Hobby Heart is an online dakimakura store that, alongside a pretty wide selection of dakimakuras and bed sheets/duvet covers, also provides custom printing services. It is run by a single person by the name of Fong. In this article, I review two custom items purchased: a custom Arcueid bed sheet (used as a couch cover) and a custom Saber dakimakura.
Custom Arcueid Couch Cover
So a while back, after moving into my new apartment and getting a cheap futon couch from Target, I decided to try finding an anime themed couch cover. When I was in college, I had tried once and failed to find any interesting ones, so my roommate just covered our couch with a random table cloth she found somewhere. I quickly discovered that no one sells anime-themed couch covers (supply-demand, yada yada), so the closest I could get would be finding a bed sheet of fitting dimensions.
After much searching, I came to the conclusion that none of the currently existing bed sheets/duvet covers interested me or were appropriate as a couch cover (the majority of them were NSFW). And then I came across this blog entry about a custom Tony Taka duvet cover (NSFW). Followed the links and ended up discovering Hobby Heart’s custom bed sheet item
After much image searching and photoshopping, I finally settled on a design. Emailed Fong the design and after a few back-forth emails, it was off to get printed. Below is the final submitted design. This is actually the post-processed version that Fong sent back to me. The original version that I sent him (found here) was way too small so he applied some filter magic and blew the image’s pixel dimensions up from 1280×896 to 5669×3969. The original source image can be found here. And yes, of course, it’s Tsukihime/Melty Blood’s Arcueid Brunestud, because she’s my favourite character.
Final Arcueid bed sheet design that was sent off to the printing press (original image)
A month or so later, the package arrived. Came in the same packaging as the custom Tony Taka one from Wolfheinrich’s blog post. My old phone camera doesn’t do the sheet quality justice – the colours are a lot more vibrant and colourful than what you see below.
At 140cm x 200cm, it barely fits over my couch (I have to occasionally re-shift the cover to one side or another each time I sit on the couch), but I couldn’t be happier nor do I think I’d ever find any better couch cover ^_^Custom Saber Dakimakura
A long while later, after going through a few random blog entries here and on other sites, I was convinced to try getting a dakimakura. Before I moved in to my current apartment, I stayed a week in corporate housing with huge beds and lots of pillows. One of the pillows was a plain body pillow (I’ve never actually seen a body pillow in real life before then), and I soon discovered the soothing relaxation of hugging one while sleeping. And so I scrounged the internet once again, this time for Fate/stay night’s Saber.
Of course, almost all the Saber dakimakura I found were either extremely perverted (I’m looking for a sleep hug pillow, not a sex toy) or lacked the artistic charm of Takeuchi Takashi (the original TYPE-MOON artist/co-founder). And so once again, I opened up Photoshop and fired Fong an email. The below is the final image I sent him (this time in the dimensions specified on the site). The source images https://yande.re/post/show/194999 and http://www.zerochan.net/1277301 were heavily edited to work nicely for a dakimakura. Didn’t fit perfectly (left Saber’s legs are cut off in the original picture so I just faded it out), but was still much better than any other Saber dakimakura design I had come across (let alone the Arcueid ones – I wish there were more merchandise of her, QQ).
Came in the same packaging as my Arcueid couch cover, with roughly the same long wait. This time, however, there was no back-forth emailing as I had sent him an image in the requested pixel dimensions (1417×4252) as well as the Photoshop .psd file I was working with. Unfortunately, this probably lead to him not doing any post-processing like he did for my Arcueid cover as the end resulting printing was quite blurry and nowhere near the same line clarify as the bed sheet (despite being printed on higher quality material).
Prior to receiving the dakimakura cover, I ordered a generic body pillow insert off Amazon. When the Saber dakimakura cover arrived, I was disappointed to discover that dakimakuras apparently don’t use the standard 20×54″ body pillow inserts but instead are much longer (I didn’t notice the 50x150cm dimensions listed on HobbyHeart’s product page). Since the dakimakura was made from stretchy 2-way tricot material, the pillow insert I originally got barely filled the dakimakura cover width-wise too. To account for this, I ended up emailing custom pillow maker Reynoso Home Decor – I really liked the firm pillow insert I got for my mini Saber pillow. The store kindly put up an Amazon listing for me of the requested dimensions of 22×62″ (56x158cm) (there also happened to be a sale going on at the time for them so my total ended up being $45).
Putting the dakimakura cover over the pillow insert was quite a challenge. Since the insert dimensions are larger than the cover itself, the only way the insert could go in would be by squeezing it and cramming it into the cover. I managed to do it through a nifty trick: turn the dakimakura cover inside out, then “unpeel” it over the insert slowly, constantly tugging downward so the parts that do get covered don’t have folds. Kinda like this It took a while and lots of care but the end result looked good (no empty corners like I see in many dakimakura photos) and the dakimakura itself could be stood up straight firmly (I always found it odd seeing pictures of super flimsy dakimakura flopping or folding over like this)
With pillow insert – by now I had bought a Sony DSC-RX100 so I can actually take good quality pictures like this
Here’s a few close-up pictures of the material. While the custom dakimakuras and bed sheets from Hobby Heart are manufactured in the same factories that produce official products, the fact that the images used are user edited and lower resolution means that you won’t ever get the same level of detail.
The Arcueid couch cover was made from peach skin material. It’s the cheapest material and quite durable (good for something you’d sit on) but it’s not stretchy and has a coarse texture. The printing quality was much better than I had expected on this, and the colours were very vibrant. The image quality turned out decent since it was corrected through some Photoshop filtering techniques, though only artificially sharpened.
The Saber dakimakura cover was made from two-way tricot material. Most expensive but very stretchy and soft. Apparently a lot more durable than it looks, but I wouldn’t risk doing anything that might damage it. The printing quality was quite disappointing with generally washed out colours. Not sure if this is related to the material it’s printed on though. Apparently the resolution of the images I sent were too low, as shown with very blurry lines, noticably blurrier than the image I emailed out.
For comparison purposes, I also took close ups of the mini Saber pillow. Not entirely sure what the material is, but it’s just as stretchy as two-way tricot but nowhere near as durable overall (it actually unseamed when I was putting in the pillow insert so I had to sew it back together). The printing quality is alright but hard to judge comparatively due to the limited colour palette (for the version of the artwork that I used for side two of my custom Saber dakimakura, I actually added an orange gradient to the hair and shifted the hue a bit to better match the other side). The image quality is of course vastly superior with crisp lines, as expected of an official product.Bonus
My current collection of TYPE-MOON linen. Custom Arcueid bed sheet being used as a couch cover, custom Saber dakimakura, mini Saber pillow, C72 ALL AROUND TYPE-MOON Towel, TYPE MOON -10th Anniversary- muffler, and a few plushies. Not in the picture is Comp Ace July 2008 Appendix’s TYPE-MOON HEROINES microtowel. Soon to join the collection is the smaller Neco-Arc plushie and maybe a huge Kyuubey plushie (only because it won’t fit on my office window sill along with the other non-TYPE-MOON plushies)