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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!

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Washing Silk

While I do plan to create more videos…eventually… it is a right pain in the butt to set up the camera, ramble…coherently no less….for at least five minutes, edit out the ums and ahs, and get the video posted.  Traditional blogging is much quicker and so I will probably blog more than I vlog.  At least in this first start up bit where I’m still getting my feet under me.  Plus, I’m sort of cheating with this blog by basically copying my care and feeding page for your perusal.  I updated it, after much trial and error, and am fairly comfortable with what I’ve come up with as a means and method of washing silk.  It takes a bit of time, but mostly it’s hurry up and wait.

So, below are the instructions I have come up with for The Care and Feeding of Silk…also known as Washing Silk and can be found at the links to the left.

Care and Feeding of Silk Fabric

That may be a bit dramatic. Silk doesn’t ACTUALLY need to be fed. But it does need a little TLC to maintain its beauty. Here is what we do when making beauty with Damask Raven silks.  These were the steps obtained after much trial and error, using different soaps and soap combinations.

You may choose to Color test a small swatch. Believe it or not, even with huge advances in dyeing technology, lots of times the fabric will still bleed the excess dye off during washing. This doesn’t mean you can’t wash the fabric, just make sure you are ok with the level of bleed off before dunking the whole big piece. More than likely (but not guaranteed), it will only bleed off once and future washings will result in no additional loss of color saturation. Added bonus to washing first: bleed off will occur in the wash water, rather than on your skin during wearing.  I am a very impatient person.  Also, I accept that color bleed is a fact of sewing life, so I skipped the color swatch.  But do what you are comfortable with.

Color Test: Fill a bowl with lukewarm water. Add a teaspoon of your intended cleaning product. Soak the swatch in the bowl for a fifteen minutes. Rinse the swatch in cold water and roll in to a white towel. If any of the color transfers, there is dye bleed off.  VERY IMPORTANT!  Not just silk, but ANY fabric you buy, is prone to color bleed.  Ever wash a red sock with a white towel?  That is color bleed.  Not saying there is no way to avoid it completely, but if there is, I haven’t located that secret yet.  I promise to share if I do.

Now to wash:

  1. Fill your sink or wash basin with lukewarm water. Ok, not to the top. Leave some room for the fabric so you don’t slosh water all over the place resulting in flooded desolation. Also, lukewarm is something I had to look up. Seriously, I had no idea it was warmish, closer to cold, water. Seriously, who does that to themselves?
  2. As the sink is filling with lukewarm water, add a very gentle soap. I use one tablespoon to a full sink of Dr. Bronner’s Baby Soap. DO NOT use detergents like Tide, Gain, or anything with harsh chemicals…not even Woolite.  I actually began washing silk with Woolite and the color bleed was alarming.  I was pretty convinced my red fabric was going to come out pink from color loss.  While that didn’t happen, and my red is still a vibrant red, the color loss was minimal when using Dr. Bronner’s vs. Woolite.
  3. Submerge your fabric. If you purchased more than one piece, wash each separately and change the water between washes. You don’t want to wash a vibrant red then find the blue in the next wash is now purple from bleed off. You truly don’t need to agitate it any, since when you start the rinse, you will be handling the silk plenty.  I have found that after the fabric is submerged, walk away.  Leave if for at least an hour.  If you happen to be walking by and feel the need to swirl the fabric around, go ahead!  But really, it isn’t necessary.
  4. Move the fabric to the side and pull the plug.  Once the water had drained,
  5. Refill sink with cold water and a half cup of vinegar to begin the rinse. The vinegar serves several functions.  It helps break up the Dr. Bronner’s which is still in the fabric.  It helps the fabric keep a lustrous look to it. And, most importantly, it helps the dye to set.  Let soak another hour before draining the sink again.
  6. While your fabric is soak/rinsing, lay out towels on a large flat surface, end to end.  Like you are creating yardages of towels.  You don’t need so much that you have yard for yard of your silk, just enough that you can roll the silk.
  7. At this point, you have two options:  A) Refill the sink with plain water and let the fabric sit 30 minutes, or B) Let the cold water run over your fabric while you push the water gently through. Think washerwoman on the river bank while you make sure there are no suds left on your fabric. If you choose option A, make sure to follow through with option B when the thirty minutes are up.  They probably wouldn’t really damage the fabric, but might cause you some irritation if you are wearing your new dress with a patch of dried soap pressed against your skin.
  8. DO NOT WRING OUT THE FABRIC! I know it’s hard. You wash the dishes, you wring out the dishcloth. Twisting puts stress on the silk. While silk is generally not as delicate as its reputation leads one to believe, you don’t want to distort it or add wrinkles where none need to be.
  9. Take your newly washed silk over to the towels you have laid out. Spread your silk as best you can on the towels. Unless you have bigger towels than me, you will probably have to fold the silk over on itself. This is ok. Once you are satisfied with your silk arrangement, begin to roll the towel up with the silk inside it. This is gentler than wringing the fabric and will press the excess water out.
  10. Unroll the towel and leave the silk to air dry. This gets especially exciting when you have cats, because they REALLY like silk. If you had to fold the silk to lay it on the towel, you may have to turn the silk once to let the other side air dry.  OR, and this is what I did to keep the cats off:  you can buy a clothes rack and drape the silk over that.
  11. Once the silk is dry, use a pressing cloth and a cool to low heat iron to iron out the wrinkles. Suggested: Test your irons heat on the swatch you color tested. Better Suggestion: USE A PRESSING CLOTH.
  12. Cut and sew your beautiful new fabric in to your new dress or tunic.
  13. Share your pictures at Damask Raven and show us all how you do History in Style.



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Welcome to Ravens Chatter

Hello There!  Welcome to Ravens Chatter.  Here is where I will be…eventually…posting video clips about all things Damask Raven.  From what is MM to differences between Damask and Brocade, different silk patterns and weaves, what patterns I use for costume creations, tricks and tips.  All these things will be discussed and shared.  Raven’s Chatter seems appropriate, since I’m pretty sure I sound like a squawking bird when I talk…and have you ever heard Ravens Chatter at each other?  They share information with each other just as I will share what information I have learned with  you.