I usually get my best ideas once I go to bed, and last night, with my brain overloaded with steampunk images, I came up with my own design!
Here's a couple of sketches:
So basically, I'm combining steampunk with a little bit geisha. The top will be kimono, with a back that changes into a flowing Victorian bustle. The bottom is an unbuttoned skirt, revealing lacy bloomers, garters, and over-the-knee stockings. Spats, of course! I envision the colors as burgundies and browns, stripes and patterns, brocade and linen.
Then, of course, I want canvas and brass wings - that unfold like a fan from my back. Pair this with goggles, a compass, and whatever gear-y odds and ends I can fit in!
I've already purchased this wig:
It's time to start looking for the perfect fabric!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I have a sample of this embroidered faux silk dupioni ordered. We'll see how the colors actually look in person!
It may be too "pink" or "salmon" to match my burgundy, but it does appear to have burgundy in it.... At any rate, I think it'd be outrageous with a striped corset!
I won my first steampunk prop on ebay!
It's a gorgeous tiny combination sundial and compass, that folds to fit inside a leather case. I always wanted a personal, portable sundial - but never had an excuse to buy one before!
In other news, I've been scouring the internet from top to bottom and am completely unable to find a striped fabric l like for the corset (or at least, one I like that isn't $150 a yard!). I may have to sew stripes together myself and make my own - which might very well look better, but would be a massive consumer of time.
It's always a pain to shop for the perfect fabric I've seen only in my head, rather than letting the fabric simply appear out of the blue and suggest its own idea of what it wants to be. (What? You mean you weren't *planning* to sew a 1700s pirate ball gown? Too bad, because here I am, and I'm on sale!)
I got my sample piece, and it's not burgundy at all - the flowers are shades of copper, and much lighter than they look in the above photo. I like the colors, but I'm unsure it would work at all with my burgundy scheme.
Option #1: Change my color scheme.
Option #2: Look for new fabric.
I'm going to take the swatch out to my studio and rummage through my fabric bins and see what works with it, and whether I'm going to be satisfied. I do think it would look fabulous bustled in a Victorian skirt, so maybe I'll decide to keep it....
I watched tv last night with my embroidered dupioni on my lap, stroking it during advertisements and visualizing it as steampunk. For awhile I thought I was going to fall in love, but today I came to the conclusion that I just don't love it enough. Gah. Back to square one. At least it's not totally a waste, the fabric sample is large enough to make a corset...just not for steampunk.
I found these fabrics, none of which scream "buy me!!", but I do like them, so...
This one is simply a patterned silk brocade. I did really like the idea of actual embroidery, though.
This one is embroidered, it's described as being peach flowers on a burgundy background. I also can't tell from the photo how big the flowers are!
This one has light colored embroidered flowers on a burgundy background. I like the ''trailing" effect of the vines, but the flowers themselves don't seem as pretty.
And this one is THE ONLY burgundy stripe I have been able to find that works at all. I was envisioning burgundy striped with another color, but perhaps two shades of burgundy would be as good, or even better. The size of the stripes looks about right.
Huh. I'm reluctant to order samples of all these fabrics, because I would have to buy a minimum of a yard from these sellers, and they're just pricey enough that I don't want to waste my money on fabric I probably won't use! I need to choose a favorite, and order just that one....
Or at least, I hope so.
I decided to buy the first possible fabric, the embroidered copper colored faux silk, because I just could not find anything I liked better, or even as much. I emailed the seller and asked if she had 6 yards left. She emailed back, No she didn't, but...she did have 6 yards of the same pattern of embroidered fabric in BURGUNDY, if I'd be interested in that!!!
Why yes, I am interested. Very interested, as it happens. So right now I am in negotiation about price and shipping.
Six yards of burgundy embroidered faux silk just left PA and is on its way to me as I write this. I am so frickin' excited to see what it looks like....I guess I need to start thinking of how I am going to manage a geisha bustle!
And it's perfect - JUST what I wanted.
Now I have a decision...stay with the striped corset, or use the other fabric as corset! What do you think???
It looks very pretty and very asian when the colors are overlapped.
I went looking for a good (easy) Victorian corset pattern - because, however much I like to just drape fabric on my dummy and cut my own patterns, you just *don't* do that with a corset! Ever. I'm still looking for the right corset pattern, but I stumbled across this one for a 5-gore skirt:
I actually adore this entire gown, but the skirt looks perfect for my desire - there's a side-front seam, exactly where I want to put buttons, and while I wasn't thinking of a skirt so long, I could either cut it shorter, or leave as is. I love trains on gowns....okay, I've talked myself into this pattern.
In other pattern news, I also adore these, even though they don't fit this costume. Future steampunk????
Above is a curaiss bodice with waistcoat styling.
And this one is a tail bodice - love it *almost* enough to buy the pattern, even though I'm not making it...right now. (It was in my shopping cart until I forced myself to delete it.)
Used Simplicity #4080 (kimono pattern) as the beginning base for this, but then re-cut the shape radically. I'm very please with how it looks, so next begins the cutting into the actual fabric...always a little scary! The corset in this picture is not the one I will be using; I used it only to give the top a better "finished" look. I kind of like how it looks in white, too - maybe I'll save the muslin and make a real top of it sometime...
So I haven't ironed this, or finished sewing the lining, but here's the basic kimono, sewn out of the pretty fabric! The black corset is the beginning stages of a properly-fitted corset, and the striped section on the corset is a color test of how a striped corset would look. If you look on the dummy's neck, you'll see a square of light colored "gold" fabric (without the camera flash, it's actually a pale green the same color as the stems and leaves of the fabric). I'm thinking of making the corset out of this color, for more contrast. It's a really gorgeous color, 2-toned silk dupioni in "lime/fuschia" - which I know sounds terrible, but actually matches perfectly. I've ordered a yard of fabric from my fabulous eBay silk dupioni supplier: Fabric Freak
The kimono is lined in a copper-y satin.
I bought a yard of the 2-toned silk dupioni, and have cut it out, ready to embroider. I'm thinking ribbon embroidery, with tiny real watch gears as the centers.
Not being finished in any way, it looks reeeally bad right now, but that will change soon! I also purchased a metal busk. The corset will lace in the back, and close in the front using one of these:
I've never actually sewn one of these gadgets in, so I'm somewhat apprehensive. For that matter, I've never even worn a corset with one of these!
Instead of using metal or plastic boning *made* to use in a corset, I went to my local hardware shop and bought heavy cable ties. Mine are white, because oddly enough, the black ones cost $2 more a package. How weird is that? They were exactly the same, except for color.
I've heard cable ties work just as well, and are massively cheaper. Money saved on the areas that don't show, mean I can justify spending more on the areas that do. The hardware man was quite surprised that I needed two packages of such super-duper ties! Never in a million years would he imagine what they're going to be used for! :D
I have the skirt all cut out, and ready to sew. It's burgundy taffeta, with a black taffeta lining. Me being me, I'm going to alter the pattern a bit, so fingers crossed it turns out! But then I hardly ever follow pattern directions; I just glance at how the pieces fit together and then sew it my own way.
Hard to tell from this pic, but it's going to be beautiful. *fingers crossed*
I've been twittering around with my corset today, pinning different things on it, and I've come up with a fabulous new idea for it! It's so gorgeous - I wish I could show you a picture, but it's still largely in my head. If I took a pic of what's pinned on the dummy, you'd be thinkin' I lost my mind.
It involves buttons. Lots of buttons!
Eesh. Now I have to go BUY all those buttons!!!
The kimono top is officially done - except for hemming, once I decide how long it's going to be. I ironed it finally (I hate ironing!) and tried it on. It fits! I dipped the collar in the back a little, to give it a "geisha" look. The nape of the neck is considered quite sexy in Japan. I think I'll add a little wire into that collar, to ensure that it stands properly upright. It feels so nice on...silky and slinky!
I've got the boning sewn into the corset, and I'm so happy to be done with that part. It's not really difficult, but it is tedious to sew all those channels. I'm happy to report that the cable ties are working perfectly!
And I've started to embroider the corset front. Here, have a look:
The colors turned out kind of wonky in the photo, but you can sort of get the idea.
Also, and (yay me!) I found my buttons. I went to the dollar store, and found these cool metal-look buttons with sort of...well actually, I'm not sure how to describe the pattern. They look very steampunk to me, though. I'll get pics tomorrow and post them. At the same dollar store, I also got skull and crossbones buttons (in both brass and silver colors) and these flower patterned ones. All six buttons for a dollar. I adore great deals.
These are the first choice for buttons. Even though they're flowers, they sort of look gear-ish to me.
Or these. These also look steamy!
$1 per packet of six. I'm happy!
I was dreading finishing the skirt, because I would have to do ten buttonholes. I thought I hated buttonholes, only having done one in my life before...which of course must be why I decided to make an outfit that calls for twenty-six buttonholes all together!
But heck. Buttonholes are way easy on my sewing machine. They are actually sort of fun. So here's the skirt, done except for hemming (I need to decide on shoes, still) and the one little hook and eye at the waist.
Here's a close up of the buttonhole-ness (because I still can't believe that they're done):
Yes, I went with the gear-like flowers, largely because I'm saving the wire-like buttons for "Steampunk #2". I don't have enough for both outfits, and the other one isn't "girly", so it required the more masculine buttons. I'm getting into buttons in a big way!
With the kimono top sort of pinned into place (no corset yet, so I can't really make it look right yet:
And the back of the neck. I did a geisha-type neck - the Japanese think the nape of a woman's neck is one of the sexiest parts! I think I'm going to slip a wire in the top edge of the collar, just to make it hold the shape better. And my hair's definitely going to have to be short, or pinned up.
Now I just need to finish the embroidery on the corset, and then I can start working on the bustle back.
I put off doing the embroidery on it for ages because I pretty much despised doing the style of embroidery I picked. Finally, I made myself finish it...and it's gorgeous. So gorgeous, that I may even do this type of embroidery again, once the trauma of doing this one wears off. I timed the second half, it took four hours. So eight hours to embroider the entire thing. Not so bad.
BUT...the nerve-wracking thing about this corset, was that it was a new pattern. Which meant I wasn't *entirely* sure it was going to fit me right. I can't try it properly on, you see, until I put in the grommets and can lace it up, and I can't put the grommets in until I've done the embroidery. So basically, some people sky-dive as their risky behavior...I do corsetry without a safety net! (As I'm way too lazy to put grommets in the muslin). If it didn't fit, there's eight hours of tedious embroidery and one yard of dupioni silk wasted.
Today I was finally able to try it on, and it fits! Yes! Huge relief. So here's pics. Bear in mind that the front of corset will be steampunk'd up with my new secret design, and the bustle back is not done at all. I've just wadded up some fabric and pinned it for a sort of general idea.
I may add a bit more trim to the button front, but otherwise, it's done at last!
And there's a long thin hidden pocket, just right for slipping a fan or stiletto out of sight until needed... Below, I have the top of a fan sticking out.
Now that the corset's sorted, the problem becomes one of footwear. I was going to go with victorian-style button-up boots, but now I'm thinking I'm going to stay with the Japanese theme, and wear traditional Geta.
With those cute little toe socks, of course! (And, bonus, I'll re-use the geta later on, too, when I make my Geisha costume.)
But...one has to make one's geta steampunk, so I think I'm going to add spats, somewhat like these:
I'm not entirely sure how to work that out, but it seems cool and very original in my head. I know I've done a zillion different versions of "geta-steampunk" google searches, and haven't found a thing. So,yeah. Something to think about!
I made a pair of lovely white bloomers for my "Faerie" costume with the idea they will also work for this one.
I love white with cream trim - so pretty!
Designed a lovely new "travel style" bustle - one that folds for easy packing.
It has a black duck fabric backing, with ribbons sewn together for the boning channels. For boning, I used round basket maker's doweling. Not sure how well that will hold up for repeated wear, but I like the idea of the natural materials, and it *seems* pretty solid. I have to really work at it to snap one of the dowels - since it's made for basket-weaving, it's very flexible - and it seems to hold its place well. I sewed smaller ribbons to link them and hold them in the proper position.
See how nicely it folds?
Then, I finished sewing lace on, for that pretty look.
I'm well pleased with it. If the wood boning proves to be too weak, I'll figure out something else, but use this same design!
One spat is done.
Shown with my tabi socks and geta-style wooden flip-flops. The shoes will be sanded down (too pretty in pink!) and repainted in colors to match my outfit. But hey, the whole English spats with Japanese footwear is looking good, I think!
The back lacing is largely for show; there is a hidden zipper underneath the button panel.
I still need to finish one spat, make a white lace collar (I think it will button up with the same little black buttons as the spats), and paint the shoes. And iron. Lots of ironing needs to be done!
Inside the skirt is a built-in white petticoat. (Bonnie, this is where your steampunk skirt went!)
I'm doing a major push to get this one finished - SOON. I'll be very glad to have all the bits and bobs remaining done. Basically, I have to:
1) Sew trim along the hem of the skirt
2) Make a collar and a new ruffled jabot. The jabot in the pictures wasn't made for this, and when it's on me, it's a tad too short. I want it to actually tuck into the top of the corset.
3) Finish painting the geta shoes. Done, almost. I need to paint the sealer on them, and cover the pink straps with something that matches the dress.
4) Make a thigh (or possibly an arm) holster for these plastic ninja knives I bought.
5) Paint the ninja knives so they don't look plastic.
6) Make a secret pocket to hold my cell phone, camera, ID, and money.
7) Make my hair.
That last one is what I'm working on now. I bought a cheap black bob wig as the base. Then I made a half circle frame out of half a foam wreath base sandwiched between layers of foam board, wrapped in wire. Over this, I wrapped fake hair, bought by the hank on ebay.
I left the ends of the hair hanks dangling long. I'm probably going to do something with these ends...I don't know what. Six wooden chopsticks (painted red and topped with dangly bits) later, I have the beginning of my headdress/hair. The flowers are not going to be that color; they were just the closest flowers I had to hand. The back needs lots more hair and decoration. I'm still working on that!
The resulting hair will be sort of Japanese, sort of Chinese, sort of fantasy-Asian, which works, I think, for steampunk. I just want it to look cool, not particularly historical-correct. :)
Due partly to the fact that I'm now planning a Chinese Steampunk outfit, I've decided to change the Geisha Steampunk's hair to something a little more traditionally Japanese. Just a *little* more traditional, though! :D
Also I bought this awesome cockade from Clytemnestra's Closet, and it didn't look well with the previous hair idea. So here's the new pics:
The dangles are gold bead caps, strung together on chain, then fastened onto a pair of chopsticks.
I'm pretty pleased with the overall look!
Woot! Five more days until Steamcon, and then I'll have me-wearing-it pictures to share!
This was my most people-popular costume EVER. Wow. So many wonderful comments, and I couldn't walk 5 feet down the hallway w/o being stopped for pictures! One guy was so cute: he complimented me on it, saying it was a "perfect mixture of Japanese and Victorian". I asked if he'd noticed the spats, and when I lifted my skirt a little to show him, he squealed in delight just like a little girl! Heehee.
Here I'm lifting my skirt REALLY high to show off my little steampunk revolver in its thigh holster....
The above picture is from this blog.
One thing I'm ticked off at myself for - I completely forgot to wear the little "gold bell" hair sticks I made! I packed them in a different place from my other jewelry so they wouldn't get tangled up, and then forgot to put them on! I didn't remember until the end of the day, when I was taking the outfit off....
But the travel bustle held up perfectly - two days of wear at the con, and I wore it home folded up under my saloon girl skirt in the car - and it's still in perfect shape. I'm so pleased!