Thursday, July 11, 2013

Scorching Summertime Steampunk

Well ... more neo-Edwardian costuming than steampunk, but then, summertime heat & humidity is less conducive to lots of brass and sweaty goggles.

Last summer, with two summer steampunk picnics looming, I realized none of my usual clothes were remotely suitable to an outdoor picnic in July & August in Vancouver.  My stuff was more appropriate to air-conditioned hotel conventions, not for lounging on grass in the heat and sunshine.  You try to lounge in a corset - I challenge you!

I decided this was a great opportunity to make some neo-Edwardian picnic gear.  Sans pattern.  Despite my very basic sewing knowledge.

And today's post is to show you what I came up with.  It wasn't optimal (I'm neither young nor lissome, which this outfit would have suited better), but it was cheap, moderately easy, comfortable (although the day I wore it was scorching) and looked okay.  (More on where I went astray later!)

I didn't have a lot of money to spend on the endeavor, so I did some mad cost-effective thrifting.  Below are the finds I came up with.  Today I will deal with the skirt, and I will post about the hat separately.
Above is some eyelet lace found thrifting.  It and the other items in the wee baggie were $2.  Below is a net curtain (with an Ikea label!) and some cheap curtains I found in a thrift store.
When I bought the curtains above, I thought ... hey ... it's a ready made skirt - already with ruffle at the hem!  I just need to get rid of the ugly lace back panels, sew them up the side seams, and gather them!

Now, in reality, what happened was I had to unpick all the seams (ALL THE SEAMS) so I could make maximum use of the limited fabric width.  I also unpicked the top folding hem that would have gone on the rod, so I had room for the gathering, and to make the waistband.  Waste not, want not.  

The ruffle was on the plain side. 
So I added the pre-ruffled eyelet trim I'd bought at a thrift store - turned out there was just enough to do the job!
And, since that was looking a little plain, I added another shorter layer of lace on top.
Ruffles added, I then trimmed the skirt so it would be just above the floor (when waistband was added) and sewed the panels together all the way it up one side seam, then partway up the other side (leaving an opening to get in and out of).  Then I pinned it to my dress model, along with a 1970's neo-Edwardian blouse I'd scored in a vintage shop for $25, to see where I stood.  I only had enough width for a relatively loose, light gather.
Since Edwardian skirts tended to have gauzy layers for interest, I decided to add netting as an overlayer, so I cut it to size, short enough that it would show the ruffles at skirt hem.  I added yet more lace to the net hem, and then gathered it at the waist.
I wasn't 100% happy with the look, but I was committed to it at this point.  I started playing with ideas for the top / hip area, and the waistline.
I very much liked the look of the first option, to the left, with the sleek lace panel at the hips.  However, a bit of playing told me that arranging that flat panel of lace sleekly on a curve, so it would drape nicely over my hips when standing, and accommodate me when I sat, was easier said than done.  It looked great on the dummy, I couldn't figure out how to do it properly on me, with my limited sewing skills.  So irksome.  

So I opted for the right-hand version, though opting for a waistband rather than a sash.  It was easy to sew on top of all the gathered layers, and easy to close with sturdy hooks and eyes.  

And here is the final product, worn with another cotton blouse (courtesy Value Village), and the hat that will follow in a later post, at the First Annual Brass in the Grass picnic, in July 2012.  In future, I will not likely use this belt, but may design a sash for it.  I also may tear it down and remove the netting (which got a bit sapped in the tree-climbing).  
Picnic photo courtesy of Sam Quo Vadis: 
(my cropping on the second photo)

No comments:

Post a Comment