With Steamcon II fast approaching, I had to figure out what all I could get done before the big day (remember, I only had about 3 weeks from start to finish until Steamcon, including ordering patterns, finding fabrics and corset supplies, and creating accessories, so time was of the essence.)
I ended up deciding that since this was Steam Punk and not strictly historical recreation, I could get away with no bodice. Not creating a bodice for my outfit also had an added bonus of allowing the hard work I’d done on my corset and chemise to be visible. Win. 🙂 So that left me with skirts and accessories. Before I get into the nitty gritties, wanna see the final product that I ended up wearing to Steamcon? Of course you do. 🙂
Ta da! Steamcon II was held at a great hotel down by the SeaTac Airport with a beautiful indoor atrium area. Wonderful for photo taking. Thank you to my friend Aidan for the lovely photos! 🙂
The first project I tackled was a long black skirt to go over the bustle. I figured black would be a good staple, something that I could use in the future with other pieces if I needed to. I used Truly Victorian’s 1885 Four Gore Underskirt pattern with pleated back, and added pleating at the hem. The fabric was a black home decorating fabric with a bit of a sheen, picked up again at Jo Ann’s. This fabric was lovely, but was tricky to keep pleated. I ended up making my own pleater board out of card stock, but that’s a subject for another post. I used three rows of top stitching about an inch and a half down from the top edge of the pleats to hold them to the edge of the skirt, but they refused to stay up. When I re-wore this skirt for Steamcon III I revisited this skirt and tacked the top of each pleat up onto the skirt by hand for a more orderly appearance.
For an overskirt I found some chocolate brown smocked taffeta and used Truly Victorian’s Waterfall Overskirt pattern, shortened by about 4 inches in front and back. I used a beautiful desaturated gold/tan fabric I found at Hancock Fabrics for the lining and front ruffle. I was so stretched for time by this point that I was still sewing the ruffle on to the overskirt by the morning of the convention. I also found that using ribbon under the front of the overskirt to tack down some of the pleats helped with the look of the skirt immensely. On the day of the convention my friend Jean added two tiny hot pink bows to match my hair. 🙂
Me, Jean, and Claire showing off our awesome bustles. Fun Fact – Claire’s skirt and overskirt were made using the same base pattern as my skirt and overskirt. Huzzah for the magic of fabrics and pattern alteration. 🙂
All that was left was to accessorize! I bought a small black felt top hat at the Ben Franklin Crafts, and Jean helped to cover the hat in matching black satin left over from my skirt and decorate with feathers and ribbon to match my corset. We made asymmetrical stretch lace gloves using a zig zag stitch and some black stretch lace, and made a choker from leftover fabric and lace scraps and a broach from the craft store.
The morning of the convention I added some long pink curled extensions to my hair, and that was that! Jean and I wield a mean curling iron. 😉
Claire introduced me to The League of Steam at the convention, so I had to get a photo with Zeddediah the Zombie. 🙂
The next project in preparation for Steamcon was to make myself a bustle. After having such great success with Truly Victorian patterns with my corset, I went to them again for the bustle, using TV101 and their precut bustle wire. This whole bustle went together in about a day and a half, but it would’ve gone much faster if my sewing machine had a ruffleing foot. I think gathering each ruffle was what took me the longest (it was murder on my finger tips, too.) But the result looked great, and you can’t see the hoop wire at all once it’s all under skirts.
The bustle is made to be hemmed a few inches higher than your outer skirts to reduce the likelyhood of stepping on it when going up stairs and the like, but it looks a little silly when worn all alone. 🙂 I was also very pleasantly surprised at how easily the bustle collapses for storage and ease of sitting.
Working on the bowtie and bolero for my wedding had been a great kick start project for reteaching myself how to sew. It had gotten me to blow the dust off my inherited Bernina 1130 sewing machine, and reacquainted me to reading sewing patterns.
To set the stage, it was early October, 2010. Stu and I had just returned from our Honeymoon – we rode the Rocky Mountaineer Scenic Railroad from Calgary to Vancouver, BC. It was fantastic and very relaxing, but by the time we got back I was itching for another sewing project. (You can take the girl away from sewing but you can’t take sewing away from the girl?) I didn’t want to accidentally stop sewing for another 5 years like had happened when I left home for college. 🙂
Conveniently, Steamcon was only a month away! Steamcon is a Steampunk convention, held once a year outside Seattle, Washington. My friend Jean had just finished up making her first corset for the convention using the TV110 1880’s Corset pattern from Truly Victorian. Jean’s corset looked fantastic, so with a bit of help pinning and fitting, I set to work on making one for myself.
Ta daa! I didn’t even have to make any pattern alterations after measuring myself and making a muslin mock up which is very rare and super fantastic. I used home decorating fabric from Jo Ann’s for the outside of the corset, lined with cotton denim for strength, and edged in light yellow ribbon. At the time I didn’t know how to make or use bias tape to finish edges, so I made due. 🙂
The chemise and drawers were made using Simplicity 9769. This pattern was great in terms of long term strength – there are no raw edges on the chemise because every seam is flat felled, but I do wish the sleeves were handled differently. They’re lovely, but they have a lot of bulk. I may make a new sleeveless chemise someday. The lace is actually multiple pieces layered on top of each other to make a wide band around the neckline and sleeve cuff.