Thursday, August 22, 2013

Steam and Serenity

About two years ago, I made an outfit that I could wear to a multitude of geek events. I settled on steampunk, as it's nice and versatile, and turned to early Victorian designs for inspiration. The inspiration dress I spotted via Idlewild Illustree, who introduced me to a dress housed by the Kyoto Costume Institute. I lifted the buttons, pleated front, and sleeve treatment from the dresses. My difference is using an opaque fabric and brown highlights, plus a slightly different skirt treatment.

The bodice is interlined in organdy and lined in an old sheet. The shirt has a flat front and is cartridge pleated in the back. It also has a wide facing of the same old sheet.

I like my steampunk to be subtle, so instead of the cliche of goggles and gears, I used metallic trim. I got bronze colored fabric that I used to make piping, bias strips and button covers. The bodice is edged in the piping, as is all the seams in the back. Bias strips became the focus of the sleeve decoration. As a final touch, I bought a bronze colored flower pin and fastened it to the center top of the dress.

In the name of being thorough, I made some early Victorian underwear to go with  the clothes. The short of it is that the corded petticoat and the corset were really labor intensive, and in the end I found out that I can lace the corset edge to edge and still slouch in it. Grr.

There's one thing that vexes me about this dress. The back fits me horribly. I quickly realized that this was because, despite many careful fitting sessions, it was fitted over a crappy corset. I know that this can be easily remedied by taking apart refitting the bodice. Since this would mean almost completely dismantling the dress and sewing it back together, I'm in no hurry to do this.

Fortunately, this is more of a science fiction/fantasy piece, so it doesn't have to be molded on like a proper Victorian gown.

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