Because all experiences are valuable.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Steampunk Saloon Girl Costume

I am "off" for Christmas Break, which is kind of a laugh because of the volume of stuff I have to do (as we all do at Christmas), but I want to catch up on a few blog things.

The post with details on my Green Jeannie costume from last year at DragonCon is so popular, that I promised way back to give details of my Patriotic Steampunk Saloon Girl and how I constructed it.

First pictures so you know what I'm talking about.

the jacket I purchased. It was from the American Icon collection which came from the American Idol TV show. The hooks that are the closure are a part of the jacket, but I wanted them to show, so I pinned the lapels back with antique pins. It also allowed more of the corset to show. I have a "real" (expensive!) corset that MJL bought me at the Renaissance Fest, but I also have a lot of corsets from Frederick's of Hollywood. They are definitely more costume and not authentic, but one can also afford to have a bunch of them, as they run from $ 40 to 60, depending on the fabric and pattern.

Doing research, I found that fishnets didn't exist at the time of the Old West frontier, they actually wore cotton or wool stockings. Well...I wasn't wearing cotton or wool to DragonCon. I chose these nude hose from Target. They had a woven pattern in the nude color and then the black dots. My boots are actually a very dark brown.

The skirt I made. It starts with a pattern, which I shortened. This is the pattern. Even if they don't make this one any more, you can see what sort of thing to look for. It is a full circle skirt with a yoke (like the two on the bottom). The yoke is very important. A full circle without a yoke will make you look like you are in a poodle skirt. If you shorten it, you will look like a 60s majorette. Plus the yoke allows you to attach things and stays sleek.

Here are the fabrics used. They were all from JoAnn fabrics, so you don't really have to always spend a lot of money or go to a special fabric store to make costumes.

The patriotic fabric was a big inspiration.
When I saw that fabric, I knew I had to do something with it.
The plaid is red, blue, green and a homespun looking brown.

This is a cotton quilting print.
The red was just right, and the background was cream. I didn't want any white, because white was
very expensive to obtain back then.
Less expensive fabrics had that homespun look of
natural color cotton.

This one was a bridal fabric.
It had the scalloped edge that you see on the skirt
already as part of the fabric. I got it on clearance for 8$ a year and I only bought 2/3 of a yard, so very
cheap to add a really nice element.

 I did use a modern zipper.
One, for convenience and time savings.
Two, because I've made this pattern before as a real skirt and I like the zipper in the back. It adds stability to the yoke. I went through my collection of buttons and pulled out all the metal ones to add as accents.
 I purchased keys and chains and these accents
at Micheal's in the scrapbooking section.
In the full picture, the antique gold watch is
real and it belonged to my great great grandmother.
 The tiny hat started as a $1.99 teddy bear hat from
JoAnn fabrics. They come black made by Darice.
I spray painted it bronze gilt.
I found a belt at a thrift store for one dollar.

It was a size 2x, so it had a lot of  these square metal
pieces. After putting two long pieces with two squares each on each side of the skirt, I had one left over. I had to sew it to the top of the hat, because even metal glue wouldn't hold it to the felt.
 I did hand gathering at two points in the front of the skirt, and more to the sides.

I did it by hand with a running stitch. It looked like a girl might have done back then.

I really wanted the natural unevenness of hand work.

The ribbon tail was just something extra. Most of the time it didn't show, but I always keep adding little things on a costume till
I just feel that it is finished.

 Feathers and embellishments all from Micheal's

You can see how it is constructed.
 This natural cotton is two layers. Stiffened with interfacing. I glued on on, attached the headband with hot glue. Reinforced that with ribbon. Covered that with the second piece of natural cotton. I could have spray painted it, but with all my hair...I didn't bother.
Originally, I thought I would do something in
Red and blue that perfectly matched the costume.

In working with the patriotic fabric, it has a rosy pink element in the background of some scenes and on the cheeks.

I just decided I wanted to pick up that element in the hat and also the neckpiece, which...if you look back,
is constructed of the buckle from the dollar belt!
Pink velvet ribbon is the accent on the choker, and it ties in the back with brown grosgrain ribbon.

I have to say, I loved this costume. I felt fabulous, and I received so many compliments from DragonCon attendees. It was comfortable. My favorite comments were from fellow seamstresses. They liked the
idea, the design and the execution. That's the best feedback!!

The skirt is layered panels that are really all curtain valance treatments in their construction. I used to make a lot of curtains, so I used those techniques. The front panel is a pleated center jabot, and the back lace panels
are trapezoid shaped side jabot panels. It is easy to google simple directions for these once you see what I did. The side jabot face each other instead of facing out as the would on a window.

The rear swag is just done like a long scarf valance would be over a curtain rod. I just did the side gathering with ribbon instead of the way it would hang over a rod.

Hope this inspires you if you are looking to do a steampunk short skirt!

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