Dragonfly Designs by Alisa




1830s Yellow Dress

This one is mostly done, but not quite. I’m making a blue sash to go over the shoulder, because this dress has a particular purpose. It’s going to be on the cover of my upcoming steampunk book series: The Journals of Miss Winnifred Sebastian-Veals. Set in 1839, it follows the adventures of a group of intrepid women, the Society of Queen’s Own Monster Hunters, as they travel to exotic places in service to Queen Victoria.  The first in the series, A Manifestation of Monstrosities, will be published in December.

I bought the yellow satin in the fabric district of Los Angeles last year, when I was visiting my dream dress, the also yellow “Canary Dress” from Crimson Peak.

This one turned out to be good practice for that one – if I ever get the time to devote to making it. For instance, I can’t find the right color of greenish-yellow anywhere…but I learned that if you need to flat line a yellow satin dress, and you only have black fabric, lining yellow with black actually gives it a greenish tint, and adds a whole lot of depth and texture. Totally doing that when I make the Crimson Peak dress!

If you’re interested, I am posting the first half or so of the new book series on my Goodreads page. It’s still a bit rough, as I haven’t finished the editing yet, but I’ll keep posting new chapters until the book actually comes out in print. You can find those chapters here:

Since the dress itself is mostly finished, I am turning my attention to the various props that will also be a part of this cover, and of the covers to come. A mermaid mask from Venice. A rag doll with the head of the Egyptian god Anubis. A skull. A birdcage. A mechanical heart.

Steampunk Photoshoot

Last weekend, I got to spend two days with photographer Tyson Vick.  Besides being amazing with a camera, he’s also a fabulous costumer!  I’m still in awe of his recreation (embroidery and all) of this historical outfit.  Tyson and I have been talking costuming and steampunk online for awhile now, so it was wonderful to finally meet him in person.

He had an idea for a steampunk photoshoot based around the Opium Wars, and wanted to use my costumes for the lady models.  We went to Fort Casey, WA for the first day, and used the WWII bunkers for our background.  Lovely Meilyn was our evil steampunk villain, and Christopher our hero-in-distress.

I can’t share any of the actual pictures Tyson took until they are published (which will be next summer) but I brought my camera and took a few to give you the idea of what we did.  Tyson’s will be MUCH better!  :)

It was quite odd to see my costumes on another woman; when her back was turned it was almost like I was standing next to myself!  An eerie-cool feeling!  This one is, of course, my Steampunk Geisha.  The wig was made by Tyson…another of his many talents!

Christopher was genuinely terrorized by Meilyn’s long metal fingertips!

I helped Tyson’s friend and assistant, Lizzie, with light reflection.

The other costume of mine we used on this day was my pirate coat (given a steampunk twist with the addition of a bustled skirt and modded shotgun.)

The models enjoyed the steampunk props.  Meilyn told me that this was the longest shoot she’d worked on…but the most fun!

Besides being fun, it was just slightly death-defying – at least to this height-phobic costumer!  ;)

This was my first photoshoot, and I had a blast.  Tyson’s a great guy, and easy to work with, and the models were high-energy and fun.

Sunday we went to Gasworks Park, in Seattle.

This was particularly fun for me, because while I’d driven past this park several times, I’d never actually been.  And it’s so STEAMPUNK!   It also has amazing views of the city, including the Space Needle.  (Why did they paint the top orange???  That’s just weird!)

This time model Christopher was joined by the heroine, Jadi.  Jadi wore my “Airship Pirate” pirate outfit.

Jadi is more blessed with curves than I am, so I had an opportunity to test-drive my corset, by lacing her in quite a bit harder than I normally would.  She actually had to hold onto the car, while Tyson and I yanked the laces!   And then, we made her jump, run, and climb.  Proving, once again, that it’s possible to do things like that in a corset!  ;)

Love this next shot…I don’t know what’s going on, but Christopher seems to be having a stare-down with Tyson!

Everyone loved playing with the guns!  I’m kinda surprised the police didn’t show up to arrest us, with all the guns, swords, and knives we were packin’.

I have a great fondness for that costume…it was the very first steampunk outfit I ever made!

Tyson, demonstrating how to climb the side of an airship while shooting.

After we finished the Great Pirate Battle at Gasworks, we went to another Seattle location, Kerry park.  It was very small, but it did have an interesting sculpture…and lots of milling tourists!

For this shoot, Jadi wore my Ottoman outfit.

The models shared some tender moments…. (lookit how pretty the beetlewing embroidery is on that jacket!!!)

….but this happened too!

That feathers on her turban were very unruly in the wind….as were the before-mentioned tourists!

Time out for feather-fixing…and a little key-wrangling.

Then I came home and unpacked the car and put everything away.  GAH.


Steampunk Zombie Hunter

I’ve finished the zombie hunter jacket (except for the back patch, which is being custom made).  I think it looks pretty awesome!

Here are some pictures:

Notice the medal I made for “Meritorious Mayhem against the Living Dead”!  (Using one of my replacement silver zombie heads.  The first zombie heads were stolen by my household gremlins!)

Imagine the back of this with an awesome custom zombie patch….

This is a shot of the underarm holster.  This was made from an old purse I picked up at Value Village.  Lots of little straps and clips!  It has one pocket, and a place to hold a weapon.  I need to make that weapon, one of these days….

Here’s the thigh holster, made from the same purse. There’s a pocket, a gun holster, and a secret pocket behind the gun!  I’m really pleased with how this turned out (although it looks better when it’s worn by someone with thighs, unlike my dress dummy!).  I’m already on the lookout for more purses whenever I hit Value Village!

I still plan to add some more details, but it’s finished enough to wear to two events!


Steampunk Explorer

Finished! 5/8/14

Well, I got busy and didn’t really get many in-progress pics for you, but here’s the finished results.

The underskirt is an Edwardian-inspired hobble skirt…so practical for exploring the deserts of Egypt and fighting off evil mummies!

The corset is hiding a convenient zipper behind those buttons.

And has lots of pockets.  Pockets are extremely practical!

The back looks a bit wonky in this photo – I didn’t notice I had the skirt slightly askew before I took the picture.

Steampunk Wedding Dress

Finished!  7/5/14

The wedding dress in done.  Well, except for putting grommets in the swiss waist.  I discovered I was out of silver ones, so I had to order some.  They’ll be here next week, so I can put those in and ship this dress to Montana for its big photoshoot.

I’m not going to lie; I’m VERY ready to be finished sewing 25 yards of Ivory silk!  If I were making a dress for myself, it would never be in this color.  Good thing I have very colorful projects lined up next!

So, on to the pictures!

I made it with a detachable train.  The skirt is altered from Truly Victorian’s #125.   It’s a petticoat pattern, but I left out the net inside, only used the outer shell.  And I’ll let you in on a little secret…I sewed it together upside down, using the hem as the waistline, and the actual waist as the hem.  Why?  Because I accidentally put it on my dummy that way (don’t ask me how!) and it worked.  It worked fantastically!

The smaller circumference around the lower legs drew the skirt in to almost a Victorian version of a mermaid dress, and the really large circumference around the waist let me do some interesting pleating at the waist and down the back of the legs.

Let me show you.

This is the back of the skirt, sans train:

This is how it looked on the dummy, just pinned in place – and minus the upper layer of pleats:

After I sewed the lower pleats around the bottom of the skirt, I folded the pleats in on themselves, like so:

And then allowed the folds to travel up the skirt to the waist:

Full view of the finished back (bearing in mind that I can’t properly lace or fit the waist without grommets):

And from the front?

Notice the sleeves have buttons now, and there are more pearl embellishment on the swiss waist.

The train buttons on, just under the upper layer of pleats.

And from the back, you can see just how long that train really is!

Sometime I’m going to have to revisit this skirt “mistake” – I’d like to make a skirt like this in something I would actually wear myself!

Wedding Gown – 6/13/14

This is kind of a fun one for me – I’ve never done a wedding dress before.  And this is definitely an over-the-top wedding dress!  I purchased 25 yards of ivory faux silk fabric, and except for about 40″ that I’m sending to my co-creator, Tyson Vick, I’m going to be using every bit of that yardage, I think.

I haven’t done more than cut out the fabric for the train, and the skirt is about 1/2 way finished, but the bodice is done except for buttons on the front and sleeves.

Here’s a few pictures.

I really love the collar I designed for it.

The bodice is New Look 6945, but I switched out the sleeves with another of Truly Victorian’s wonderful patterns – the 1980’s Victorian Sleeves Pattern.  It was, as always, brilliant to work with…although the sheer volume of fabric required for each sleeve made it quite interesting to make.  Since my fabric was on the thin side, I flat-lined it with cotton.  Including the lining and a second structural lining of stiff net, that made me use around 8 yards of fabric for each sleeve!  Gah!  I could have made a ballgown with the yardage I put into these sleeves alone!

I have also completed most of the swiss waist, although it still requires more decoration.

I ruched a panel of fabric, then applied it to the front.  It makes a pretty effect, I think.

And here it is, put together.  Well, pinned together, since none of the fastening are sew on! 

This style of sleeve always looks so wonky without an actual arm inside.

Oh, I forgot to mention: the lace panel on front is a piece of vintage lace I found on ebay.  Since the gown is lined in blue silk, this gives the dress “something old”, “something new”, and “something blue”.  Philomena just needs to borrow an accessory, and she’s all set for her wedding!

Since I have no reason to keep a wedding dress, this one will be going up for sale after the book’s photoshoot.

Steampunk Tenth Doctor

Costume Con 30

Judges Choice in the Fantasy/Sci Fi Masquerade!  “All the Whos in Whoville”.  All eleven Doctors plus one extra….  For more info on this, see this blog post.

Oh, look!  It’s River!

With Suzette, the First Doctor.

And Arte, the Eleventh.

Gallifrey One 2012

For lots more pictures of me wearing this costume, go to my Random Blog:

Done, but for goggles  1/26/12

And YES.  I’m calling this one done – all that’s left is to put the strap on the goggles and add the red/blue lenses.  The lenses are being custom made for me by a lovely Etsy seller – and he’s only charging me $4 (including shipping!)  If you need anything made, contact him.

So here’s what you’re all waiting for – the pictures!

The blouse has its buttons finally!  Read more about the blouse, including pattern info n the post below this one.)

The back of the blouse is gathered.

For the cravat, I took a wide man’s tie, and took it apart and put it back together.

I’m absurdly pleased with it – and it was easy too!  Maybe (after Gallifrey One) I’ll do a tutorial for you guys?

It buttons at the side:

The buttonhole is all raggedly – I need to clip the loose threads!

Also, I finished the spats.  They are a deeper red than they appear.  Stupid camera that won’t capture color right!  Like all my spats, they have a hidden zipper under the buttons, and they lace up the back.

Here’s what the suit looks like, minus the coat.  The bloomers do not hang quite right on the dummy – since I can’t put them on her (her stand gets in the way of the legs holes.)  They are just pinned on in front.

Notice the pocket watch chain across the front?

And instead of doing blue plastic buttons as I did on my previous Tenth Doctor outfit, I decided to go steampunk with metal buttons.  Look – they sort of have gears on them!  I found them at Walmart, for super cheap, and they are so HEAVY and quality.  I’m very happy with them!

So there you are!  And I’ll post pictures of me wearing this very soon – this one is going to Gallifrey One with me, in mid-February! If you see me there, come up and say hello!!!  I’ll have ribbons!!!!!

Progress!   1/18/12

I was snowed from work today, so I worked on the bloomers.  They are done – except for putting in a waist band.  Instead of simply gathering the top with elastic (as they did on an extant pair of 1895 bloomers) I’m going to make a fitted waist, then put the gathering on at hip level.  There is a LOT of fabric to gather, and I’m afraid it will mess up the fit of the bodice/vest.   The bodice/vest is finished except for adding buttons.

Notice all the snow.  Gah!  I am so not a winter person!  But it does make for a difference in the making-of costume pics…and that’s the only reason I didn’t wait to take them until after the snow was gone.

I draped the bodice/vest without using a pattern, and the front of it is pretty much a copy of Tennat’s suit.  Only a little more fitted.  The blouse still needs buttons as well, and the pattern for that is the Truly Victorian #491.  I used the sleeve lining as the actual sleeves, because I didn’t want them to be too bulky under the coat.

I changed the back from Tennant’s suit – I put some gathering in the back, and changed the peplum to more a bustle-look.

And I lined everything in this awesome fabric!

Coat Finished!  1/14/12

Those sleeves were a PAIN.  I don’t like setting sleeves, period, and this fabric was thick enough to make gathering and sewing in these sleeves a difficult job.  Thank goodness for seam rippers!  But here it is, all done:

The upper part of the coat is made using Simplicity pattern #2525, with sleeves from Truly Victorian’s blouse pattern #491.  The back with the buttoned flap, I copied from pictures of David Tennant’s coat.

Glad this is done (even though it was largely fun to sew…other than those sleeves!) because I’m on a serious deadline here.  And I keep adding more costumes, so it’s totally my own fault.  And last night?  I was dreaming up a new steampunk costume to wear to the Abney Park concert Jon and I are going to this summer!  An early finish to this costume means I might actually get to make it (and heaven forbid!) not have to wear an old outfit!    Plus, I’m really excited to get to work on the stuff for Costume Con….this long weekend, I am going to try really hard to finish the bicycling outfit to wear under this Ten coat.

The Coat

First, a few pictures of the original coat:

And because it seems to be impossible for me to find a view of him from the back, here’s one of a replica costume.

I thought of making this outfit Victorian by turning this coat into a 1895 cycling cotume, like this extant example:

After a couple days of work, this is what I have…so far.  The sleeve is still only pinned in place, as is the collar.

Because I’d previously made a Tenth Doctor coat (See the page: Femme Ten), I already knew how the back slit works, and it was pretty simple to make another, tailcoat version.  The sleeves, however, are being the very devil.  I HATE setting sleeves even when they are ordinary sleeves, and these…well, there’s nothing ordinary about those puffy monstrosities!  Plus the fabric is quite thick for gathering, so it’s all unyielding and awkward.  But I’m soldering through, and the jacket will be done very soon.

How I came up with this idea

Concept: Female Steampunk Victorian Tenth Doctor

I’m going to do an entire blog entry on coming up with this idea, and how to “steampunk” characters that aren’t steampunk, so I’ll just put the finished concept sketch here.

This one will be done by early 2012.  I have the fabrics – all I need is time to sew it!

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.

Airship Pirate Steampunk

What to call this one?

All I have is a fabulous idea for a corset, and some knickers!

Using this fabulous stripe:

Since “Steampunk #1” also known as the Geisha Steampunk, is becoming more dress-up fancy, I think this one will be more down-and-dirty.  Possibly becoming pirate-like.  I’ll start with the corset and knickers and see what else it wants to be.


If I go with the airship pirate theme, these are my buttons!


These are deeply cool….



I have the pattern for the jacket/corset! I used Simplicity 3629 as the base, but I changed it quite a lot during the process of mocking it up.

This fabric was supposed to be merely for pattern-making purposes, but now that I have it mocked up, I’m finding I like it.  So odds are, I will now make 2 steampunk jackets from this pattern. Also, it has a sort of 18th century feel, so I suspect I’ll use it later in a revised form as a 18th ladies’ riding jacket.

Anyway, there will be a matching corset underneath, and this jacket will button onto it.

Notice the little flaps with semi-hidden pockets and gear-hooks!  The buckle will eventually become a belt.

Here’s the back.  Everything is still partly pinned, and the collar and button lapel are just odd little scraps I roughly pinned into place, just to give a vague idea.

Sort of pinned together…

Here’s the jacket, in the striped fabric.  Bloomer underneath, also striped:

I pinned together the lapels in red, but now am thinking Definitely Not Red.  It looks like a steampunk circus!  I think the lapels will also be striped, and the pockets as well.  Since it’s lined in red, and I want to distress the jacket as if I’d been wearing for a few years while pirating on steamships, I’ll rip a few frayed holes and let a bit of red peek through.

That’s probably all the red we need, thanks very much!

There will be a ripped and stained white lacy skirt under the jacket (tucked up in front to show a peek of bloomer), and a brown bustled skirt (also tucked up) over the lacy one.

I really, really like how it’s going together so far.

Jacket – nearly done!

No sleeves yet, and the pockets and hemming isn’t done, and then I need to tear holes in it, and “distress” it, but otherwise….

Oh, and I still can’t decide whether the pockets should stay red, as they are in the picture, or whether I should make them out of the brown striped fabric.  I’m leaning toward striped.

The white skirt is my white lace and cotton gauze underskirt.  Still not entirely done, but you can sort of get the idea of how much fun I had ripping it to shreds!   The brown overskirt is not finished at all – it’s just pinned in there.  I’m using the ring and ribbon method of bustling; the brown skirt is just a long, open-front skirt.  Here’s a tutorial:

A close-up.

A closer-up.  I completely love the buckles.   (And in case you’re wondering…yes…there WILL definitely be something under the buckles.  A blouse, or corset, or something…. )

The back.  More buckles.  Buckles are my new babies.

I’ll wear a leather belt around my waist, sitting just beneath the buckles.   This has been an interesting jacket to make, because I’ve just been winging it as I sew.  I had no idea of the front or back buckles, for instance, until I actually started making them.

Pretty much done…

As far as the sewing of fabric.  I still have quite a lot of techie-bits creating and hatmaking, but it’s a happiness to have the jacket officially done!  (except for distressing)

Here are a ton of pics:

The bustled skirt.  There’s a bit of lace poking out the bottom, but it’s so light it blends into the paving stones.


Various belts, watches, chains, etc attached.

And here’s something new: I recently was given a (very cheap) camcorder, so I filmed a brief “video tour” of this costume and uploaded it to YouTube. Enjoy!



Every steampunk outfit needs a good gun, so here’s mine.  I started with one of those $1 purple plastic squirt guns from Walmart.  One black base coat later (Krylon paint, which bonds to plastic with fantastic results), I have this:

Then I bought 2 tubes of “Rub ‘n Buff”, in silver and gold. Their website says:

Lustrous wax base metallic finishes for antiquing, crafts and decorating.  Just rub onto any surface with finger or soft cloth, then gently buff to a beautiful luster.  Great for picture frames and other textured surfaces.Rub n Buff is a wax base metallic finish formulated from imported carnuba waxes, fine metallic powders and select pigment.  This unique blend gives pieces decorated with Rub n Buff a finish no paint can duplicate.  It can be applied to any clean dry surface, as well as over previously painted surfaces. 

I have to say, their advertising is spot-on.  This stuff is AMAZING, and why have I never heard of it before I started this steampunk thing?  It’s really fun, too.  Here’s the gun partially Rub ‘n Buffed:

After I took the pic, I went back over it with more Rub ‘n Buff – couldn’t make myself stop, I was having so much fun! – and then glued some metal buttons and gears over it.  I found the gears in the scrapbooking section of Michael’s.  I held them up with glee (I’d been looking all over for just this sort of little gears) and said to my mother: “Look!  Steampunk’s gone mainstream!”  She said: “I still don’t understand what Steampunk is.”

So there’s the gun.  I’m still going to add a few more bits to it, but yeah.  It looks pretty good.  When I showed it to my brother, he said: “You made this?”  That’s high praise.


Also, (and totally unrelated to weaponry), I’m happy to report I finally got a set of garter belt clips.  The first ones I ordered ended up looking too big, so those are going to be saved for something else.  I scoured the internet….well, I scoured Ebay….and didn’t find a single set of smaller clips.  Finally I got the bright idea of seaching for garter belts.  Turns out it’s cheaper to buy the entire belt ($5) and just cut off the clips, then it is to buy just the clips.  Huh.  Good to know.

Bloomer and spats

The bloomers are done!

Bad pic, because I was just basically holding the camera out at random and taking the picture myself.  And it’s taken before the garter clips were sewn on.  I tried the bloomers on to measure where the clips needed to go, and was too lazy to put them back on after and take another picture.  Later, I’ll get a better one.  You probably can’t quite tell, but the little white stripes just above my skin is the lace I sewed around the bottom edge.  The bloomers are puffing out and you can only see a little of the lace from this angle.

Spats.  I have my pattern.]

I used a pair of actual vintage spats (which are regretfully too small to fit around my calves) as a base pattern, then enlarged it a bit and made it fit.  I think it’ll work well, once I decide on a fabric.  Brown, I think?  Maybe a felt, or wool.  That seems to be what my vintage spats are made of.

Finished Spats.

I am so in love with these.  I was nervous starting these, because I’d never done anything like spats before, and I wasn’t sure how easy they’d be to do.  But actually, they were fun to make, partly because they were so different, and partly because they turned out!  Never under-estimate the power of the turning out.  🙂

The fabric is pretty cool, too. I searched all over the fabric store without finding anything I really liked, and finally I just stuck a bolt of brown duck in my cart.  But then, while I was inspecting the red-tag fabric closer, I saw the tip of a skinny bolt of brownish fabric sticking out.  I pulled it out, and it was this splendid brownish/greenish canvas-y stuff.  No idea what it is, but it’s the perfect weight, and the perfect color, and there was just enough left on the bolt.  That’s karmic.

I considered doing functional buttons, but then went with lacing, because I liked the idea.  The piping, BTW, is more of a cream than the blazing white it appears in the above picture.  I’ll probably use matching cream cord for lacing, when I get my hands on some cream cord.


Still to be distressed…

Tomorrow, I’m working on the top hat.


The hat:

I started with a cheap $2 “Party City” top hat.  Since it was made for a gigantic head, I cut the crown off, and took a good two inch chuck out of the brim.  Then I put in some grommets and laced the brim back together in my size.  It looked so cool that I made the grommet side be the front, instead of the back (as I had originally planned).  Then I set the crown back down on top, glued it in place, and glued a brown ribbon around it to hide the seam.  Sometime I may make a hat like this with grommets that go all the way up the crown and down to the other side.  I might have done it this time, except that I ran out of grommets, and don’t have time to order more before the this Sunday Abney Park event.

The goggles were purchased off ebay for about $6.  They were silver and not too pretty.  I jazzed them up with some “Rub n Buff”.  That stuff is my new best friend.  I wonder now how I lived without it.

The Gauntlet:

This was supposed to be a jazzy number with lights, and working clock bits.  I’ll still make that glove someday, but again…don’t have time before the Abney Park concert.  (Gosh I love writing that – I’m going to see Abney Park!!!!!!) 

So instead I took a leather gauntlet and stuck on a bunch of cool stuff.  Gears, and keyholes, and chains.  And dangling keys.  It might not be what I wanted, but it’s interesting visually.

And that’s it, folks.  The next time I update, it will be with live pictures from the concert – did I mention I’m seeing Abney Park?

Me Steampunked

I got some lovely compliments on it, and it was great fun to wear!

And the Abney Park concert?  I’ll be blogging about it (with pics and video) once I get them sorted out, but on my “Random” blog.   I’ll put up a direct link to that post once I finish it.

Second Wearing – with new blouse!

I recently had an opportunity to wear a steampunk outfit to work.  I chose this one.


Black & White Steampunk


I’ve been hard at work on this one, largely because I’m going to FaerieWorlds at the end of January.  I’ve been wanting to go for a while now, but the deciding factor was when they announced that my favorite band, Abney Park, was going to be playing the Bad Faeries Ball.  Faeries, steampunk, and Abney Park?  That’s a gotta see!

I could have simply worn the faerie outfit I made for Halloween, or one of my other costumes, but I can’t resist the desire to make something new…especially when I’ve got this new steampunk outfit started!  So, one week of semi-frantic sewing (interspaced with semi-frantic Christmas preparation) yields this:

The waistcoat you’ve seen before, in my blog.  Underneath it is a blouse and waist-cincher cut from pieces of a vintage skirt I’ve had in storage forever.  It had a few rips, and wasn’t really in good enough condition to wear as a skirt, but it was quite full, and I could salvage a lot of fabric. Also, I made a lace cravat! I’m still looking for the perfect elegant (yet steampunk-y) brooch to wear with it.  I’m thinking maybe a cameo of some sort?

The waist-cincher is still largely pinned together – only 1/2 is boned.

Here’s a close up of the sleeve, to show you the fabric. I love how the netting is interspersed with strips of cloth!  Everything except for the sleeves is lined, though.

Close up of the collar.

And here’s one of my newest pride-and-joy….my still unfinished new spats!

They’re very tall (they come up to my knee) and have lacing up the back, plus a hidden zipper for convenience under the pinned-together flap.  The pinned-together flap will eventually close with buttons, and the lacing will NOT be yellow.    Yellow, however, shows up well for photographs!  I also will use some of the black vintage shirt ruffles (as shown on the blouse sleeves) to trim around the top of the spats.  And possibly (this is an idea I had late last night when I was supposed to be sleeping) I will sew pockets into the inner leg side of the spats.  Nice long narrow ones, that could be used to hold a dagger, or a fan!  Oh, and the fabric?  That used to be a pair of pants I picked up at Value Village!

Still to make:

1) One black ruffly underskirt.  This is partly finished.

2) One bustle. Not even started.

3) One black and white striped skirt to wear over the bustle. This will be the tricky one, as I only have one oddly-shaped piece of the striped fabric left to work with, and can’t buy any more!  Heh.  We’ll see how that works out!

4) One side holster of pockets.  Not a good description, I know, but I can’t find the picture I originally found for inspiration. 

5)  Finish the hat.  I finally got around to ordering the veiling I want.

6) Make a short cape?  I’m not used to costuming for winter events, and while it will be warm enough inside the various venues, I will be traveling by bus to and from the hotel. I do have a largish chunk of lovely faux fur that would be lovely and warm as a liner…if there’s enough.  I don’t have a clue about the outside of the cape.  Velvet?  It does have to be black, since I want everything on this costume to be either white or black!  And I don’t want to spend much money, because this won’t be something I wear very often, I don’t imagine….

7) And the wings.  Since it IS a faerie festival, I’m going to attempt a pair of copper wire wings.  Just small ones.  Something like these:

Which means that my hair has to be very short, and/or pinned up, so that they won’t get tangled up in any wigs of glory!
This naturally leads into the next subject:

The Hair

While I do want every thing on the costume to be black or white, I think I’m going to add a big splash of color with my hair.  I love steampunk outfits where the costume is relatively “proper” Victorian, but the hair is ‘punk’!  Plus, I’m really, really lazy and inept when it comes to “updo” hairstyles.

I’m thinking this:

I think the vivid splash of color will look smashing with an all B&W costume, the ‘inverted bob’ style won’t mess with the wings, and it would look cute with the hat.

And these, THESE are my stockings!

12/27/2009: The Hat is Finished!

I came up with what *I* think is an unusual and interesting idea – I put a working clock in the crown!

This is the front.  You can just barely see the clock hands on the left….

Side view, left side.  The clock has a second hand, so it’s pretty cool to see the hand sweeping around!  I may add numbers; I have to find the numbers I bought so I can see if I like them on the hat.

Side of hat, from the right.  This is the “girly” side, all veil and ribbon and black roses!

And here’s the back:

I made the hat yesterday, as well as this faux leather half mask for my brother:

I took a purchased mask base, trimmed off one eye section, and covered the mask in the faux leather.  The inside is lined with felt for comfort.  The steampunky eye patch is a simple .97 sink strainer!  I spray painted it black, touched it up with a little gold rub ‘n buff, then snugged in into the eye hole.  Because the strainer has so many large-ish holes, vision in that eye is hardly impared.  It’s pretty cool, actually.

Today, I finished the waist cincher.  If you were to unbutton the buttons, you’d open a flap with a hidden zipper, the better to easily and quickly get out of costume.  Plus, with the zipper to take the strain of lacing, the button holes won’t get pulled out of shape.  At the last moment, I added a watch pocket.  Plus, at the bottom right, you can see the clasp I’m going to use as a skirt-raiser.

Here’s the back view.  I couldn’t be more pleased with how it fits (it looks so much better on me than the dummy).  When I lace it tight, it feels extremely comfortable!

One more view, showing the pocket watch peeking out of the pocket. I need to figure out something cool to hang from the fob.  Possibly a miniature hourglass?  I’m beginning to think I’m going to call myself the “Mistress of Time”, since I seem to be adding more and more clock elements.  I’ll be a Time Fairy after I make the wings!


1/09/10 – Moving Right Along…

I’d say this one is a good 85% finished.  It’s notably lacking the jacket, the wings, and a few small details.  But it’s time for more pictures!

The skirt is done.  It’s two layers, and I didn’t make the top one.  I was lucky enough to find it at the Goodwill!  I added an underskirt/petticoat with a layer of ruffles and lace at the bottom.  This poofs it out a bit, and I could also wear it with the skirt “lifted” to display the ruffles.  For this costume, though, I have decided I like it best left long.  I have a fan clipped to the “skirt lifter” hardware in this picture.  The little whitish fluffy thing hanging from the middle is my watch fob.  There’s a chain, then a raven bead, then a bit of fur.

Side view.  Note the bustle.  I will get a picture of the actual bustle itself later, but I’m not quite done with it.

Back.  I really love the suspenders.  I’ve always wanted an outfit with suspenders!

Side view of my “hip pockets.  It clips onto the waist cincher via two D rings.  This is basically a half circle shaped bit of fabric, with three pockets sewn on, and then all sorts of “time tools” attached.  I have my scissors to cut time, my lenses to study it, my measuring stick to measure time, my keys to unlock it (and most of the keys have time/dream/sleep related words on them), my mirror, another watch, and several glass bottles with corks that I will fill with the “sands of time”.  I’m immensely pleased with how this looks – it even has a nice jingle when I walk.

Also done are the spats.  Gah, spats are fiddly to do, lots of bias-taping and button-holing, and grommet-setting!  But they turned out excellently, and will look better yet without rolled-up blue jeans and a proper pair of stockings!!!

Here’s a shot of the “secret” zipper!

And I even sewed a little pocket into the top of each spat…just perfect to hold my lipstick or other small essential!  (I have a quizzing glass in it right now).

Still to make:

1) The wings.  I’m going to buy the copper wire tomorrow.

2) The jacket.  My design has evolved from a simple cape to a much less simple jacket.  I went to see Sherlock Holmes, and a realized when I started playing with fabric that Holmes must have gotten stuck in my imagination!   I also rummaged through my fabric boxes and found something I had completely forgotten I had: the leftover yardage from my black “leather” pirate coat.  It’s quite pretty stuff, thin and drape-able, and stamped with a subtle floral design.  Perfect, and there’s just enough.

3) A new detachable collar.  I was happy with mine, until I saw this Etsy seller’s collar.  Mine will not be like this one, but it’s given me an idea of my own….

4) A hair fascinator. I got to thinking that my hat, while fairly secure for normal wear, is likely to be slipping around and bothering me during the concerts.  I’d rather be completely comfortable and able to move, rather than fussing about correcting a hat whenever it misbehaves!  So during the day, I’ll wear the hat.  During the night, I’ll switch to something smaller, more secure, and yet made of gorgeousness.  Still have zero idea when it’s going to look like, other than it will involve feathers, I suspect, and possibly/probably another working clock.

5) A mask.  Just because I’m always making them for OTHER people, and I want one myself.  And it IS called a ‘masquerade’.  One on a stick, though, or a tie-on one?  Still undecided….  I think I’m going to write words on it though, possibly this line from a poem I recently read: “Foolish clocks, all time is broken….”

Lots of pictures.

So I finished this costume right in the nick of time; I was still sewing the day before I was set to leave!  The jacket, alas, never did get finished, but it was just warm enough that it didn’t matter.  The only other fail was me losing my stockings.  I remember trying them on a few days before I needed to pack, but on the day I was packing?  No stockings ANYWHERE.  I still can’t find them.  Gah!  I just hope they’ll turn up by Steamcon, because I really, really do not want to shell out another $12 for another pair, and I don’t really like any of my “back-up stockings” with this outfit.  Where oh where could they have vanished to?????

But on to the pictures.

First, because this is a win/fail sort of situation, I’ll show you the bustle.

Since I made it using whatever I had at hand, and in a hurry (it was meant as more a test bustle than the real thing) it doesn’t look too bad, right?  It’s flexible and comfortable, able to compress to fit into taxis without a quibble.  Well, after the trip, it seems it’s a bit too flexible!  Here’s a pic from the back to show the damage:

Ye-up, several taxis later, that’s one squished bustle!  When I re-make it, I’ll have to put just a little less flex into it!  But I still love the basic design….  I may build some pockets/storage into it as well, because I’m always looking for clever ways to hide all the crap I have to lug around.  Why have empty air inside that thing, when you could have a place to hide your SHOPPING????

The collar.  Now this I couldn’t be more pleased with.  Total win.  First off, I removed the neck ruffle from the shirt, and added two buttons to the chest.

Second step, making the separate collar:

Back/side view:

And putting it together; the collar buttons onto the shirt’s buttons, like so:

The front panel of the collar then swings around and buttons in place:

And with the cravat in place:

I like how the lace band of the cravat tucks just underneath the top buttons!

And here’s a few pictures of the wings.  Can you believe they’re made with copper wire (the thick wire for the frame comes from Home Depot, it comes in several thicknesses), Mod Podge, and paper towels?  I made the wire frame, then made a “wing shape” and wove very thin copper wire inside the shape like veins.  Then I took two layers of paper towels, cut them to fit inside the frame, coated them with Mod Podge and stuck them together like a sandwich with the wire ‘veins’ on the inside.  I then coated the outside of the paper towels as well with Mod Podge.  Wet, they’re gloppy and not attactive.  Once they’re hung to dry, they turn into this gorgeous translucent effect.  You could give them a coating of sealant and leave them as-is, but I chose to paint them with a very thin metalic copper paint, touching up the ‘veins’ with a little black, silver, and gold paint for texture.  Once the paint dried, I sprayed them with sealant, and added some gears, chains, and some dangly bits.  They were a HUGE hit when I wore them; probably the most sucessessful accessories I’ve ever made!  And except for the mess of the Mod Podge, they were easy! I’m thinking of making a pair to put up on Etsy….

The Hair Fascinator:

I’m so friggin’ glad I made this; the hat (as I suspected) was fine for daywear, but while dancing at the concert?  Not so much; it would have been sliding all over and being a pain.  The Fascinator, on the other hand, stayed perfectly in place throughout 5 hours of dancing!

Front view.  Notice the clock hands.

Back view.  I love these keyholes that I found in the scrapbooking section of Michaels!

And to show you the size:

This was FUN to make – I’m definitely making more!


And that’s it for the picture catch-up; later this week, I’ll post pics from the event itself, including video of me in full dress.

Me Wearing It.

I didn’t post these pictures as quickly as I wanted, because I was waiting for a video of me wearing it.  My brother took the video with my camera, and I didn’t realize he’d held it the wrong way until too late: now I have a video that needs to be rotated, and no way of rotating it.  He put me off for weeks, saying he could rotate it, but when he finally got around to checking his computer, it seems he doesn’t have a program to rotate video either.  He says he can get the program from a friend, but I have no doubt at all he won’t get around to asking his friend for months, if ever.   😦   So I’m posting the stills, and hopefully someday I’ll have video too – if I either re-film it, or find someone willing to rotate the flipped video for me!

And lastly, here’s a link to my Bad Faeries Ball write-up, including pictures of people other than me, and some awesome Abney Park action!

Here’s one video at least….

I forgot I’d taken this; it’s another of my quick little “costume tours”. 

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