Brung Low

I have had the blerg. That is, the the-kids-have-been-back-at-school-just-long-enough-to-incubate-new-strains-of-plague annual fall cold. Blerg.

On the up-side, I have an excuse to do nothing but hunker down, drink tea, and catch up on some of the blog-reading I’ve missed over the last three weeks. And think about my fantasy sewing in a bit more focused way. On the minus side, I haven’t been coherent enough to do anything useful, never mind anything fun.

The kids have decided, and we (most especially Osiris) have agreed, to being a Steampunk family for Hallowe’en. I’m all kinds of conflicted over this.

I really sort of loathe Hallowe’en costumes. I mean, I love a really cool costume. love love love. But. There are few things I hate more than making something that will only be worn once. If we could have Steampunk Club every week, I’d be all over the costuming. But for once a year? Erk. On the other hand, the idea of shelling out money (of which we have very little right now) for the godawful atrocities that pass for storebought costumes fills me with shame and horror.

So, sewing costumes it is. /sigh.

Osiris will be easy. In fact, all he really needs is some goggles (please nominate your favourite goggle tutorial 😉 ) and maybe some other accessories—everything else he pretty much already has, although if I were motivated to finish his frock coat I’m sure he’d happily wear that.

ZOMG I bought a brand-new pattern.

I’m less clear for myself, although I did pick up this Simplicity pattern at the $2 sale last weekend. I love the coat, although my deep suspicion of costume patterns makes me assume that it will be poorly-drafted and lacking sufficient internal structure to look right. I should probably at least read some reviews before I come to that conclusion, though. There was another pattern with a bustled overskirt thing that I also like, but it was featured in the Fabricland flyer and so long sold out by the time I got there. /sigh. Of course it’s the sort of thing I can figure out on my own, but for two dollars, not having to make it up might’ve been worth it. And I have (or rather my mother has) a perfect hat already.) Although my make-life-harder reflex is yammering something about “Steampunk Seamstress” that involves an antique-sewing-machine-looking-backpack…

Sketchies—Tyo’s costume.

Which brings us to the kids. We spent some time sketching on the weekend, although this was a bit frustrating since every time one girl came up with a good idea the other decided she wanted it, too—but they don’t at all want the same costume. >_<

Anyway, Tyo seems to have settled on some high-waisted shorts (over stripey stockings and the boots that started this whole thing) with braces, a corset/bodice thing, and a jacket with short coat-tails. After some wibbling and sorting through my patterns, I decided to try drafting the shorts based on Pepin’s instructions from Modern Pattern Design (1942). I drafted it on Inkscape, which isn’t perfect but is decent for computer drafting. This wasn’t too hard, at least when tackled in twenty-minute stretches as I zoned in and out of blergishness (this was one of those colds where it’s too uncomfortable to sleep, or really do much of anything, for very long), but I have yet to print the pattern and try drafting it, so I won’t declare any kind of victory yet. I have a feeling the hip curve is going to be off and the rear-dart-shaping is going to require work (and probably a swayback adjustment). On the other hand, they have the longer-back/shorter front crotch length like the Burda pants-draft, which seems to be a generally good feature.

Syo is all about the lacing. She wants lacing on her shorts (not high-waisted, though, preferably leather) and lace-up arm covers. This doesn’t strike me as overly Steampunk, but I imagine we can manage. She wants a corset but she’s not going to get one. Maybe a corset-seamed bodice. I’m hoping I can talk her into a cute little vest. They both want tiny top-hats… we’ll see.

Of course, with Steampunk a lot comes down to the accessories. Vaguely Victorian clothing, I can come up with fairly easily (although the number of individual pieces is slightly terrifying at the moment, considering I’ve scarcely stitched in a month). Accessories will require more work. Obviously, some googling is in order. Or, y’know, if any of you care to share your favourite steampunk costume or accessory or tutorial, I’d love to check them out! 😉

Also, it appears there will be corsets. (or things having a generally corset-like appearance) For Tyo certainly, and quite possibly for me. I have plenty of patterns, although not in Tyo’s size. Which brings on the debate—grade or draft? I’ve never made a corset before, but having read obsessively about them for several years I’m reasonably comfortable with the basic ideas, at least for costume purposes. But I’m pretty sure that the patterns I have, which are all Misses-size, are not going to be anything like the right proportions, even if I graded down to her size (which is about a Misses’ size 4). Decisions, decisions.

Obviously I need to sign myself up for Peter’s Hallowe’en Sewalong, stat.



Filed under Sewing

34 responses to “Brung Low

  1. goggle tutes:

    Basically you take a ring of metal with a lip (think canning jar lid), add a piece of leather cut in a swoop to fit to your face, connect them in the middle with more leather (nose bit), add a strap and glue in some plexiglass/plastic for the lenses.

    I’m thinking this could be a fun project. I should totally get off my beading/crochet/gardening/mom’ing butt and make some. 🙂

    Rhiannon has decided to be a robot and Jake is going to be a creeper (from Minecraft) However, me and G both thought it would have been funnier if was this type of creeper –>

  2. Oh no the dreaded blerg. We’re just coming out of the spring version and I know exactly how you feel, poor things.

    Making stuff that will only be worn once is a bugger – will the girls use elements of theirs’ as dress-ups or for daily wear etc potentially? They’re both damn stylie dressers, like their ma …. I also bet there are ‘quick’ pseudo corset tutorials/patterns on the internet, using heavy weight lycra fabric and faux laces that could be very effective for relatively little effort and brain power.

    PS for some reason I am seeing a McDonald’s ad at the bottom of your post! I’ve never seen ads here before so wonder if wordpress is doing something new to us bloggers, unless you are a golden arches friend, of course. I bet there is a ‘no ad widget’ on your widget page which needs toggling …

    • I don’t know… athough shorts season is at an end, hereabouts. Their history of re-using costume elements is pretty abysmal. 😦

      That’s weird about the ad—I certainly don’t see anything. Hmm. Will go and check through my settings…

  3. Jay has lots of steampunk tutorials. Really pretty, sometimes some elaborate steps though. Here’s one for goggles:

  4. The worst part of teaching is that initial adjustment back into waking up early and talking all day, is all done under the shadow of the blerg. And I’m totally stealing your name for it.

    I’ve got a lot of stuff under my steampunk tag, as I’m sure you know, but here are the lab goggles turned steampunk:
    And a really easy (but time-intensive, but also little brain power required) way to transform a cheap plastic gun (I did this with a dollar store water gun) into a steampunky one:

    Hope that helps!

  5. Threadbanger has a number of collaborative steampunk tutorials on youtube, although they’re usually geared more towards people with beginning sewing/costuming skills.

  6. Shams

    Feel better! A family-themed costume sounds like so much fun! Maybe some of the elements can be re-used.

  7. De-lurking! I think I wound up here because someone pointed me to this post.

    But anyway, just wanted to say that I’ve made the jacket from Simplicity 2172 (sans arms) and quite liked it. (Mannequin pic here – unfortunately I didn’t take photos of me wearing it.) It works best over a corset (as shown on the envelope), but it’s not strictly necessary. The drafting is actually pretty good – the pockets are nicely done, and there’s facing for the under-bust bit (though not the bottom hem, which you might want to do for some fabrics). It came together pretty easily.

    For quick-and-dirty pseudo corsets, you can do a lot with a self-drafted pattern and heavy-duty cable ties for boning (like this). I’ve lost the link for the tutorial I used to make up the pattern, but there are plenty of similar tutorials on the internet. Under-bust corsets tend to be much easier to fit. I’ve never found busks to be worth it for one-off costume pieces – use more lacing, hooks and eyes, or no front opening but you could add decorative buttons and stuff.

    Good luck costuming!

  8. I’ve also had the dreaded (end of) summer cold. Sucks.
    Looking forward to seeing these finished. I agree that the kids will likely wear elements of the costumes again.

  9. I hope you’ll feel better soon!
    This website: has loads of tutorials. Most are intended for goth attire but many could easily be adapted for Steampunk and there are several good-yet-simple drafting instructions for different kinds of corsets. The downsite? It’s in German…

    There is also a free corset pattern on Burdastyle: but I guess you already have plenty of corset patterns in ladies’ sizes.
    Burdastyle’s free member-uploaded patterns are worth a bit of a browse anyway. There are corsets and skirts out there, as well as hats. I thought this easy-to-adapt top-hat pattern might be useful to you:
    … and I would have sworn there was an aviator cap pattern there as well, but I couldn’t find it (neither on Burdastyle, nor on my own computer where I thought I had downloaded it ages ago)

  10. for accessorizes – try gears, watches and extraneous buckles. a gear necklace – a piece of strapping with several buckles as a bracelet, old watch faces sewn onto stuff — super quick ways to make regular garments Also try for some closures and whatnot.

  11. Can I just say that I am all sorts of jealous of your sketching ability! I can’t draw worth anything. My sister asked me to sketch a pic of a shirt I was trying to describe to her that I was going to make… it wasn’t pretty. Good luck with your costumes.

  12. Ugh! I hate the blerg, and I suspect my son is catching it, which means it will make its annual trek through the whole family. Hope you feel better soon! As a suggestion, you might try your local thrift stores for pre-made parts of the costumes, to help cut down on the once-and-done type sewing. I could easily see hacking into a men/boy’s vest or putting eyelets in a thrifted skirt for the lacings or adding some suspender straps to a pair of thrifted shorts, etc. Also, there’s a New Look junior’s pattern that has a corset look top it’s 6480, if that helps.

    • Yeah, we have been going down like dominoes—it’d be funny if I weren’t actually sick.

      Damn, wish I’d known to look for that New Look pattern during the sale last week… >_<

  13. I can barely work up the oomph to do regular sewing, never mind costume sewing, and ESPECIALLY doing costume sewing with the Blerg. Cute ideas though. Good luck with all of that (I think you’re going to need it).

  14. How fun! I love costumes, although I have never sewn one for myself.
    Feel better! My colleague who has kids has the blerg too and I’m carefully avoiding meetings with him. LOL

  15. LOL i was researching corsets and corset making intensely a couple of months ago because i have a steampunk wedding to attend next september! i hear you on the intense dislike of making costumes to be worn once… why aren’t there more costume parties? once a month would be perfect for me! hope you feel better soon 🙂

  16. LinB

    A tight vest, laced together instead of buttoned, is often featured on pirate costumes for women, in the Big 4 books. Cut the vest low in front, fling a row of grommets down each side, and lace away. Good as a corset for limited wear, when all you want is the effect. You can even alter a thrifted vest instead of starting from scratch — cut to the curve you want, then bind the neck edge with bias strips. If you want to go full-on, “real” corset, I’ve had good luck cutting strips of milk carton plastic, and using them (doubled or tripled) as boning, for a limited use costume. It launders okay for future dress-up box usage, after the big event is over.

  17. Having just spent Saturday at a steampunk convention and ball, I saw one or two outfits that featured cutaway jackets like this one and they were amazing! Of course, not sure what pattern (if any) they were drafted from so that’s not much help really is it!

    Also, amazed at your sketching ability. You can really draw – wow! I am a lot jealous. And the outfit is great, makes me want a corset and suspender shorts!

  18. Pingback: Very Little Hats | Tanit-Isis Sews

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