Posts tagged Steampunk
by Ryn Cording
I shouldn’t be allowed near the internet when I have a big project or event in the near future. In fact,
I shouldn’t be allowed to have dream cycles either. Under these conditions (not to mention watching
movies, reading or viewing artwork) I am struck by the lightning bolts of inspiration from the costuming
gods. I will find an image or a shape that strikes me in such a way that I must, MUST create this
inspirational piece. In this case, I will for once, give credit to a social media site. Thanks to Pinterest,
it is very easy to find inspiration and research subgenres. I was in need of a steampunk outfit and was
provided with exhibits A and exhibit B:
Both of these corsets have a lot to offer. Exhibit A is almost too much; with so much detail and the
prolific use of leather, it feels heavy, like thick chocolate syrup. The other is simpler in its design and
execution. The lace trim and the chain detailing does not have the same “bulk” as Exhibit A. One can see
why I immediately fell in love with both.
But then dropped the blockade of reality; I only needed one corset and was limited both in budget
and time. After days of agonizing over which corset I would attempt to create, I finally had my bolt of
inspiration — one corset with my favorite elements from both images.
I am very familiar with the corset shape and pattern, having designed and built several in varying styles
and eras. I did not have to make a ton of adjustments to the original pattern. Familiarity with the shape
of the piece or an existing pattern definitely helps with transferring from inspiration to reality. In some
cases, I sketch out rough designs of the finished product. In others, I leave it all in my brain and hope it
works. For this piece, the latter worked.
My first attempt was with black chap-weight leather I had on hand. I had thought to use only materials
that were already in my stores. Suffice to say, my sewing machine, Sven, after several exchanges of foul
words, decided to go on strike. Conceding to my long-suffering companion and with a growing sense of
failure, I took a trip to JoAnn’s in which I found this:
It was PERFECT. After nearly 40 minutes in line to have my 1 yard cut, I arrived at home with renewed
motivation. With PSY belting in the background, I re-cut my pieces, salvaging what I could from the
original attempt and in about 2 hours, had the rough corset. After fighting with it for another hour or
so (I shrank and my standard corset pattern is now too big) and adding boning channels, I had this baby
ready for detail work. Exhibit A appears to have the lacing on the side front on the panel immediately
adjacent to the front busk panel. Because of this, I used a five panel corset designating the side front
panel as my peek panel. The panel originally had four layers: the top shell, the inner gauze backed with
white cotton to purify the color and the base, black, cotton coutil. I made a cut down the center of this
piece with the corset on a dress form. I trimmed the center edges, rolled them under and pinned loop
tape under the edge. I stitched the tape down through all layers, added lace and black braided trim to
cover the seams and add more interest. Finally, I laced ribbon through the eyelets.
For the top edge, I used more of the Exhibit B approach: lace along the upper edge with three loops
sewn onto the front, side and rear panels. This would allow me to attach the chain later on. I secured
the top edges with bias tape.
For the bottom edge, I again, found myself drawn to Exhibit A, with fur trim. I found a brown feather
trim that I used in addition to gunmetal taffeta that I formed into pleats for the bottom edge.
Once the bottom edge was finished, I added the copper chain found at Michael’s and my bottles of
glitter. Here is the first mock up and the finished piece:
I have dubbed the style the “Tesla” corset. Now the only thing I have left to do is get the lighty-uppy bit
right… but that’s another blog post.
Here is another version of the “Tesla” corset just completed this week:
by, Erin Schneider
You might have noticed us advertising lately for a little event we call “A Steampunk Christmas Carol, Fezziwig’s Party.” The whole point of hosting a costumed event is to give our fellow costumers a venue to showcase their hard work. And as costumers, we know better than to attend said costumed event in our civies (mundanes, norms, whatever you call your work-a-day clothes).
However, the pressure of MUST HAVE SHINIEST COSTUME IN THE ROOM OR EPIC FAIL can prevent us from the other important part of costuming – having a fabulous time with our fellow costuming peeps. So when I hear, “I can’t go to Fezziwigs, because I don’t have a costume, and I don’t have the time or money to make one,” I get sad.
And then? I get creative. Who says you have to sew proper Victorian garb from scratch? Who says you even have to sew? You can create a festive Fezziwig ensemble from items you find at your local thrift store. Don’t believe me? Check this out:
I call that Steampunk Lolita Schoolgirl, aka, Stuff I Bought At Saver’s The Week Before ConVergence So I’d Have A Comfy Costume To Wear Opening Night. I revamped the same costume for our Steampunk Sale of the Centuries sale last Saturday, and people seemed to like it. I think it’s the stompy boots. Everyone loves a good pair of stompy boots.
You can thrift a fabulous outfit, whether you’re male or female. Here are a few key pieces to look for:
a. Vests – the dressy kind, NOT the poufy cold-weather kind. Every vest I own (and I own several) have been purchased from a thrift store. Look for men or women’s vests, and if you can’t find them, ask the staff. Menfolk should definitely try ARC Value Village – not all their dress vests sold during Halloween, trust me.
b. Dress shirts – men should look for a collar-less top, women should look for as many ruffles as they can stand. Be sure to ask the staff if they have any ruffled shirts leftover from Halloween. And men – if you have a collared shirt, you CAN remove the collar with a seam-ripper. Then, just stich the open seam shut, and you are set. (NOTE – I recommend black, white, cream, brown, pinstripes, and denim. Try to avoid overly modern patterns or neon colors.)
c. LONG skirts or FULL skirts… or both! Ladies, consider layering two skirts, and ruche up the outer skirt to show off the underskirt. This works best if your underskirt is lacey and petticoat-esque.
d. Dress pants – this works for men OR women. If you have knee-high, basic boots (not uber-Ren-Fest-y or spike-heeled), tuck the pants into the boots. Or, if you feel like sewing, make pants out of pants! I do this a LOT. Cut the pants to knee-length, cut a cuff out of the bottom of each discarded pant leg, pleat the bottom of the pants to the cuff, and blamo! Instant knickers, see?
(NOTE – once again, I recommend “olde time” looking pants. Stripes are FABULOUS for knickers.)
e. Oxford shoes. If you aren’t going the knee-high or granny boot route (both look very appropriate IMHO), try an oxford. RIGHT NOW AS I TYPE, Payless has a women’s heeled, oxford shoe for $24.99. They are cute, comfy, and I own a pair. You may see them at the party…
Once you have the basic outfit, go crazy with accessories. Top hats, bowlers, tiny top hats, pocket watches, modded-out Nerf guns, keys, gears, goggles, gloves, etc. For inspiration, check out the Live Journal Steampunk Fashion community – http://steamfashion.livejournal.com/.
Here are a couple hat resources, to help you out:
a. http://uniformalwearhouse.com/apages/tuxedoahats.html Uniformal Wearhouse
b. http://hatsupply.com/ Hats by Leko
c. Try Claire’s boutique, or other teeny bopper mall stores. They often have tiny top hats you can dress up to make more Steampunk. And Hobby Lobby carries naked tiny top hats in the doll-making section.
Okay! So I got rid of that excuse! Now go buy your ticket, and I’ll see you all December 8th in Stillwater.
by Erin Elizabeth
Once upon a time… well, about 6-7 years ago, my best friend Laura Ulak made my first costume. It was special for two reasons:
1. It was the first costume I helped design. Granted, it was just a belly-dancing vest and skirt, but it was different from everyone else’s vest and skirt, dammit.
2. It remains the only costume I’ve sold in its entirety. Oh sure, I’ve sold bits and pieces along the way, but never again a full costume.
And therein lies the problem. After that one sale, I never sold a costume again. OR GOT RID OF ONE, EITHER. Folks, my name is Erin Schneider, and I hoard costumes.
Don’t believe me? Check this out – I have not one, not two, but three noble/fancy Renaissance festival costumes.
And then I also possess not one, not two, but three mix and match formal/pirate/Cavalier-type Renaissance festival costumes.
Plus a variety of belly-dance costumes for warm weather. AND I DON’T EVEN WORK AT FEST.
I also own 3 different Green Bay Packer costumes.
And three wacked-out historical costumes (cheerleader Elizabethan, fishing 18th Century, and Courtesan Angel of course).
And several Garanimal-style, mix-and-match pieces for Steampunk costumes. Not to mention, a full-on Steampunk fancy-dress costume.
Oh, and that Victorian bathing suit costume.
And that other Cindy Lou Who cartoon reproduction…
and Judy from White Christmas… and, and, and… sigh.
My costumes now take up 6 large plastic tubs in my sewing room. Six. That’s not even counting the fabric stash to make MORE costumes. Or all my costume accessories. Or the wigs… dear god the WIGS. Not to mention my tiara fetish. sigh again.
So what’s costume-lovin’ gal supposed to do? Sell them? Give them away? Rent out a storage unit for the extras*?
*True story – a costuming buddy of mine from Vegas has kept every costume she’s ever made (numbering over 100). There were so many, she rented a storage unit. And then that storage unit flooded. In Vegas, yes.
I’ve decided to take a more thoughtful, less Storage Wars approach. First, I plan to make over some of my existing costumes. For example, that cheerleader Elizabethan? It’s getting turned into a Steampunk cheerleader ensemble for an upcoming Con. Picture a mash up of Bring It On and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Then, I plan to get rid of the bits and pieces I don’t adore, but would be perfect for other costumers. That’s why I love MNSoC’s annual garage sale. On April 2013, several items from the hoard are going bye-bye. And whatever doesn’t sell is going to Saver’s for their Halloween sale.
And last, going forward? I vow to only make the costumes I want to make. That means no more making something so I coordinate with everyone else (i.e. no more costuming peer pressure!). Also, no more last minute “let’s throw this random thing together, even though I already own enough costumes to outfit the Guthrie.” My goal is to have a collection of costumes I love, and not a hoard of costumes threatening to take over my house.
So now let me ask you – do you hoard your costumes? And why? And WHERE?
by Ryn Cat Cording
Ok, this is it. A year of blood (after poking every finger on each hand with that stupid needle), sweat (who knew one could perspire so much?) and tears (that was MY fabric, damn it!), it’s finally finished. It fits like a glove and worth every hour driving around to locate the right set of buttons. This is the best outfit you and your sewing machine have ever turned out – a masterpiece! This will be the year that you take top honors for your hard work. You are a creative genius!
You leave your hotel room, ready to make your entrance. You wait for the perfect lull in conversation, the one that will frame your dramatic entrance. You saunter into the room and…
It’s the exact same outfit! But you spent hours, HOURS driving around to locate this pattern! It’s like prom the year that your best friend wore the exact same outfit! Only worse! There are more!
Welcome to the costumer’s version of the 9th Circle of Hell. Year after year at various conventions, events, even the Renaissance Festival, a single pattern will win the heart of the costuming community like a shot from Cupid. It multiples like plague, accompanied with a healthy dose of “I did it better,” “That was my idea,” “He/She doesn’t look as good as I do,” or even “Why do I even bother?” This is pattern abuse, a devastating force of costuming folly that can lead to bickering, Catwoman fights, steampunked Maverick™ duels and repudiating your sewing machine.
Now, before anyone jumps on the “but lack of experience” and “but I made this on my own” bandwagon, let me explain. I have and do use “big brand” patterns on a regular basis myself; I just perform a little bit of pattern surgery first! Taking our brand patterns and cutting them to bits (in both the literal and figurative senses, sometimes), can be a relatively easy way to learn the shape of a more complicated piece.
No costumer likes to be considered to be thinking inside the box. We are a creative breed! We will take your box and stitch it into blinky lighty-uppy wings that play the theme from Manos: The Hands of Fate! Dear readers, I present Exhibit A: Convergence 2011. The Theme: Steampunk. The Pattern: Simplicity 2172. A fairly significant number of costumes involved this pattern with little (the removal of sleeves) or no alteration. The pattern proclaimed Steampunk! And the masses did go boxward, shepherded by the big brand. Lo, did they commit pattern abuse.
You’ve taken hundreds of photos of your outfit at the event, posted them on Facebook in pride. You find that your photos have been tagged…with someone else’s name. Hence, the second most pressing risk: cloning, just not in the cool science sense. With so many copies of the nearly or identical outfit, your friends mistake you for someone else or don’t even see you at all. You have become invisible in a sea of sameness. Like fashion designers, we are creatures of originality. We claim we would never wear the same thing as the next costumer at any event, and yet like willing lambs to the slaughter, we allow ourselves to be drawn into the army of mannequins.
I could go on to elaborate all of the issues surrounding the comparisons, dashed costuming dreams and ultimately the inability to use the Force ever again, but these risks are but a small leaf on the wind. There are those of you who will dismiss this entire issue as unimportant and continue on the path that could, in the end, cause the zombie apocalypse. Then there are those of you who, even now, are in a state of panic, wondering what you can do to avoid the swirling mass of boxy, sameness. Well, readers, I have a seven-step program that ensures that you never play a part in this travesty:
Step 1: If you choose to build an exact replica, acknowledge that you are not going to be the only one using <insert brand name here>’s pattern and resolve not to have an issue and compare with others who might choose to use the same pattern. This will absolve you of the damaging emotional trauma (and further FUUUUUUUU faces) during the event.
Step 2: Just because the pattern proclaims that is steampunk, cyberpunk, gothic, fantasy, or <insert genre here> does not necessarily mean that it must be used for that purpose. There are many options provided by the big brands that can be altered to suit, if you’ll pardon the pun. No, you do not need to disassemble your pattern and create a new, original creation (although playing Frankenstein can be enlightening and fun!) Rather, changes such as fabric, trim and accessories can change the very aura of the piece you are creating. Outside the box, people! With wings and music!
Step 3: Alter the pattern! It does not need to look exactly like the model provided so tantalizingly on the front of the package. Unless you have the ability Photoshop yourself in the real world, you will not look like the model (despite what numerous fashion magazines and Victoria’s Secret would have you believe.) If you are attempting a fantasy piece, make it your own. Change the shape by making slight alterations to the pattern. Make it longer or shorter, change the sleeves or collar; experiment with the hems by changing the shape or add a jagged hem. Think of it as SCIENCE (!) or the latest challenge from Tim Gunn. Make it work, people!
Step 4: For historical patterns, learn the basic shape. Do research, readers! Dr. Evil would not be successful without doing his homework! Do not be afraid to use colors, fabrics and trims outside of historical accuracy to make it yours. Every costume you build should contain a healthy dose of your own personality. A direct replica of the pattern is just that: a big brand pattern on a person, not a glorious garment that compliments your alter ego.
Step 5: Practice with these patterns and making alterations. Learning the techniques involved in alterations – an inch here, 5/8” seam allowance there – is a great way to learn the basics of pattern making. Before long, you will find yourself creating these shapes on my usual medium: duct-taped brown paper bags. Suddenly, you have a completely original design that NO ONE ELSE HAS. (Take that, high school best friend!)
Step 6: No matter what, OWN IT. If a portion didn’t quite turn out or a buckle didn’t quite go into the right place, it’s still yours. You took a generic, boring pattern created for the masses and reshaped it into an amazing, zombie-repelling piece of alter ego awesomeness.
Step 7: Never say “I can’t”, because you CAN. Every great art takes practice, trial and error. This is no different for our art; an accident can be the most amazing crazy, random happenstance to grace your garment. Take risks! Leave the box on wings that play your own personal theme song! Part the Sea of Sameness!
In conclusion, dear readers, prom was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Embrace the inconceivable and you will find yourself on a journey to more creativity, more fun, self-discovery, accurately tagged Facebook photos and world domination. Really. It worked for Dr. Evil. (Simplicity 5443.)
by Erin Schneider
(At the request of a MNSoC member, I’m putting together a series of posts on accessories. Where to shop, what to look for, how to wear them, etc. Thanks for the idea, Margaret!)
Where To Shop For Accessories, Online.
Who DOESN’T like to shop from the comfort of their couch, safe in their PJs? Bad people, that’s who. Here are a few of my favorite online pit-stops for accessory-related goodies.
1. The Big Guns – eBay.com and Amazon.com. If it doesn’t exist on one of these two sites, you probably don’t need it. I’ve found Battenburg lace fans and parasols for as low as $15 each, big snappy Spanish dance fans for TRUE air circulation, leather arm warmers from China, lace-up bull-roping boots from Durango, Elizabethan hats, and my favorite, tiaras. Every accessory search should start here.
2. Sock Dreams. Oh how I love this shop! Free shipping! Socks or tights for every costuming need! Arm warmers! Cute shop owners with cute puppies and babies! If you need socks, tights, leggings, garters, sock garters, or even a tutu, go here NOW.
3. Great Lookz, http://www.greatlookz.com/. Not the cheapest, but certainly one of the more comprehensive shops for gloves and parasols. Perfect for Steampunk or Victorian!
4. Hats by Leko. If you can’t find the hat you want, make it! You’ll find the best and best-priced millinery supplies at http://hatsupply.com/#, aka Hats by Leko.
5. Girl Props, http://www.girlprops.com/. If you are a girl (or a boy who likes shiny things), you should visit this shop. THEY HAVE TIARAS. ‘Nuf said. They also have fun costume jewelry to round out any fancy dress you might don.
6. Etsy. Oh, Etsy. Sometimes you are fabulous, other times you are overpriced or downright terrifying. (No, I will never see the need for vagina jewelry. I’M JUST SAYING.) But with a bit of digging, you can find lovely, handcrafted jewelry and knitted items for various costuming genres.
7. Victorian/Steampunk gear – Gentlemen’s Emporium, http://www.gentlemansemporium.com/gentlemans.php; Clockwork Couture, http://www.clockworkcouture.com/accessories-1.html. Need help getting ready for Fezziwigs? Start here.
8. Arda Wigs, http://arda-wigs.com/. My wigged-out friends SWEAR by this online store. I’ve seen the wigs up close and personal, and personally want to be close (as in, wear them on my head) with about 5 or 6 different styles. And colors.
9. Max Wigs, http://www.maxwigs.com/. If you want access to all the wigs in all the world, check out Max. They carry my other favorite brand, Lacey Wigs. These guys carry wigs for men, too.
10. Uniformal Wearhouse, http://www.uniformalwearhouse.com/. Attention men! Do you need a top hat? Bowler? Pork pie? Boater? Do you want to spend less than $70? Then run, don’t walk to this online shop. You’ll also find vests, too.
11. 6PM.com. If you need shoes, AND WHO DOESN’T????, you need to check out this online purveyor of all the shoes. Free shipping! Huge discounts! It makes my cheap heart sing.
Now let’s hear from the group. Where do YOU shop for accessories in the Twin Cities and beyond?
We have a special discount for paid members of the Minnesota Society of Costumers (MNSOC) for the month of September: 10% off your purchase at Via’s Vintage in Minneapolis.
Via’s Vintage specializes in vintage clothing from 1800-1980s for women and all decades for men (generally smaller sizes). They carry vintage and reproduction clothing and lingerie and have a huge selection of hats, purses, gloves, shoes and jewelry. They also purchase vintage items, so give them a call to schedule an appointment if you have items to sell. Clothing is on racks by waist size and easy to find. Kellie and the cheerful folks at Via’s are happy to help you find something that will work for you!
Examples of items at Via’s that you could use for costuming:
Discount is good for the month of September and is ONLY available to paid MNSOC members. You MUST show your membership card when paying for your item. Some of Via’s stock is available online as well, but discount can only be done in person, at the shop.
Location: 2408 Hennepin Ave. So., Minneapolis, MN 55405
Hours: Mon-Sat. 11-7, Sun 12-5
REMEMBER: Being a paid MNSOC member has its privileges!