Tag Archives: Steampunk

Hallowe’en 2017: Interview with the Steampunker

I didn’t really mean to do intense Hallowe’en costuming this year—frankly I was more excited about decorating the house (which we ended up not even doing!)

But my kids had other ideas. Fortunately for me, they’re also old enough to contribute to the process pretty significantly.

We’ll start with Syo, because that’s who got her shit together and started sewing first. She wanted to be steampunk again. Wow, clicking that link was a flashback! Actually she wanted to be a vampire, but a classy one, with glue-in fangs. She even got the fangs, except that they don’t really work with braces. So, steampunk. But every choice she made it seemed like she really would’ve rather gone vampire. After some debate she settled on wearing my red Angel Underbust corset and making a coat, skirt, and blouse.

Repeat patterns help a lot for speeding up Hallowe’en sewing. For the coat, we settled on McCall’s M6800, which I made ages ago in camo denim and lace.

I won’t lie, making this coat hurt. Not because of construction or kid-wrangling issues, but because it used up not one, not two, but three fairly “precious” fabrics in stash. Most particularly a stretch denim with flocked velvet medallion pattern that I only got two mètres of, years ago, around when Cindy of Cation Designs made a pair of pants from similar fabric. I’ve been planning to copy her shamelessly ever since.

but now I won’t be. Since 2m is not enough fabric for this pattern, we had to continue stash diving to find something compatible. Settled on a nice, beefy bottom weight cotton stretch sateen. Not as precious as the flocked denim but still a nice basic I’d hoped to turn into something practical for ME. For lining, we used the last of my precious red Kasha, (what did I say about vampire wannabe-ism?) which would hopefully make the whole thing a little more Hallowe’en-friendly (Hallowe’en here is either on the cusp of winter or in full on winter so making costumes warm is a priority).

I’m telling myself it’s ok because she loves the resulting coat and will probably wear it for lots of other things, but mostly I’m only ok with it because we’re actually the same size these days other than height so all I need to do is make some detachable cuffs from the scraps and then I could wear it.

Syo did most of the cutting out and basically all of the sewing on the shell. I directed and sewed the lining and hems. And the main hem is the main thing that we probably should redo, because I hemmed the two layers together and I shouldn’t have, but we were on a tight time schedule. So it doesn’t hang as nicely as it should. I made the buttonholes but she selected and sewed on the buttons.

The skirt(s) and blouse were much simpler and quicker. I drafted the skirt as a high-low half-circle on some black stretch velvet. And by drafted I mean, took a measuring tape and some chalk and and drew lines right on the fabric. I made a bunch of ruffle with some still-kinda-precious-to-me stretch mesh, and added various gathered bits until it started to look ok. There’s an underskirt of red mesh made much the same way, too. It was harder to let Syo help with this part, since I was flying by the seat of my pants. But it also didn’t take too long.

The blouse was both last and least. The pattern is just a peasant blouse from the late 70s, not unlike the first pattern I ever sewed. 😂 the only alteration was to shorten the sleeves a bit, though I suspect she would’ve preferred a more plunging neckline. The fabric was a remnant of black rayon twill that, again, was way too nice for a Hallowe’en costume. At least it wasn’t expensive. But rayon twill might be my new favourite fabric.

Guys, I love this costume. Like I wish it were for me grade of love. None of the snapshots really do it justice—it deserves a proper photo shoot. Someday. 😂

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Underbuster Parfait

Last summer at the local Fringe Festival, i bought a costume piece from a local leatherworker (Of The Gods’ Blood Armory, fyi)—a steampunk-y (or maybe that’s dieselpunk?) faux gas mask. It was an impulse purchase, completely unjustifiable by any measure except that I was supporting a local artisan, and I love it to bits.

But it obviously needed an outfit. I have a few bits of army surplus gear from here and there, but nothing at all cohesive, and the army-greenish colour is not part of my usual palette. A corset was an obvious pairing, but I didn’t have any fabric that immediately spoke to me.

Except that I did. Whilst digging through the stash looking for something to complement the sweaterknit for my dad’s cardigan, I stumbled on this textured faux-suede that I acquired when a co-worker was de-stashing. It’s olive green, although that particular variety of olive green that looks mostly brown under fluorescent light.

The pattern is a further tweaking of Butterick 4254, underbustified, but at this point I couldn’t tell you anything else about what changes I made. Except that I felt like I had finally wrapped my head around a construction order that let me fit as I went, with the result that this is the comfiest corset I’ve ever made. It’s a bit big, in that I can lace it completely closed, but the shape is just right. (I was aware that it was coming out big and left it that way as it’s an “outer” corset and I wasn’t sure how much bulk I might add with garments underneath it. Anyway, I wouldn’t want it any tighter than it is when laced closed…

First off, this is NOT the sturdiest method of making a corset. It’s the same one I’ve used for all my corsets, and I havne’t burst a seam yet, but I’m also not wearing any of them for days on end. Five or six hours at a span, rarely more than once a month, and I’m not going for more than an inch or two of reduction.

anime-070It’s the method described in “The Basics of Corset Bulding” by Linda Sparks (mainly used because that’s the book I have. 😉 for making an alterable corset. You construct the front piece with the busk and the back pieces with the grommets, first. Then the other pieces are sewn together, and the seam allowances stitched open to make bone casings. But this time, I put in the bones around the grommets in the back, and then tweaked the fit—finalized some seams and added bones, and tweaked a little more—and so on until everything was just right.  This let me get the fit I like, the shape I like, AND end up with a super comfy corset, so I’m pretty stoked.

anime-162For fun, I added small sections of cording in the front. I think a bigger or firmer cord would’ve been a good idea, but they were fun.

And then I completely failed to take blog-worthy photos for almost a year. Sorry?

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Walking with Wendy Marvel and Terry Bogard.

Well,it finally got an outing at the local comics expo this fall, and I managed to wrangle my sister-in-law into taking photos beforehand, so meet my  vaguely-airship-pirate outfit! (It’d be really nice if I could manage to blog the girls’ outfits, too, but we’ll see how I do. Oh, and the pants I’m wearing, which are Vogue 9210. They’re fun. And hard to photograph.)

anime-084My sister-in-law shot us amidst gorgeous autumn leaves, which are lovely and natural and not really suited to an outfit that demands wrought iron and gaslight, but I wasn’t willing to go further than the next-door park on that particular morning, so I’ll take it.

anime-73That’s the same white pintucked (not made by me) blouse I wore last year, come to think of it.

anime-138The camo coat wasn’t actually the best topper for the outfit—it kinda swamped the corset & hip decor, though it looked cool from certain angles. I have enough of the  faux suede left to make a matching jacket; I’m thinking something cropped and faux-military would be fun. Maybe in another year?

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Hallowe’en Roundup

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Actual Hallowe’en photo

Okay, why is it so hard to get good Hallowe’en photos? every year I vow that I will, and every year I end up with a couple of fuzzy shots of kids running away to the next house while trick-or-treating. >_<

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The best actual Hallowe’en picture.

Anyway, I’d say the Steampunk costumes were a success, at least as costumes. As costumes for Hallowe’en in Saskatchewan… not so much. I think the last several years in balmy southern Alberta kind of messed with my head in the Hallowe’en-costume-planning department. Note To Tanit: Saskatchewan Hallowe’en costumes should be: showing NO skin, ideally can cover a snow suit. Scarves are a bonus.

It took me the better part of a month to work up the energy to wrangle the girls back into costume (and makeup), and at this point I’m really too tired of all of it to do much introspection. Which is too bad, because there’s probably a fair bit left to say, if only about the jackets.

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Yes, so late the Christmas tree is already up.
(Note—I didn’t put the tree up.)

OK, I know you pretty much saw that one already. Anyway, prepare for pretty much a photo essay, with minimal commentary.

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Tyo, giving me crap for taking the photos so late.

Pocket watches were an important elements of the costumes.

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A long-awaited closeup of Syo’s hat

I must confess, I think Syo’s hat with the painted holly berries actually crosses the seasons nicely.

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Syo’s pocketwatch. All pocketwatches courtesy of my mother. (Without whom these costumes really wouldn’t have happened, I think.)

The tailcoats were adapted from the much-maligned McCall’s 5312.  Originally Syo didn’t want one, but it turned out the size 10 was too small for Tyo, and Syo consented to wear it (thankfully, as she would’ve been even colder than she was already without it). She’s been wearing it at least weekly since, so I think that’s a win.

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Tailcoat and monocle.

Syo requested an internal pocket for her pocketwatch. Tyo didn’t, but I should’ve included one anyway. Oops.

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Internal pocketwatch pocket.

Syo’s monocle actually turned out really cool (and had an actual magnifying lens, too). It’s made from an old earring and some kind of jeweller’s loupe. Unfortunately it spent the entire actual Hallowe’en tucked in a pocket with the pocketwatch.

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Syo with monocle

I had a lot of fun painting the jackets with black, brown, and silver. Why? Well, mostly because. Also, it was fun. I lined the jackets with this fun printed quilted lining fabric I picked up at Value Village on a whim sometime last spring—it was one of those things I really wasn’t sure I should ever have bought, since it’s right on the border between awesome (a cool print) and horrible (quilted lining is one of those things I generally loathe). However, it really came into its own here, I think—giving body to the  wimpy suiting fabric I was using for the shells, and adding much-needed warmth. Seriously, I can’t believe how long my kids wore these outside. It was -7C, -14C with the wind chill, and we were out for almost three hours, with only a couple of warm-up stops.

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Jackets. Also, I want to eat your brains. But your hat first.

My mom offloaded generously gave us a bag of old stenciling supplies a week or two before Hallowe’en, including a lovely, delicate rose stencil. I couldn’t resist adding it to the coats in a couple of places. I just used the same acrylic paint I used on the rest of the coats. I don’t particularly expect a lot from this down the road, but it served the purpose at the time.

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Painted jacket: ruffle trim and stenciled rose.

I think that’s about enough. I added length to the sleeves of the coats, and the tails, of course. I think I didn’t get the button positioning quite right, as the lapels (which I interfaced) rolled nicely but sat better before I put the buttons on.

And now, on to more recent things. I have a backlog building up, as those (few) of you following on twitter or instagram probably know already…

Of course, none of it’s been for me. *pout*

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Very Little Hats

The workshop

This past weekend, the kids and I trooped over to my mother’s and made hats.

For the Hallowe’en costumes. You remember.

Little, teeny, steampunky tophats.

Little hat

I used this pattern as the starting point, and then kind of hung a left. It turned out it called for all kinds of esoteric stuff like fusible fleece and craft foam. OK, I did have craft foam, and I actually was looking at the fusible fleece in Fabricland the other day and then decided not to buy any (on account of not having looked up the pattern yet so I didn’t know they were going to call for fusible fleece). And the craft foam I picked up at the dollar store was stupid thin and nearly useless. So we mostly used Bristol board and, well, it’s not exactly sew-able. And I kind of forgot to trim off most of the seam allowances, so our hats ended up a little larger than otherwise. And they probably took longer to make, since I was hand-covering and hand-stitching all the fabric that holds them together. And then sewing on trims and feathers and bits and bobs, and then painting. Actually, there were several iterations of sewing/painting/sewing/painting. I thank my ever-generous mother for her contributions to the trim, and for willingly sacrificing artifical flowers and berries that are probably older than I am to The Muse. I quite enjoyed the painting (it’s been ages since I dry-brushed anything), though of course as soon as we were doing it I wished I had five other colours.

Closeup

All I need to do now is sew on the clips which will (in theory) attach them to the hair of various children come Hallowe’en. Oh, and keep the damn things from getting shredded between now and then.

(Oh, and yes, there are two hats, but I only remembered to photograph one while at my mom’s.

Next up… goggles!

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