Friday, 21 June 2013

Steampunkish pirate part 2

final costume

I thought I’d start with a pic of the costume as it stands now and then follow with a series of ‘how it’s built’ pics. I wanted to avoid cogs and keys - I love it on other people, you know the ones who make an enormous effort and look amazing, but I can’t afford the level of detail involved and I think just chucking a few cogs on stuff can easily look rubbish. Anyway it’s a subtle steampunkery I’m going for but feel free to offer any advice!


Starting with the petticoat and ruffly shirt (both from charity shops) and the bustle…

skirt side

Then on with the skirt – this is also a charity shop skirt which has large pleated gores. I just tacked sections up at regular intervals to give it that pouffy look. The skirt was too big so I put a large pleat in the back too. This helps to accommodate the bustle but I think it needs a bit of attention or maybe something extra, like a silky red something with tassels draped around?

skirt front

And from the front, ok it needs ironing!

waist front

Then a crazy tight cinch belt. That’s pure elastic folks, with velcro at the back and corset-look pleather at the front. Did I mention it’s tight? I have a 29 inch waist normally but in this thing? More like 25!

belt front

And then an extra added belt – this was really long so I cut out a section, unpicked the stitching, and re-sewed it back together much smaller.

belt sidebustle belt back

A couple of cheeky side and bustle shots – is the bustle too big do you think?

final costumefinal costume back

And last but not least - a corset back waistcoat, my previously mentioned hat, and a little bag for my phone and cash. The waistcoat is from ebay and the bag from a charity shop.

Because I had some of the things in my to-do pile and stash, the whole thing cost me no more that £30.

I also have a pair of stripy plus-fours I found on ebay because, if you remember, I HAVE TO ROW A BOAT IN THIS! Oh dear, I think I might have trouble but do you know what? I’m gonna try! It’s for charity!


Monday, 17 June 2013

Making a bustle pad, a little tutorial…

If you’ve ever made a cushion, making a bustle pad is easy! I need one for my steampunkish pirate costume so making one was the way to go. I made it from calico, ribbon and some thick wadding I had in my stash so it was cheap and only took about half an hour.


First measure around the back part of you hips and transfer this measurement to your chosen fabric. Then draw out your bustle shape, notice the slight curve on the side that will touch the body. Cut out two of these.

wadding 2

Then cut out your wadding. I used four layers of thick polyester quilt wadding in the end but you might want a bigger or smaller bustle so you can experiment when you come to stuff it. These must be about an inch smaller than your calico all round.


Next take a length of ribbon that is long enough to tie around your waist but with long ends for adjustment. Pin this along the straight edge of one of the pieces of calico. The ribbon will be on the inside when the bustle pad is finished.


Sew the ribbon on and then pin the long ends of the ribbon to the other side of the piece of calico. It is important to pin the ribbon well away from the edges so that they don’t get caught when you stitch the two pieces together.

Now pin the other piece of calico face down. You must make sure that the ribbon ends are on the inside of the sandwich but that the ribbon sewn along the edge is on the outside at this stage.

sew on ribbon

Now sew all around the edge, leaving a couple of inches open so you can insert your wadding.

all sewn up

Turn the whole thing inside-out and check your ribbon hasn’t got caught in any stitching. Press flat and insert your wadding. Before you sew up the hole it’s a good idea to try it on to see if you have enough or too much stuffing!


I sewed an extra row one inch from the flat side to help it sit better.

And you’re all done! I’ve seen some with an extra, smaller pad above the larger one. I’ve also seen some so elaborate you’d be happy to wear them outside your clothes (well, almost)

Mine is not beautiful, but it will do the job!


Monday, 10 June 2013

Steampunkish pirate…


In July I’ll be doing the York Rotary Club dragon boat race with my work colleagues! (sponsor me here!) We’re going as the ‘college crew’ and since everyone goes in fancy dress, we’ll be going as pirates. Maybe not the most original idea, but definitely one both the girls and the boys could get behind!

We’ve all been given a hat that looks like this:

m1myITeM2cnPCxAKCAB4eZwHat available from Ebay here.

But I wanted to make mine a bit more special. It was a bit boring, and waaaaaay too big. I thought I might be able to make it smaller and steampunk it up a bit while I was at it!

I browsed steampunk piratey hats on the internet and found a winner on Dragonfly Designs by Alisa, a wonderful blog full of intricate and beautiful steampunk clothing Alisa makes herself.

She had a bowler hat which she had made smaller as part of an airship pirate costume so I decided to copy her design and adapt it to fit this hat.

Cut hat

First I cut off the crown to leave just the brim. I then cut through the brim at the front and wrapped it around my head until it was snug. After marking how much I needed to remove, I did some measuring and cut an equal amount from each side at the front.


Alisa had used eyelets to fasten the brim back together. The ones I had were shiny shiny brass – too shiny. To get an aged look, mum suggested I chuck them in some bleach and do you know what? It worked!

Eyelet brim

Then I hammered like a demon to attach the eyelets to the brim. The next bit is important…

Glue hat

I didn’t take a photo, but I laced the brim up as tight as it would go and then glued the crown back on. If you don’t lace up the brim, the crown won’t be in the right place.

glue hat 2

When it was dry, I removed the poppers from the sides with pliers – because I had shortened the brim they no longer met to hold the sides up. In their place I cut two slits about half an inch apart right through the brim and crown and used ribbon to tie them together.


With a few feathers and a votes for women rosette (also made by me from ribbon and a badge – don’t you think female pirates would have been Suffragettes? I mean if there had been female pirates in 1913? I do!), I think it looks the part!


Stay tuned for the rest of my costume!