous costuming supplies, one tends to do a lot of sewing.  Why wouldn’t you?  You have a ready supply of what you need to create fabulous-ness, and in doing so you also create instant advertising for your company.

Look what we have!  You too can purchase this and make your very own…. Whatever.

So the next logical step, when faced with at least a year of hard sewing, was to start blogging about it.  But I’m a little leery of blogging about sewing and sewing projects on Damask Raven, because that is not what Damask Raven is about.  Damask Raven is about the silk.  History of silk, how it came to the west, how it came to be, legends, silk road, pitfalls and pleasures of working with silk.  I don’t want to just tack on another sewing blog when there are already hundreds of excellent sewing blogs.

Additionally, since the primary focus of Damask Raven is historical silks, silks that could be used in period costuming, I am worried if I blog about sewing here, I will get bogged down in historical projects only.  And that narrows my customer base.  Silk isn’t just for the historical costumer!  It can also be for Cosplay.  So not just the historical stuff, but the Con-stuff, the Anime and the Super Heroes stuff, the stuff that would make me step outside my comfort zone.  And not just sewing!  I want to blog about everything it takes to become a cosplayer, in whatever genre lights your candle.  Love the middle ages?  I can SCA with the best of them.  The Bard is your Bitch?  I’ve done my time in the Ren Faire Trenches.  Twi’lek…well, that will take some work.  But I’m willing to learn!

So I cataloged my strengths and weaknesses and figured out what I need to do to become at least moderately accomplished as a cosplayer.  While I totally understand and admire the raw courage it takes to put on a costume and go out in public, I also believe anything worth doing is worth doing right.  And if you’re going to do something… Balls to the wall baby.

So, strengths for cosplay.

  1. I can sew.  I mean, expert level, couture quality sewing…when I take my time.  If it’s rushed, I am not ashamed to use pinking shears to finish my raw edges.  But my hand sewing creates invisible seams, nearly machine perfect stitching.
  2. Completely shameless.  I haven’t gone out dressed like Wonder Woman only because I lack the proper costume.  I am not shy and have no qualms about public displays.


  1. Need to lose weight.  I love the body positivity movement, but seriously, for my health, I need to lose about 40 pounds.
  2. Makeup.  I have it.  I wear it daily.  It’s basically functional.  I see YouTube videos of makeup artists turning themselves in to dopplegangers of Angelina Jolie and then Keith Richards and am pretty convinced that these people are the source of legends about shape shifters and glamour spells and that in Snow White, when the evil queen transformed herself…It wasn’t a spell, it was her MAC makeup kit.  Seriously.  I am NOT one of those people.  I need to be.
  3. Hair.
  4. WIGS!  I will probably get around my complete inability to control my hair with copious amounts of wigs.  Not sure where I’m going to put them, but I’ll burn that bridge when I cross it.
  5. Leather.  I can sew any medium that is fabric, including vinyl and latex.  Leather is not fabric.  I either need to get real friendly with a leather smith, or learn to sew leather.
  6. Body paint.  Not like makeup, but like air brushed body paint, so I can be Twi’lek…especially since I’m getting Lekku from Firelight Cosplay for Christmas.

Lot of weaknesses to work on.  Little bit at a time, and by the time Wizard Con in Sacramento rolls around in June, I should be at least a little ready.  Here’s to the new year, and a year of new cosplay!