Dragonfly Designs by Alisa



river song

Steampunk River Song

Third Wearing – Gallifrey One 2013

And by photographer Scott Sebring:

Second wearing – Steamcon 2011

This was one of the outfits I wore to Steamcon this year.  You can read about my adventures here.

I love this outfit.   It was comfortable to wear, as well.   By its third wearing (at Gallifrey) I hope to have new goggles made (with the etched image of an angel in the lenses, and possibly a vortex manipulator.  I thought I’d get tired of carrying the journal around all day, but it was oddly handy for tucking business cards, etc inside the pages!

First wearing 10/12/11

I work at a library that has periodic “fun days” where the staff dresses up in various themes/costumes.  Today was our semi-annual “Steampunk Day”, and I wore River Song.

Whoops – someone shelved my TARDIS journal!  


Maybe the journal should be shelved on THIS side?  Now you can see my gun, lipsticks, and my most awesome tailcoat pockets.  🙂 I love those pockets!

It was very weird to have such bouncy hair!

And the back.

You can’t really see the red-dyed boots in these, so here’s a shot of me with a couple of co-workers:

Next wearing will be Friday at Steamcon III.  So excited!  Remember, if you’re attending also, find me and I’ll give you a special badge ribbon!  🙂

TARDIS journal completed! 10/3/11

 Last night I sewed/glued the pages into the leather cover, let it press over night to dry, and this is the result.

Even though it’s my first attempt and thus not perfect, I really couldn’t be more pleased.  I feel like carrying it around the house just so I keep on stroking its cover and sniffing its lovely new-leather scent.  I’m definitely making more journals!  This was fun!

And with that…this outfit is officially done – for now.  My friend Laura U. gave me some great suggestions re: the goggles and etching an angel design in the lens that I am totally going to try later on.  No time before Steamcon, though!   🙂

Journal Pages – 9/30/11

I decided to write in the first three pages as if I were River song – plus, I added a bunch more antiquing to the pages.

Here’s the flyleaf:

And here’s the two inside pages (don’t laugh at my horrible sketches!):

The next two pages are discolored and antiqued as well…but I thought I’d save those without drawings/writings.  Hopefully I’ll be able to collect a few famous signatures at Gallifrey when I go.  Too bad Alex Kingston can’t make it in 2012….how much would I love to have HER signature in this diary!!!!  Maybe some day….

Next, I attach the leather cover, and then it’s all done!

Journal pages, lipstick, & goggles  9/24/11

After searching the internet for ideas (and finding this completely awe-inspiring and envy-making example) I have decided to age and decorate the first few pages of my journal.

So far, I have tea-stained the pages, using this tutorial.

Next I need to get some brown ink in different shades, and I can start the fun stuff!

And I’ve added a lipstick holder onto my gun holster…as well as decorated the gun a little bit more.

Basically I just bought two lipsticks with plain cases, spray painted and Rub ‘n Buffed the cases to make them match the rest of the outfit, then riveted on a strap to hold them in place.

Plus, I finally finished decorating the goggles.  I really wanted the image of an angel in the lens, but the only thing I can think of to make that work is using glass etching, and I don’t have time to learn another skill right now! Maybe for Gallifrey I’ll have it figured out.

I basically just bought a cheap plastic pair of googles, switched the elastic strap for faux leather, painted the plastic, and glued on brass finding to each side.

TARDIS journal dye job 9/22/11

I tooled the back cover, and then dyed it, using Eco-Flo Cova Color in Royal Blue.  After two coats, I did a wash of black in the cuts for contrast.  Now I need to let the dye dry, and after that, I’ll put a sealer on, and attach the pages inside the cover – but here’s how it looks right now:

I’d say the color is a little darker in person than it appears in the photo.  The journal is not 100% perfect – but for my first ever attempt at tooling, I’m insanely pleased with how it turned out.  It was fun, too – I’ll definitely be doing more of this!

One awesome thing was how easily the leather adapted to ‘book shape’.  After I tooled it (when the leather was still slightly damp), I wrapped it around the book pages and pressed it underneath a heavy box.  The leather fitted perfectly to the pages, and now it holds its shape even when I take it off the pages.

TARDIS journal beginning 9/18/11

Today, I began my first foray into leather tooling.  This costume is turning out to be all about learning completely new things!  This is shot of River Song’s journal as seen on the television series:

So first of all, I bought a strip of 3/4 oz vegetable dyed leather, and two tools.

A special knife

and a simple beveler.  I could not find an image of the type of beveler I have, but it’s basically just a rounded bit of metal on a handle.  You use it add depth to your designs.

Here’s a shot of the leather with the design cut into it:

I didn’t get the cuts *exactly* square and perfect, but I wasn’t stressing over trying to. The actual journal doesn’t look perfect to me either!  🙂

Next I used the beveler against the cuts:

And, on the left side, you’ll notice I made an extra bit.  This will be folded to create the spine, like so:

I still need to cut and bevel the back, and then cut the excess leather off.  For a first attempt at leather tooling, I’m pleased.  I think by the time it’s dyed and distressed, it will look quite decent.  I might have to get some more leather and try my hand at a different kind of design sometime!  It definitely used muscles I’m not used to working so hard – my left arm hurt and I had a numb spot on my thumb when I was done.

I thought about making the interior pages myself too – I’ve done that sort of thing before – but I couldn’t find paper I liked, and in the end I just bought a “journal refill”.  The pages are rough-cut and look just like hers – all I need to do is tea stain them.

I have also finished River’s gun, her goggles, and her lipstick holder, but I didn’t get pics, so I’ll show you those another day!  Other than finishing up her journal, I’m done with this outfit!  Yay!

Boots 8/18/11

The red shoe polish came in the mail today, so I polished my boots.  Since I did not want to shell out another $8 for the special brush, I took the internet’s advice and used an old toothbrush!  Worked like a charm.  I used the toothbrush to apply the polish, then (after washing the brush) I used it to buff the polish off.

It was surprisingly hard work, and made me really glad I don’t have to do this on a regular basis!

But now the boots are SO PRETTY and I’m SO HAPPY with them!!!!  I just need to find some red laces now….

Boots 8/13/11

One of the more frightening things I had to do for this costume was take a pair of lovely, brand-new, not-cheap pairs of leather Victorian boots and re-dye them red.  I was nervous about it, but thanks to Mrleatherlegs’ wonderful step-by-step tutorial on youtube, I felt confident to attempt it.  So today, that is what I did.

Here are the boots, as they were:

Aw, they are so pretty I hated to mess with them!  But I bought the deglazer Mrleatherlegs used (Fiebling’s deglazer), and got to work.  I think I used way more of this deglazer than necessary, because on light colored boots like this, it did not have the visibly color-stripping effect that it did on the dark brown boots in the tutorial.  But, in the end, I got a pair of stripped boots that really did not look much different than the non-stripped boots.  A little less shiny, but it doesn’t show much in the photo.  They are still shiny!  At this point I was worried. Had the de-glazer worked?  Will the dye take?  Will it take evenly?  GAH!!!!! Help me!!!!

But no worries, the dye was *lovely*.  Again, I went with Mrleatherlegs’ choice of dye: Eco-Flo in Scarlet.  Even the first coat was nearly perfect.

Just to be sure, I added two more coats.

I let it dry, then applied three coats of Eco-Flo Satin Shene.  When I was done buffing, the boots looked like this:

Now that I know what color they turned out, I’ve ordered some shoe polish, and will buff these beauties up to a gorgeous shine!

I am so happy with how they turned out.  The color is just how I hoped it would be, and the entire process wasn’t difficult at all, but it was fairly time-consuming.

And, as I noticed when I looked down at my gloves (and my jeans!) this dye makes a nice blood stand-in.  I think I’ll experiment with using it as blood splatter on any future zombie/vampire/whatever outfits!

Sewing, Finished!  7/25/11

This costume is now done, except for the boots, journal, and goggles.  Here are some pictures:

Forgive the wrinkled state – I despise ironing, and as I know it’ll get crumpled in my luggage, there doesn’t seem much of a point to ironing it now! 

On the advice of my friend Sara B., I shortened the overshirt to allow the petticoat ruffles to show.  It might not be practical (as an archaeologist) but it’s so pretty!

Nearly *everything* on this costume, including the undergarments was made from trim, fabrics, and buttons that I already owned.  Pretty much the only thing I bought was thread, and the faux tooled leather for the combo waist cincher/belt.  When this picture was taken, I still hadn’t sewn the clasps on for the gun holster.  Notice the two pockets, one of which is for a pocket watch.

The jacket buttons onto the waist.

Without the jacket:

The waist cincher/belt has shoulder straps, and laces on both sides.

And here is a video tour, that includes the holster, gun, and sonic screwdriver!

Jacket 6/12/11

The jacket is DONE.  Yay!

Be warned: in all these shots the shape of the sleeves look a bit wonky because they really need an arm inside them to fill them out properly!

See?  Wonky sleeves – especially at the shoulder!  I swear, they fit gorgeously when they are on me!

I used Simplicity pattern #2525, but as always, I modified it quite a bit.  I changed the sleeves completely, I altered the fit of the back to allow for a bustle, and I made a small change to the waistline.  I also put pockets in the tails!  This has long been an ambition of mine, to possess a tailcoat with pockets in the tails, but it has never looked right with any tailcoat I’ve made up until now.  And I’m very, very glad they look well with this particular costume, because I really needed a couple of nice deep pockets to carry my cell phone, camera, and other modern gear in.  I always try to build that sort of carry room into every costume I make.  I dislike having to haul a purse or bag about with me at faires and conventions.

So what’s left on this one?  Well, I have to finish the blouse’s cuffs and install the buttons.  I have to finish the skirt hem and waistband.  I have to make a faux leather waistcoat/belt/vest thingee (exact design still in the works, but it will have a holster built in for River’s gun).  I have to dye the boots red, and make/steampunk up all her other accessories, including her journal.  And I have to sew a zillion ruffles on to the underskirt, finish the corset, and make some sort of chemise for under the corset.  Yeah, it looks sort of finished in the pictures, but there is still a lot to do!!!

Steampunk River Song

River Song is my favorite Doctor Who character (besides David Tennant’s Doctor!) so when I got to thinking about doing a cosplay of her, I wanted it to be something different, not just a recreation of her actual screen clothing.  Thinking of her being an archaeologist and a time traveler, led to the idea of a steampunk version of her.

My basic premise for how to dress her began when I started thinking about Victorian-era archaeologists.  I love how the females (and the males too, really!) would wear the most impractical outfits to digs… bustles, petticoats, corsets, ruffles, and long skirts.   I already possessed some lovely brown fabric.  I have no idea at all what it is, but it’s about the weight of twill, with a softness like moleskin.  It drapes wonderfully, and is just the right weight.  I used Simplicity pattern #8375 for the skirt, but I modified it considerably. I adore this skirt pattern; I’ve used it over and over.  It’s just very basic, and adapts well.

I’ve made it front-opening, with a double set of buttons.  The waist is still unfinished, because I haven’t finished the corset I’m going to wear, and I haven’t hemmed the skirt.  I’m still deciding exactly how short I want to make it.

It does have a bustle underneath, which you can’t see from this angle.

For the blouse, I wanted something a bit feminine, yet at least a little practical-seeming.  I chose Simplicity pattern # 2447, and didn’t really modify it at all.  I did change the collar just a bit, but that’s because I accidentally threw out one of the pattern pieces I needed for that, and rather than buy a new one, I just made one up. It still needs buttons down the front…I’m thinking cream ones, so that they blend in.  The sleeves don’t have cuffs yet, because I’m still working on the jacket and I’m not sure yet if I want a bit of them to show beyond the jacket’s cuffs.

One of the most iconic bits of clothing for River Song (at least for me) are the red stilettos she wears in “Time of Angels”.  They even have their own facebook page!

Now obviously, there is nothing Victorian about these!  So I thought the nearest thing would be a pair of red leather Victorian boots.

Which are impossible to find…at least with my budget.  So I bought a pair of light tan leather ones, and will be attempting to dye them red myself.  *fingers crossed*  I did find a lovely youtube video with step by step directions, and it doesn’t look very difficult.

Other accessories will be River’s sonic screwdriver (I’ll buy the licensed one when it goes up for sale later this summer and steampunk it), her TARDIS journal (I will be making this myself), an Egyptian-inspired brooch for her blouse (a tip of the hat to the episode in which she masqueraded as Cleopatra), a pair of goggles with special Weeping Angel protective lenses, a steampunked gun similar to one of the screen weapons she carries, a tooled leather belt, and a very curly wig.

I have made pretty good progress on the jacket, so I’ll post more pictures by this weekend.

River Song Victorian

Finished 2/22/13

I was so busy sewing for the Gallifrey One that I didn’t get any in-progress pics like I normally would.  So here’s a bunch of me wearing it at Gally.  Note: I am not AT ALL happy with the silver underskirt…in fact, I was so displeased, that after I wore it, I gave it away to a friend.  It is stretch taffeta, which is the most evil fabric in existence, and it just will not behave like River’s skirt is supposed to behave.  I found the perfect non-stretch taffeta in LA, and before I wear this again, I will make a new skirt!


Reference Pics 10/31/12

This is the dress River Song wears during her date with the Doctor.  He takes her to the Frost Fair in 1814 for her birthday.  Which is kinda weird, because women did not wear this style of dress in 1814, but who cares really?  She’s with the Doctor!  It’s timey wimey fashion!


My gorgeous fabric fairy Laura U. found me the perfect striped fabric during her visit to New York.  All I need is the solid underskirt fabric, and the various trims.  This one will be completed by February’s Gallifrey One.  So excited!  I’ve been wanting to make this one for ages!

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