Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Quick and Dirty: Tricking out a Thrifted Skirt

Greetings, again.

Today I'd like to post a brief how-I-did-it piece, on tricking out a skirt I found at a thrift store that was closing (which meant the skirt cost me 90¢!)

Below is the skirt, which had an Italian label and is made from 100% cotton.  
Front (taken with flash)
Back, taken without flash
The skirt was pinned up entirely randomly, at different height levels.  It also had two braided ties (?) at the sides, made of the same skirt fabric, which were very long, and in these photos, can be faintly seen, clipped up at the top to loop them.  I considered keeping the braids, but they were at a height and angle which I found difficult to work with attractively.  Since I was going to be wearing a corset over the skirt, I ultimately decided the extra bulk was unnecessary, so I unpicked their stitches to remove them from the skirt (and have kept them just in case I find another use for them).
Skirt pinned to dressform under corset.  (Braided ties still attached)
After staring at the skirt awhile on the form, I decided I wanted to trim the hem, and definitely embellish and accentuate the pinned-up portions.  So I went and sorted through my accumulated trims and buttons, etc, and ended up starting at these selections:
Trim I have from previous projects & shopping trips
Buttons bought online
I went a bit nuts, and began pinning things to the skirt on the dressform.  (I was also working on the corset at the same time, and pinned things all over it too.  See separate entry earlier on the corset mod)
I decided to attach the fairly stiff, light tan & white striped, narrow ruffle trim (which was slightly elasticized) to the hem, and use the fancy buttons to accent (and reinforce) the pinned-up sections, with some of the plaid ribbon dangling down.  

Upon deciding this, I pinned the striped trim to the entire hem.  Turns out when laid out, the hemline was a huge rectangle.  Pinning elasticised trim is frustrating (and turned out to be pointless ... once the machine hit it, my pinning was moot, as the pins took up more trim than sewing did, so my pins were all off).  After I was done sewing, I measured the hem circumference ... 19 ½ feet of hem.  Yikes.  No wonder it took forever.  After sewing, the skirt looked like this:
I wasn't happy with how much the hem now stuck out, but realized, when worn under the corset, it wouldn't be so bad.  At this stage, it took me a week to figure out exactly where to go next, what to do with the pinned-up parts, and with the braided ties (which are still in place here).

Since I only had 6 of the large fancy buttons (3 really cool, 3 slightly less cool), I decided to use small brass buttons for the smaller, less prominent tucked-up bits.  And I decided to add some coppery-ish soft ribbon, in addition to the plaid ribbon, to accent the pinned-up parts.  When attaching the ribbons and buttons, I took care to use the opportunity to reinforce the tacking, since the fabric is thin and I was worried there would be tearing eventually in the original tacking.
So, the plain cheap 90¢ skirt ended up looking like this:
And like this, when worn with rolled stockings this April at Norwescon 34 in Seattle:
So, this goes to show you can buy a cheap skirt at a thrift store, and with trim on the hem, dangly ribbons, and buttons, trick it out a little.

Thanks for listening, and as usual, feel free to comment below!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Information for Locals - Vancouverites for Steampunk FB Group Google Calendar

Just for the information of any local Vancouverites in British Columbia, here is the Google Calendar I have created for the Facebook Group, Vancouverites for Steampunk.   

The calendar is to facilitate the planning of steampunk-related events for locals, and I will update it with all new events I hear of in the environs of Vancouver, Victoria, the of BC, and Seattle.  Feel free to bookmark this page, as this embedded calendar will automatically update.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

News: The Steam Wench Salon Page

Greetings good people,

I just wanted to share the news that the Steam Wench has opened the doors of her salon further, with an independent Page on Facebook.  This will provide a place for additional posts that may be less suited to this blog, and more importantly, the Salon on Facebook will allow folks a venue to ask questions, start discussions, and post pictures of their own projects.  I kindly ask that folks do not use the Salon to sell things or place links to shops, etcetera, as there is an abundance of places to sell one's work.  I encourage open discussion and sharing of ideas, projects, and DIY attitudes in my Salon, not commerce.  I will be obligated to remove all such posts I see.

Please use the above Facebook Salon to ask questions, share your projects, and start discussions. 

I will, of course, continue to post here as usual, no fear.   Links to new posts will also be placed in the Facebook Salon.

Thanks everyone for helping me to make Steampunk fun and accessible to everyone!

The Steam Wench

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Quick and Dirty: Steampunking a Basic Corset

Once again, I'd like to present a little "how-I-did-it" piece.  This one is on the decoration of a basic, plain black corset, to give it a bit more flair and flavour for steampunk outfits.  This was very much a quick and dirty modification, since the corset is one I've owned for years, and had been given to me a decade ago, by someone whom it no longer fit. 

The corset in it's basic state is a plain black satin corset, a bit worn but still very functional.
Here is the basic black corset ... and a pic of me wearing it back in 2006, as part of another outfit.

I decided it's time to dedicate it entirely to steampunk costuming, which gives me free rein to trick it out a bit.
I decided to added some decorative brass fripperies on the upper left and the lower right of the corset, and opted to use an existing leather belt I tend to use with the corset anyway, which has a leather keyfob (made earlier) and vintage keys.
Frippery number one is this exquisite brass plate I found, with intriguing pattern.  I have no idea what it was for, it was a box of scrap brass.  But it's very pretty with its cut-out design, and a little worn looking.  I added a decorative key charm to the bottom, pinned it to the corset, and liked the look.
I was going to add actual small brass gears I have to the corset at the right hip, but I realized that real gears are very sharp, and satin is not so forgiving.  So I decided instead to opt for decorative gears, which were part of a set called "Tim Holtz Sprocket Gears" which I found at Michaels Crafts. (see link here),default,pd.html   I am not one of those who gets my knickers in a twist over seeing steampunk stuff out there in the mainstream world.  Makes it a lot easier for those of us who are making things, to source parts inexpensively.  Anyway, I pinned the gears to the corset, figured out an attractive arrangement, and decided to add an old chain from a necklace to enhance it.  I added a fleur de lis pendant on the end of the chain.
Once I had everything in place as I wanted it, I handstitched everything in place. 
I did not add the keychain fob to the garter strap loop at the bottom left (as shown in above picture of everything pinned) ... but I haven't ruled that out as an option.  I would have to sew a new loop for the fob, as the existing satin loop is sewn into the hemming at the bottom.  Perhaps a nice black leather loop, to blend in.  This would be handy, as I then would not necessarily have to wear the leather belt.  Thoughts?

Below are two pictures of it on my dummy, finished.
And here is the final look, worn with three entirely different outfits:
Again, if anyone has a comment or suggestion, or an idea to improve upon this, by all means, please feel free to comment.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Is "Hat" Some Sort of Steampunk Euphemism?

Right then, ladies and gentleman, riddle me this.

I spent the long Easter weekend at a general science fiction / fantasy convention.  As it is very much the flavour du jour, there were a lot of Steampunks out and about at the Con, and I myself pretty much exclusively wore Steampunk.  Most of my outfits had hats.  And most of my hat-accompanied outfits had some cleavage.  Interestingly, when I was showing cleavage, men would compliment my hat.  Even men who weren't dressing Steampunk.  Even men who were working at the hotel where the Con was had.  Saying things such as "What a lovely hat."  "Ma'am, I have to say I admire your hat."  "My, your hat is quite charming."  These were men ... generally not steampunk men ... complimenting my hat. 

Intriguingly, they weren't always looking at my hat ... or looking me in the eye, for that matter.

I posit that, if you are staring at my cleavage and complimenting my hat ... you are not really admiring my hat.

So, I am wondering, has "I must compliment you on your lovely hat" become a euphemism for the less politically-correct, "My what lovely cleavage you have"?

Chapeau-Curious in Canada