Marceline blogs about illustration, Japan, crafts and the freelance life. Asking For Trouble is a collection of stationery, accessories and gifts featuring my cute characters inspired by Japanese kawaii.
The last of my posts looking behind the scenes at how I design my repeat patterns. This one is about scattered patterns, also known as random, flowing, tossed or ditsy print.
The aim with a scattered pattern is that the repeat is not obvious at all and the elements face in all different directions, so you’ll often see it on clothing. There’s no clear structure to the pattern, like a stripe or grid and it should look like you casually threw down the design elements. Of course, that is not really the case and getting a balanced pattern that looks random is really hard!
The Sakura cherry blossoms print above was my first scattered pattern. With only one design element and colour, a grid or stripe would have been really boring so I had to make something more random. I used a tutorial in Cotton + Steel designer Kimberly Kight’s excellent Field Guide to Fabric Design book.
I later used that as a base for future scattered patterns. Here’s a video I made of screenshots from when I was designing the Bunny & Panda Snowmen pattern. You can see there’s a lot of moving things around so similar elements aren’t too close together.
And here’s some scattered patterns I’ve made together. Having a mix of big elements and smaller elements really helps fill the space well – and add a bit of depth with a contrasting colour. The Lemons & Limes probably doesn’t really count as scattered but it did start off that way.
I hope this series has been interesting, and you’ll try experimenting yourself if you usually create more basic patterns. I find it all so satisfying and it’s one of my favourite things to do. You can find all my patterns on fabric at Spoonflower – and on scarves, pillows, clothing and more at Society6, Redbubble & Zazzle.
Plastic waste has been all over the news lately and we all know that we can’t keep ruining our happy planet with single-use plastic. I have a whole drawer for plastic cello bags and my cupboard was full of padded envelopes and bubble wrap and it made me feel bad about my business. (Let’s not even start on my feelings about all these enamel pins that will no doubt end up in landfill one day when the craze passes)
I’ve now made a commitment to move towards eco-friendly packaging and shipping materials whenever possible. Here’s what’s happening:
No more padded envelopes
A large percentage of my orders were shipped in padded envelopes that have a plastic bubble wrap insert. I only have a handful left so almost all future orders will be shipped in cardboard boxes or board envelopes, which can easily be reused and recycled. Above was my first all-cardboard day! It wasn’t much extra work but I will definitely need to start some regular ‘Netflix and box folding’ afternoons to prepare for when things get busier.
Have you seen Naked Cards? It makes some very good points. I’ve been sending gift wrap sheets in a board envelope with no packaging for 8 years and have had….ZERO complaints about water damage and one complaint about damage to the print. I think it’s pretty safe to start doing the same with all my paper products so I’m switching to paper bags.
Replacing plastic packaging
Some of my products currently need the plastic bag – my brooches and badge sets wouldn’t stay attached to the backing cards without one, my fabric purses and pencil cases are too easily damaged (and difficult to replace), gift wrap sets need something to keep everything stored together etc. I’ll be considering ways to change or reduce this in future.
More choice for you
All my product pages (+ Etsy & Not on the High Street listings) have now been updated with information about the packaging. Some products will let you choose plastic packaging (if it’s a gift etc.) or allow you to request paper packaging where I’m still using plastic.
How does this affect your consumer rights?
It doesn’t! If you choose paper packaging and the contents arrive damaged, you are still entitled to a replacement or refund. The only exceptions are products where I have stated that you can request paper packaging at your own risk.
I’m well aware that my business is still not very eco-friendly but I’m trying to head in the right direction. Whenever possible I also try to have my products made from recycled materials, reuse packaging, spend my money with small UK businesses and choose Royal Mail deliveries over couriers (since I’m in a rural area).
To celebrate, Happy Mail stickers will be arriving soon to decorate your packages! I’ll also have some in the shop for fellow post fans.
This new series of blog posts will help you with every step of planning your own Japan trip. This time: when’s the best time to visit?
Japan is a country with very distinct seasons so there’s no bad time to go. Every season has different pros and cons – and there will be many seasonal flavours and events that you can’t experience at any other time of the year. And if the weather isn’t ideal for you, head to Hokkaido for cooler weather or Kyushu/Okinawa for warmer weather. Let’s go through the seasons first.
Springtime in Japan is a lot of people’s dream holiday, thanks to the sakura/cherry blossom fever. If you get the timing right, it’s one of the most beautiful sights in the world, plus you’ll be able to try sakura-themed food, drinks and much more.
The downside is that March/April is an extremely popular time to visit and the best viewpoints and tourist spots will be very crowded. If you have to see the sakura, consider staying somewhere other than Tokyo/Kyoto as they’ll be less popular and you’ll get a more unique experience.
May/June will be quieter and hotter with many more flower displays to visit – I saw azaleas, roses, irises and hydrangeas. Just make sure to arrive after Golden Week (when everyone in Japan is on holiday) and before the rainy season.
If you’re used to heat and humidity – and manage to avoid the worst of the rainy season – Summer is a really fun time to visit Japan. There’s events, festivals, fireworks, fireflies, flower displays and lots of beaches, plus it’s the only time of year you can climb Mt Fuji. You’ll also get to try all the delicious icy treats! I’d love to see the annual Pikachu Outbreak in Yokohama but even early June was too hot for me in Japan, having only lived in chilly Scotland.
Autumn is my preferred time to visit – the weather is pleasantly warm compared to the UK and the autumn colours as the leaves turn can be just as beautiful as sakura. Japan is also very into celebrating Halloween with special events at theme parks, costume parades, seasonal kawaii designs and limited edition flavours.
There are really no downsides to this time of year, though September is typhoon season and best avoided.
I get plenty winter weather at home but I would still love to experience it in Japan too. You’ll get the best views of Mt Fuji and can ski in the mountains, bathe in snowy hot springs or visit the Sapporo Snow Festival. The main downside is that the days are very short.
Christmas is just another day, but there will be illuminations in the cities and plenty themed products and flavours. New Year is the biggest event of the Japanese calendar and would be an amazing experience but be aware that many places will be closed and temples will be very crowded.
If you have a particular interest, there is almost certain to be an event you’d love to visit. Just try Google. Here’s some notable ones for the sort of people who read my blog.
This week’s Sunday pattern collects together all my bad weather characters: lightning, rain and snow. It’s now been added to my on-demand stores.
This pattern is for everyone who enjoys a good storm, as long as you’re safe and warm inside. This was a little tricky to balance but it came together pretty quickly. Makes a fun pair with my Kawaii Skies pattern too.
It’s now available in my Society6, Redbubble & Zazzle stores on tons of fun products. I also added the lightning cloud on to a few products by itself.
As always, there’s some good discounts for you. Society6 has 25% off everything today (though if you hold off until Wednesday, they’ll be adding free shipping too). If my shower wasn’t enclosed I would be tempted by this cute shower curtain.
Over at Zazzle , there’s 50% offcards and 15% off everything else today only with the code ZSUMMERSALEZ. You can personalise all my cards with your own messages and names and there’s lots of characters that aren’t in my own shops.
Usually I go and visit my family at Easter but I held out for better weather and picked a fabulous weekend with perfect weather. Here’s what I got up to.
Inverness Botanic Gardens
It was grey and dreary when I left home but lovely and sunny when I arrived in Inverness. One of my hobbies is visiting Botanic Gardens around the world and yet I had never been to the one closest to my home up north. It was the perfect weather and perfect time of year to visit and I loved it. So much colour! It’s not the biggest garden but there’s plenty to see – and it’s free.
My mum always has a few interesting places on the to-visit list and we decided to search for the Fairy Walk at Drybridge, near Buckie. It’s quite well hidden, which is ideal as it’s much more fun to explore by yourself and spot all the little fairy houses. Angel Bunny had the best day holiday house hunting, especially since one had a swing! Some of the houses are really imaginative so hats off to whoever made it.
At the end of the fairy walk is a very old bridge that doesn’t seem very exciting when you walk over it. If you clamber down the side though, you discover it’s a bridge built on top of another bridge! There’s even a secret room in the middle.
Gordon Castle Walled Garden
We had a nice lunch (and cake) at Gordon Castle’s new walled garden at Fochabers and had a wander around the garden too. It’s still a work in progress but there’s some very pretty corners, plus you can see all the produce growing for the cafe and shop.
While the weather looks pretty glorious in my photos – the whole coastline was hidden by haar (sea fog) for days. Look at the total non-view from Portsoy harbour! Your brain gets pretty confused when everything looks like freezing winter but it’s also lovely and warm with flowers everywhere.
It was also my Granny’s 92nd birthday, so there was no lack of cake that weekend. I’ll show you the card I made her soon, along with some others I made recently.
Most of the rest of the weekend was spent relaxing in the garden, but I also worked on some new product plans with my dad – it’s going to take a while but I can’t wait to show you. I did manage to paint a new face on my ghost lock protector, which will be coming back to guard my shed very soon.
In April, Laura at Bugs and Fishes started a new blog series looking back at what she was crafting that month for the last 11 years – go read it! This is such a fun idea that I had to join in and look back at what I was blogging about. It’s perfect timing too as I started my blog in June 2007 so we can jump in right at the beginning.
Even though Asking For Trouble wasn’t officially a business until September 2007, it began a bit earlier as a hobby. My first post is two short sentences that tell you absolutely nothing! The photo is of one of the Japanese fabric purses I used to sew entirely by hand.
June 2008 looks a bit more familiar with a mix of making, business promo, craft fairs and travel. 2008 Me had no idea at the time but this was a very important month. The vintage buttons bags were one of my first big sellers and the sketchbook doodles turned into my first original characters: Cakeify the happy cupcake, Jammie Dodger and Bread Slice. I was also getting ready to go to Thailand and visit Claire, where we’d come up with the idea for Super Cute Kawaii!
Looking back at June 2009 makes me miss printmaking! I was experimenting with my gocco printer a lot and ordered some stamps of my characters. As well as handmade products, I took some steps towards making my life easier with the first printable edition of my Tokyo Shopping Guide.
June 2010 was still very haphazard blogging – I clearly never planned anything in advance! I shared a Bee & Tulip wallpaper along with this new Busy Bee Organiser pad. It’s still a strong seller eight years later and doesn’t look too different from the original.
June 2011 was a quiet month for Asking for Trouble, but I was still kept busy with Pushpin Zines, my now-abandoned zine distro. I was also posting a lot of Japan content from my third trip the previous autumn. My online Tokyo Shopping Guide was growing and I also finished the second edition of my print guide. Getting that box of zines was a very exciting day! I miss the print guides but things change so fast now that it’s not really a viable option any more.
June 2013 has me in the middle of my first monthly free wallpaper challenge (the files are long deleted but there’s plenty more here) and creating patterns with my new 5 A Day characters. I had regular content with Friday catch-ups, Japan links and on-demand spotlights, plus I recapped my trips to the Lake District and Belfast. Most fascinating is the results of a stationery survey I ran. I said rubber stamps were unlikely so Clare from Serious Stamp contacted me and now we have a whole range of them. There’s lots of other good product ideas here including ‘calendar insert for day planners’ that I only got around to last year!
June 2015 includes a few posts from my favourite blog series: My Art History. I had recently brought home a massive pile of artwork from high school to art school and shared the best and worst pieces for your amusement. This post about textile design still makes me a little sad for paths not taken. I was enjoying my new paper cutting machine, making Sunflowers and a Father’s Day card. It was my second year living in Helensburgh and I started to settle in more, sharing photos of my home and type drawer, visiting local gardens and taking a lot of photos from the seafront. I celebrated 1000 orders in my Etsy & NOTHS shops with a comparison of all my online shops. I’ve mostly stopped tracking stats like this, but I did notice I hit 4000 orders on Etsy recently so that’s a big jump in 3 years.
This week’s Sunday pattern features the Pocky from a couple of weeks ago and has been added to my on-demand stores as unbranded generic Japanese biscuit sticks!
This breaks my theme a little as these are technically not characters, since they don’t have any faces – shocker! I just preferred the pattern without – it looks abstract from a distance so it’s not immediately obvious that’s it’s made from Pocky sticks. I also wasn’t 100% happy with the repeat until I turned it diagonal.
It’s now available in my Society6, Redbubble & Zazzle stores on tons of fun products. Perfect for adding some sweetness without being overly kawaii.
There’s some good discounts this weekend too. Society6 has 25% off everything today and I hear a rumour there will be different offers on Monday and Tuesday including free shipping. How cute are these pouches?
As well as the diagonal pattern, I’ve created some products with a few large sticks for a different look. Many of them are at Zazzle including this tote bag, if you’ve ever wanted to look like you’re carrying a bag full of Giant Pocky! Get 15-40% off everything today only with the code SUMMERZPARTY. Once again, my newest products are being slow to show up – they’ll be here eventually!
The latest limited edition Little Ghost brooches are here – and now there’s a whole rainbow!
I spend quite a bit a time pondering future Ghosts and have been considering various colours. Eventually, I decided to order the whole rainbow. I didn’t consciously plan this for Pride Month but that’s a very nice coincidence.
There’s six bright colours to choose from: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. You can buy your favourite colour, choose a fun combination, or even order the whole rainbow for a big discount. They’re also part of the Ghost Gang offer – any 2 brooches for £10 including a hand-drawn storage bag.
Which colour is your favourite? I like the yellow best. I’m very interested to discover which colours sell the most and least. I originally predicted orange would be the least popular but purple photographs really badly so that might be a factor.
I had a lot of fun with the packaging too. I was a little worried the brooches would blend into the background but the colours are just different enough.
You can pick up all the Rainbow Ghost brooches in my shop and at Etsy now.
Is it really a whole year since I last did this? I love getting sales emails from my on-demand stores and seeing which products you’re actually buying. Here’s a few favourites I would love to own too.
Sales at my Society6 store have really picked up recently, probably because I’ve been adding new patterns and promoting it more. It’s great to see newer patterns and products selling and I would happily own both these bags. I’m also a little envious of whoever is getting to snuggle under a rainbow of ghosts! You can see all the most popular products in this collection.
My popular products at Zazzle are pretty constant – postcards, wrapping paper and posters. It’s a great place for my US followers to pick up my designs without paying for international shipping. I’m glad that round Earth pillow is selling because it made me so happy to design it. There’s 50% off pillows and posters just now (and 15%-50% off everything else) with the code ZBESTSELLERZ.
A final shout out to my Pineapple stickers as I’ve now sold over 450 of them at Redbubble! I know pineapples are a trend at the moment but this is still a bit crazy. If you want to join in, there’s some great offers: buy any 4 stickers and get 25% off, or buy any 10 and get 50% off.
If any of these purchases were yours, I would love to see your photos! And if you fancy buying something yourself, keep an eye out for discounts and offers – they’re usually over weekends and holidays. Check out the full list of products to see all the fun stuff that’s available.