Today, I’d like to show off two of my Steampunk outfits. But first, let me introduce you to my alternate personality. Please meet Lady Beatrix Kittywick McCormick.“Salutations! Pleased to make your acquaintance. I’m married to Lord McCormick, the captain of our time travel airship, Uhr Drache (which is German for Clock Dragon.) My lovely 17 year old daughter, Juliette Bellafoxe, is Uhr Drache’s close friend and mechanic. My 13 year old son, Avery, is our First Mate, martial arts specialist, and bodyguard.
My family and I travel through time and dimensions finding many grand adventures along the way. We’re quite fond of the Archipelago of Dreams. An alternate universe where we meet up with close friends. Many are quite famous in this world, though you may think they’re only literary figures.
My profession is that of a Cache Curator. In this century I might be called a Treasure Banker. I specialize in the clandestine management of monies, jewels, sundry treasures, and documents for discerning clientele. Every Era….Every Continent. My patrons include esteemed Ladies, Gentlemen, Royalty, and Rogues. For references, please contact Queen Elizabeth I, Captain Nemo, Julius Caesar, Dr. Alexander Hartdegen, or Genghis Khan.
I anticipate meeting you again in the future…or in the past.”Thank you Lady McCormick. Now on to “the rest of the story”….I first attended an anime convention with my daughter several years ago and discovered there was a whole genre called Steampunk that encompassed my long standing passion for all things Victorian AND Sci Fi! (Anime is Japanese cartoons and Manga is Japanese comic books that the anime is usually based on.) At these conventions, people dress up and compete in costume contests, watch anime, shop, attend workshops, make friends, take tons of pictures, dance, & play video games all weekend. Its actually a lot of fun.
A few of the costumes are pretty amateurish, but many of them are quite detailed and exquisite pieces of art. I’ve made costumes for Miss H, but never dressed up myself. There aren’t really any middle age chubby characters in anime. But, its perfectly acceptable to dress in Steampunk. Its perfect for me. A fantasy genre where age and weight don’t matter, fashion rules are virtually non existent, all things Victorian are embraced, original characters with their own back stories are encouraged, and imagination take flight. I describe Steampunk as Victorian fashion, ideals, and “rose colored glasses” romance colliding with technologically advanced science using steam power, time travel, cybernetics, and the like.
Having said all that, I’ll describe the first two outfits I made for myself. The first is a formal “dinner” outfit. The bodice and bustle are made from a crinkled, dark purple, rayon/polyester blend fabric I found in the clearance section. The pattern for the bodice is Simplicity 2354. This is a plus sized Colonial style dress pattern. The bodice on dress C was perfect for what I wanted.I made this the day I wore it and didn’t get a chance to fit it correctly. I’ll go back and fix it soon.The neckline is trimmed with a folded over piece of skirt fabric.I used the selvage edge from the skirt fabric as a sleeve ruffle. I loved the fringe.The accessories for this outfit include a chatelaine, vintage brass and mother of pearl opera glasses, goggles, watches, keys, and various jewelry. All of which I’ve owned for years (except the goggles…see below).
I had previously made two fascinators with gorgeous roses and feathers for our last con.The smaller one was for my hair.The larger one went on the bustle.I used a long rectangle of the purple fabric for the bustle. The raw edges were hemmed and the top corners were attached to the front of the bodice. The back was pulled up randomly and pinned. I’ll stitch it before wearing this piece again.I didn’t manage to get a picture of the bustle while I was wearing it, so Miss H modeled it for me.The skirt is a classic 6 gore walking skirt. I drafted my own pattern using the instructions I found here.The fabric for the skirt is a ruched taffeta. I love the copper brown color as it changes in the light. I only had enough fabric for 5 of the 6 gores, but fortunately it was a 54″ fabric so I pieced the last gore together. I wanted a skirt that I could use with several outfits. I plan to add 18 buttons to the bottom of the skirt all the way around, about 5″ up from the hem. When I wear the purple bodice I’ll attach a purple knife pleated ruffle. When I wear the traveling outfit, I’ll add keys and small clocks to the buttons instead.
Now for the traveling outfit. I started with this hat which I’ve had a very long time.Since this is a travel outfit, I move through time in an airship, and goggles are a Steampunk icon, I had to have some. I didn’t have time to order any…and I’m too cheap to order any, so I made my own.I have an extensive
junk stash craft supply where I found the lids to some small tins. I used those for the eye pieces and added faux leather, scrapbooking grommets, and black embroidery thread.I used elastic in the back of the strap to hold it securely to my hat or my face, but added grommets to lace black embroidery thread into to make it look “authentic”.The next project was my map key. The map key projects a detailed map to nearby treasure when the bottom of the staff is placed a special key hole.The staff is an old weathered flag pole I had outside the house for many years. I antiqued it with burnt sienna, black, dark green, and metallic gold paint before sealing it and adding a very fine gold glitter. The top of the staff is a vintage glass Boopie candleholder. I inverted it and painted the insides metallic gold.The glass jewel on top came from the craft store. It was slightly loose so I glued 3 layers of bubble wrap to it and glued the whole thing inside the candleholder.The candle part of it fits snugly to the top of the staff, but I added glue there too…just in case. That jeweled top piece could be a formidable weapon if it flew off the handle.
I use basically the same jewelry and accessories from the purple formal with the traveling outfit. Everything else was something I already owned. The blouse is a cream poly with dark brown embroidery along the collar and down the front. The vest is a brown and dark gray cotton brocade. The coat is a lightweight cream colored embroidered cotton. My shoes are everyday brown walking boots. I also made a petticoat out of an old thriftstore sheet and added a tulle petticoat piece salvaged from an old wedding dress crinoline. I used the same sheet to make pantiloons too. I also added a cotton skirt from the thriftstore as a second petticoat.I love these outfits. I have so much fun wearing them! I’ll be doing a little refining here and there, but for the most part they’re done. Look for pics of the purple knife pleated ruffle in a future post.