Starting Out In Steampunk: Part 3 -Misconceptions You Should Probably Know About Your New Lifestyle and Friends

YOU’RE STILL NOT TALKING ABOUT CLOTHES!
I Know! We’ll get to it!

So, having found yourself a nice community to join and a group of like-minded people to hang out with, you’ll probably want to start hanging out with them! Thing is, there are a lot of preconceptions about Steampunks and what they do, so before you go running in, it is worth considering some of the top rumours that you may have heard.

Myth 1:
There Are No Rules in Steampunk

I’ll start with the anomalous one first, because this one is the perhaps the single most misused piece of information about Steampunk!
In the UK, the full saying is “There are no rules in Steampunk, except Be Splendid”, though sometimes there is a byline added which goes, “Steampunks are accepting of everyone”. And in many ways, this saying is true, but there is a certain element of ambiguity about it. There are no rules as to how you should dress, or wear your make-up, or do your hair. There are no limits on age, religion, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin or political leanings. There are no expectations for you to like certain music, films, art or artists thereof.
HOWEVER… There are certain rules that Steampunks expect you to abide by without actually having to tell you what they are, and that’s where the “Be Splendid” comes into it. These rules, which I like to refer to as the Four Commons, are common law (and other legal regulations), common courtesy, common decency and common sense rules. The expectation here is that you behave in a manner befitting of a “Splendid” community and do nothing to damage the good reputation that they are trying to build – basically, obey the law, don’t do anything stupid or dangerous, and don’t act like an arse. Just because Steampunks are accepting of everyone, doesn’t mean they are accepting of bad behaviour – I myself have witnessed many examples of bad, disruptive, stupid and downright dangerous behaviour that people have then attempted to justify by saying “you can’t have a go at me, there are no rules in Steampunk and you have to accept everyone as they are”. No, actually, we do not. Steampunks are accepting of everyone into the community – we will allow anyone to join in with our lifestyle – but we do NOT have to tolerate bad/dangerous behaviour, harassment of any kind or actions that willingly or intentionally cause offence to another party. Certain groups also have more specific rules that they expect you to abide by, as do Facebook groups, community websites and forums. You are expected to abide by these rules, because they are there for a reason – safety, legal protection, and to keep the group a pleasant place to be.

So the bottom line is, while Steampunk does not have rules regarding lifestyle, common likes, design, etc, societal, cultural, legal and behavioural laws still apply.

Myth 2:
Steampunk is dress-up for Middle-Class Elites and people with money

The short response to this is “Ummm… No”. But there are two parts to this.

Firstly, Steampunk is not limited to people of a certain social class, and it certainly doesn’t require money to be involved in. Many of my friends live on limited budgets and either charity shop, upcycle or make their clothes. I have only one family of friends that I would consider “well off” (and make no mistake, they worked bloody hard for it) and the others are all regular, everyday people. Teachers, H&S Officers, Nurses, Self Employed, Tech Support and Civil Servants, just to name a few, and none of them particularly high up the pay ladder. They save up for events that they want to go to, and don’t attend those that they can’t afford. Simple logistics.
The idea that Steampunks are all wealthy stems from the fact that a lot of the big events can become quite expensive, but this fact is the same anywhere. Putting on an event costs money, and the organisers can’t be expected to foot the bill all by themselves – that simply wouldn’t be fair. So ticketing comes in to play, and Steampunk is not the only lifestyle that does this. Gothic festivals, Lolita events, Conventions and gigs all cost money, so what organisers of Steampunk events are doing is no different to what other lifestyles and groups have been doing for decades already.

On top of this, there are many outfits that are lavish and extravagant, but don’t let their opulence fool you. That amazing jet pack was made from a recycled wooden case and some bits of metal rescued from a skip. Those huge glimmering wings? EVA foam, which can be bought in stores like JTF for £8 for 10 square metres, and a gold spray paint. That stunning dress with the full skirts? That material came from a bargain bin as an end-of-line roll! Gems, pearls and embellishments are often plastic and people spend months making their outfits look that good on a tiny budget. Not everything that looks expensive actually is, so don’t be fooled into thinking that people are rich just because they look it. And even if an outfit is actually expensive, don’t just take it for granted that they bought it that way. I know some people who spent years making a single outfit, just because it was going to cost them a lot of money. I myself have an outfit that I have been working on for a year and a half, simply because I have to take my time collecting the materials.
Talking about clothing, there’s the part about “dress-up”. Steampunks may become offended if you refer to Steampunk as “dressing up” or “Cosplay”, because for many of them, it’s not! Steampunk is a lifestyle, just like Goth, Punk, Lolita, Hippie, New Age or Nudism, and referring to it otherwise basically belittles their choice to live in a certain way. Sure, you can dress like a Steampunk and not be a Steampunk, just like you can dress like a surgeon and not have a medical degree. But actual Steampunks may take offence if you refer to them as Cosplayers and people playing dress up, so it’s not worth taking the risk on the off-chance that they’re actually just Cosplaying. Don’t worry too much if you do slip up, most real Steampunks will laugh it off and correct you in a gentle fashion, but if you do actually hurt a Steampunk’s feelings, please be sure to apologise!

Myth 3:
It’s not Steampunk if it doesn’t have cogs/goggles/insert other random Steampunk visual icon here…

This one is just flat-out untrue, full-stop. End of.

Sure, cogs and goggles are something of a visual icon in Steampunk, and it is very easy to get dragged into the idea that the only way something can be Steampunk is if it features one or other of these items in some way. The fact is, there are many Steampunk visual icons, including but not limited to: airships, penny farthings, kraken/squids/octopi, top hats, moustaches, teapots and cups, silver teaspoons and Queen Victoria. Yet, it is still possible to have a Steampunk outfit that features a grand total of none of these items. Just because they are icons, does not mean you have to use them, and to be completely honest, after a while, the inclusion of such items can feel like a cliche. Where is the “punk” and individuality if everyone is wearing goggles and stitching cogs to their hats? (That being said, I will concede that cogs makes great buttons!) A great many Steampunks have crafted outfits that simply wouldn’t make sense with goggles, and adding a cog for the sake of having one isn’t the way forward. But then again, I have never been a fan of functionless cogging.

Myth 4:
You must wear Steampunk clothes to go to a Steampunk event

While dressing the part does help, there is no need to dress Steampunk to go to a Steampunk event, particularly if the event is something like a small local meeting. Many Steampunk gatherings I have been to have included numerous “Steam-curious” and newcomers who have not gotten around to creating a complete outfit yet. Many people feel shy or uncomfortable about attending a Steampunk event and not wearing a complete outfit, but the community as a whole understands that sometimes it simply isn’t practical for someone to go all-out on their first, second, or even third event. People have money problems, health issues, travel concerns and all sorts that could potentially put a dampener on their ability to don a full outfit, and the majority of Steampunks you meet will be completely accepting and sympathetic of your situation.

That being said, you may come across a few who try to tell you that it’s “not done” to attend a Steampunk event in non-Steampunk attire and that you should “make more of an effort or just not bother coming”. This kind of behaviour to anyone attending a Steampunk event, Steam-curious or not, is generally frowned upon, as it goes against the ethos of being accepting.

There is absolutely nothing to prevent you from attending a Steampunk event in “civvies”, unless the event specifically requires a certain dress code. If this is the case, the event will usually say so. There may also be limitations to what kind of Steampunk items you can wear or take, and this will also be mentioned on the promotional material.

Myth 5:
Steampunks must eat cake, drink tea and imbibe gin

This is again a bit of a silly one that seems to pop its head up every now and then. Some people seem to have this belief that Steampunks exist purely on gin, tea and cake. Fact of the matter is… we don’t! I also eat pizza and drink Irn Bru!

While I can’t say for a fact where this idea stems from, I can guess that it derives from the tea party culture that surfaced in the Victorian era, where tea was served in delicate, fancy china cups and tiny sandwiches and cakes were the norm. Rest assured, you are not required to partake in any of these items if you choose not to! The inclusion of these kinds of small gatherings as part of Steampunk culture was pretty much a given, considering how popular they were at the time of their initial inception. But the inclusion of tea, gin and cake as a Steampunk staple is more of a piss-take than a serious belief – the idea started as a myth but has since been adopted as a fun way of taking the mickey out of ourselves and encouraging others to join in our silliness (“come to the Dark Side, we have cake“, that sort of thing!).

I myself am not a fan of gin (I prefer a good Scottish Single Malt!), though I am particular to a lovely cup of Earl Grey and a slice of Mr Gearing’s Chocolate and Cherry cake. My husband is an occasional gin-drinker, a lover of Gold Blend and cannot even be near Mr Gearing’s Ginger Cake without inhaling the whole thing! Our friend is a coffee-lover, beer-drinker and prefers biscuits to cake. What I am trying to say is, don’t feel as though you have to partake in any kind of food or beverage that you don’t want to. It’s your choice, and nobody will (or at least, they shouldn’t) try to force you otherwise.

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So, those are some of my top myths about Steampunk! I have neglected to include my favourite myth, simply because the whole concept is incredibly complex, and could have an entire post of its own. Perhaps I will delve into it some other time.

Are there any myths you’ve heard about Steampunk that you’d like clearing up? Perhaps someone has said something to you and confused you a little? Or are you just looking for a bit of a giggle? Why not send me some questions, myths or little snippets and I’ll have a chat about them some time in the future?

Steampunk Mermaid WIP: Top

I have almost completed the construction of the top for the mermaid, and it has been surprisingly difficult, considering the top itself is made from only two large pieces!

What has really been challenging has been the neck and armhole facings. I have never had to make facings before, and I was having some difficulty getting them the right way round and up! I also think that my interfacing was too stiff. I used medium-weight as it was all I had, but for this kind of thing I could probably have gotten away with a light-weight or fine interfacing to maintain a more flexible hold.

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The photo above shows the top before the armhole facings went in, but you can see the neckline facing very clearly. The  bust ruffle has been stitched in place, but not fixed into it’s final shape yet.

As an addition to the pattern, I have included a bust ruffle and an off-the-shoulder type of sleeve made from the organza seen in the previous WIP here. As I am taking my inspiration from Disney’s The Little Mermaid, I wanted to include some hint to the seashell bra, which is why the top is purple. However, I wanted to add some hint to the shape of the bra, and short of actually using seashell cups, which to me was a little too cliche and over the top, this was the closest I could come. The ruffle has been stretched out at the sides, but gathered in the middle, giving the illusion of widening channels, much like the shape of a clam. Because the outfit is supposed to be on the theme of an elegant evening attire, I added the sleeves for aesthetics.

Unfortunately, I discovered that I had sewn one of the sides of one sleeve upside down, so it is now twisted and really quite uncomfortable! Having unpicked it, I now only need to resew that sleeve, tack the facings in place and finish the lower hem to complete the top.

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In this picture you can see the twist in the sleeve

Starting Out in Steampunk: Part 2 – Finding Other Steampunks

“WAIT! STOP! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? YOU’RE TELLING US HOW TO MEET OTHERS BEFORE YOU’VE COVERED CLOTHES OR ANYTHING ELSE!!”

Yes. Yes I am. Why? Because clothes do not a Steampunk make! You can meet other Steampunks without going all-out in the outfit department. And any good Steampunk will still accept you for what you are – new to the movement. In fact, by getting out and meeting people first, you will find it a whole lot easier to compose your first outfit – you will be able to get ideas from the people around you and they will be more than willing to offer their advice about where to pick up a good bargain.

So, how do you go about finding like-minded individuals?

I was quite lucky in that a friend of mine had been trying to convince me to go to the pub with her and meet her friends for months. I had always said “no” because at the time I was suffering with some severe anxieties – large crowds of people still make me incredibly nervous and I don’t really like talking with strangers that I haven’t been introduced to by someone else. However, one day, I bit the proverbial bullet and went to the pub. I didn’t really know what was going on, I knew only that these people met at seven thirty every Wednesday. And that was how I first met the Steampunk Society.

Now, not everyone can be as lucky as I was and have a friend who is already in the “scene”. So where do you go?

Go Out and About

Well, firstly, keep your eyes peeled for Steampunks out and about. Generally speaking, Steampunks won’t mind if you approach them and ask about their clothes or where they meet. In fact, most would be happy to chat to you about local groups! So if you spot a group out and about in your local area, don’t be afraid to approach them and ask.
You can also ask in Alternative Fashion stores if they know of any groups that meet in the area. Small local stores, in particular independent alternative retailers, tend to be more involved in the local communities than chains, so it is always worth popping in to talk. Other shops to try asking around in include charity shops (where Steampunks frequently purchase items), vintage stores, pubs and cafes or tea rooms.

Social Media and Forums

Not so big on the wandering around town? Live in a village or hamlet away from the hustle and bustle? (Pardon the pun!) Another great way to meet Steampunks is to get yourself on Social Media and Forums. There are hundreds of great sites out there that will allow you to connect with other Steampunks from all over the world. Facebook immediately springs to mind, with groups such as the British Steampunk Community, Brass Goggles and Steampunk Canada all welcoming new members. If you type “Steampunk” followed by the name of your town, or vice versa, you will usually find something in the search results. Otherwise, simply join a national group and ask if anyone knows of a group near you!

On the subject of Brass Goggles, forums are also a great place to meet people and ask questions. Operating in a similar but less time-consuming way to Social Media, forums can be easily dropped in and out of without missing any of the important parts of the conversation, so I recommend finding a few good ones to join. Brass Goggles is generally the go-to, though Steampunk Empire is also a nice place to hang around.

Newspapers and ‘Zines

You can also do a Google search for Steampunk “newspapers”, e-zines, social blogs and to-your-inbox newsletters, such as The Steampunk Journal, Steampaper, Steampunk R&D and The Steampunk Chronicle. Many of these Steampunk cultural sites have search pages dedicated to finding local groups, so they are always worth looking into.

Bloggers

It is also worth checking out individual bloggers, such as myself! I met Mala Foxx online because her blog, Adventures with Mala, came up in my feed, and one day I decided to message her about a post she had written that I wanted to use as the basis for a presentation I wanted to do. We’ve kept in touch, and she’s awesome! If you already have a blog, simply go to the search function on the homepage and seek out Steampunk bloggers – there will be many, I can assure you! I just googled “Steampunk blogs” and came back with Steampunk Scholar pretty much immediately!

Magazines

Steampunk Magazines are actually quite few and far between, the only significant ones that I have managed to find are Steampunk Magazine (which will shortly be shutting up shop) and Gearhearts, which focuses primarily on art, photography and literature. Sometimes you may find notable groups or events mentioned in these magazines, but they are unlikely to go to local-group level. Inevitably, you may not find these much help in actually meeting and finding other Steampunks, but they can provide some great conversation starters!

These links are by no means a comprehensive list to where to go to meet other Steampunks, and I’m sure that there are some that I have missed. If so, I’m sorry!

The point is, finding local Steampunks is actually a lot easier than you might think! You may believe yourself the only one, but you will be surprised at how many Steampunks there actually are the world over!

Starting Out in Steampunk:Part 1 – What Is Steampunk Anyway?

Featured Image: Time Travellers and Extraordinaires – An exhibition and book by Samuel Metcalfe. Image by Fair Visions Photography

 One of the first questions Steampunks often get asked, is “What is Steampunk?”. And I completely understand why; to the casual observer, the whole idea of Steampunk can seem really rather odd. But once the bafflement has passed, most people find themselves curious about this bunch of spiffingly-dressed eccentrics, and they inevitably approach to ask the question. “What is this?”.

It’s a simple enough question. But the problem is, there is no simple answer for it. Let me try to explain why.

At it’s core, Steampunk is a sub-culture born from literary fiction featuring Victorian and alternate-history themes; the term “Steampunk” was coined in 1987 by K.W. Jeter as a general term to describe works of fiction written by himself, James Blaylock and Tim Powers. It was supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek variant of cyberpunk, but the term quickly gained momentum in general use.
The primary aesthetics of Steampunk are heavily influenced by Victorian Britain, American Wild West, steam-power, and retro-futuristic technology. It also dips it’s toes into the waters of mystical fantasy, space exploration, horror and speculative historical fiction.
From it’s humble beginnings as a nameless sub-genre of science-fiction pre-1987, Steampunk has evolved into a buzzing cultural phenomena supporting fashion design, artistic style, music, literature, interior design, product design and even architecture. Steampunk also regularly stands by the ideals of “be splendid” (treating everyone with respect and dignity), supporting small businesses, re-use/recycle/upcycle and promoting creative industries.

But that’s not really the end of it. It’s not even the beginning of it. Let’s put it this way: while the base ethic remains the same, the “soul” of Steampunk is a completely different thing for different people. The adage goes “Ask ten Steampunks what Steampunk is, and you’ll get 100 different answers”. And they aren’t joking!

The reality of Steampunk, is that it is mutable. It changes based on the feelings of the person at the time. It is a culture, a fashion, art style, music and a social movement. It’s an escape, a place of freedom, a release from the mundane of the everyday. It is both a visual thing, and a state of mind. But the combination of things, the reasons for being a Steampunk, and the way that you incorporate Steampunk into your life as a whole, can be different from one person to the next. It is a flexible sub-culture that allows everyone to put their own individual streak upon it, and to take from it what they want or need without getting bogged down in things like “rules”. There are no rules. There is only you, and what you believe Steampunk to be.

For me, Steampunk is who I am. I believe that no matter the time of day, I am a Steampunk. Everything I do in life reflects on the Steampunk Community as a whole, and I believe that causing damage to that community is like damaging a part of yourself. It’s not just a fashion fad or cosplay, it’s a full on culture – a sense of being and self that allows you to express yourself in ways outside of the “Popular Culture” norm. It’s society, culture, art, music, fashion and expression.

Others may have a different view on what Steampunk really is. Some see it as a fashion trend and nothing more, while others consider it a form of artistic expression, rather than a culture. Some people see Steampunk as being a political movement; a way to fight back against the Pop-Culture establishment and the poor treatment of the masses in favour of the elite few. However, within Steampunk there are people of many political ideals, so others feel that it is distinctly not political, but instead a social movement attempting to revive the ideals of manners, respect and dignity.
There are many different interpretations of Steampunk, but that doesn’t make any of their ideas wrong. The beauty of Steampunk is that everyone can be completely different, yet united under a common banner.

When starting out in Steampunk, rather than simply asking others “what is Steampunk?”, at some point you should instead ask yourself “what is Steampunk to me?”. And if you don’t yet know what Steampunk means to you, then don’t worry! Finding the answer to that question is part of the fun! Just get involved and enjoy the adventure.

Steampunk Mermaid WIP: “Tail”

So, the Steampunk Mermaid is progressing well with the “tail” skirt pretty much done aside from some tidying up of threads. The pannier “fins” are also done, although I may add some additional structural support once the rest of the outfit is complete. The jewellery is all done, and I have the patterns in place for the top and harness. I also have an idea in place for some armlets or similar, though I may make bracers instead if I can find a nice pattern.

In Boyes I found a gorgeous purple satin and matching organza so, sticking with The Little Mermaid as my primary inspiration, I bought some!

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The “tail” is made from teal velour and a shimmery form of chiffon, edges in stiff white lace. The panniers are again the chiffon and lace, with the structure being primarily steel boning and cotton casings. The top will be made out of the purple satin and trimmed in the organza.

 

Valkyria Shoulder Maille

It’s been a while since I posted anything about my original character, Valkyria, but I have finally taken her outfit out of storage and started to look at finishing it as I may need it for a photoshoot next week. For the most part, it’s complete, but the corset isn’t going to be finished on time. This isn’t going to cause too much of an issue, because I have a leatherette corset I can wear instead. However, I really wanted to get the shoulder maille finished – the Valkyria piece utilises three different mailling techniques and I am really quite proud of the fact that I have learnt how to do them by myself, so I wanted to show it off!

Since the last time I showed the piece, there have been a few more “trophy” additions, including a wooden button, clock/watch parts, and come traditional gears with attached charms. The whole idea of the shoulder piece is that it displays small items that mean something significant to Valkyria – it is a mish-mash of rubbish and collected pieces that, on their own, are completely worthless, but in the grand scheme of Valkyria’s story, they hold sentimental value.

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My favourite new addition is actually the watch movement with dangling cogs. I love mechanical watch movements, and I am starting to build up a collection of pocket watches as a result. The intricacy of the watch has always fascinated me – all of the pieces have to mesh together perfectly, otherwise the watch simply doesn’t work. I love that idea, so I knew I had to incorporate some of that aesthetic into the piece. It’s a reminder to work as a cohesive whole – that we can not truly reach our full potential unless we are complete. This watch no longer works, but the individual pieces can still serve as a reminder that we are part of a bigger picture.

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ODOP: More Of Valkyria

So, for this particular ODOP, I was again focussing on Valkyria’s upper.  Primarily, I wanted to get the basework for the corset completed, so that I could see what it looked like under the jacket.

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I opted for a single pattern this time, as I have never made a corset before and I wanted to follow the instructions through properly.  Using the same drill and lining fabric as the jacket, I managed to complete the corset’s main structure.  All that’s left now, is to get some buckles and finish off the tabs that go across the front of the corset.  I am not 100% convinced that I have got the sizing right, but I hope to make do.

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As you can see from the image above, I have also been looking into accessorising both the jacket, and Valkyria as a whole.  The Anguistralobe pendant is a particular favourite of mine from Alchemy Gothic, a skull and crossbones medal hails from Curious Fashion, and the chainmaille shoulder pieces are made by myself, with oddbits added on for a more mish-mashed apocalyptic look.

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One Day, One Project: Valkyria’s Jacket

Anyone who knows me will know that I have problems focussing on one thing at a time.  I always have a hundred and one projects rolling through my head at any point, and it takes a lot for me to sit and focus on only one thing.  The Steampunk Dredd coat and waistcoat I made, for example, are possibly one of the few times I really knuckled down and concentrated on a single idea.  So, I have decided to do at least one One Day, One Project a month.  The idea of ODOP is to force me into actually finishing something to a wearable point, a feat that is difficult for me as I always find myself becoming distracted by new ideas and thoughts that pop into my head.

The current ODOP theme is Valkyria, the Post-Apocalyptic Steampunk Sniper.  She is a creation of my own, taking inspiration from Steampunk, Mad Max: Fury Road and Priest.  Her outfit is based on the dusty browns and greens of a land torn between complete devastation and extreme beauty.  The paradises scattered throughout the scarred and torn landscape are highly contested by those left behind after the apocalyptic disaster, and Valkyria’s skills with a long-range weapon are highly sought after.  When not taking headshots, Valkyria uses her survival and weapons skills to seek out her own lost paradise, where her sister, Freya, waits for her.

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While I have most of Valkyria’s lower half already sorted, her top half is was still pretty bare.  I decided to make my first ODOP Valkyria’s Jacket, which I designed to maintain a military theme, but bearing in mind that the Post-Apocalyptic world I am envisioning is both dusty and hot.

I took inspiration from two different pre-printed patterns for this, starting with a basic bolero body and incorporating a more military style puffed sleeve and pointed collar/cuffs.

I chose a cotton drill fabric, as it is both light and durable, and a polycotton lining, which also doubled as the contrast for the collar and cuffs.  I tried to get the drill as close to the colour of a military hat I own as possible, as I intend to wear the hat as part of my outfit.  It wasn’t possible to completely match the colour, as the hat is pretty old and faded, but it’s damn close!  I used a brown polycotton that I found in my stash, partly to save money, and partly because I felt that the brown would make a nice contrast to the drill.

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So, I spent the whole of Sunday working on this jacket.  And tada!  I actually went from drawing the pattern all the way to having a working jacket in just one day!  Of course, it still needs pressing, and it could probably do with some embellishments, but I am pretty pleased with what I have done so far.  Particularly because this is the first time I have mashed elements from multiple patterns together.

Valkyria is well on the way to completion, and with a holiday from work coming up, I may take an extra bit of time to finish it off!

New Cosplay: Medusa

I blame my friend, Julia, for this one, as I have had one of her songs going through my head for something like three months now!  Anyway, this song, coupled with my finding of an old wig I used for a photoshoot once, inspired me to create a Steampunk themed Medusa outfit.  It was also coincidental that about a year ago, I took a stash of scrap fabric off of Julia’s hands, and it had several pieces of green and brown fabric in it.  I decided there and then that brown and green would be my colour scheme for Medusa, taking inspiration from the common grass snake.

I already had a brown corset-top that I decided I would use, made of leatherette with brass-coloured buckles, d-rings and studs.  But other than that, I decided to make everything!

My first stop was the skirt.  I knew I wanted something asymmetrical, and also something that had some kind of decorative folding and buttoning.  I wanted it to mimic shedding skin in that it could be undone to reveal more of what was underneath, most notably, my leg, but also potentially some long boots, spats or bloomers.  I also considered a petticoat, but I figured that it would probably get too warm, so have completed the design with the intention of being worn without.  I also decided that I was going to minimise my use of seams, as I wanted to give Medusa a tatty, rough look, as though she had attempted to make herself look presentable without any real understanding of Human clothing.

I discovered that I had a rectangular piece of mottled green fabric that perfectly created the skirt I was looking for, without having to cut a pattern!  I simply wrapped the piece around myself, pinned where I wanted the zip to go, created a drawstring waistband, and tacked the drapes into place.  It was much easier than I had expected it to be!  I added some brass-coloured metal buttons down the front to complete the underskirt.  I also made a yellow-green organza apron and train from the same pattern I used for LeFay, with rolled seams as organza tends to fray and come apart easier than cottons and polycottons, and despite my wanting a frayed and tattered look, that’s a bit too much!

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I have also taken a couple of scraps of fabric in browns to create a sash and a drape on the skirt, but there aren’t finished yet as they need some hooks and d-rings on them.  I also started a jabot, which again, isn’t finished yet.  However, the real statement of the outfit is going to be the wig, which I hope to begin working in when my hair doughnut and florist’s wire arrive!

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It doesn’t look quite right on the mannequin, but I am hoping that the addition of snake motifs and coiled snakes will complete the look, along with the mad wig!

LeFay Initial Designs

So, anyone who knows me in real life has already seen these, but I just thought I would share with you my drawings for the LeFay outfit I have been working on – mainly because I am hoping to get some critique on my sketches and ideas on how to better my sketchbook work, if I can!

Because LeFay is more of an original concept from British myth, I decided to work the entire concept on a Steampunk theme, as that is the area in which I am most comfortable at the moment.  This is the first complete clothing project I have ever embarked upon for myself, my first projects were a coat and waistcoat for my partner, so I am taking it fairly slowing in terms of planning and making.

LeFay started as a multi-purpose project, with one or two linking items pulling together three overall outfits to be worn at the Asylum Steampunk Festival.  The designs were supposed to be simple for me to put together, but I never ended up making them as I chose to focus on the coat and waistcoat projects for my partner instead.

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The linking items of the original designs were the lace vest top and the apron-train.  The whole idea was that, by keeping these items as a constant, all I had to do was add or subtract individual elements, such as the waistcoat and bloomers, to change the outfit into something different.  I started making the apron and train, but ultimately, because my partner was unable to make the coat and waistcoat himself, I chose to stop working on it and do his instead.

I picked the project up again at the beginning of this month, when I finished off the apron and train section with the addition of hand-stitched crystals and pearls (a close-up of which you can see as the featured image at the top of the post).  It was at this point that I decided to make this my MCM Birmingham outfit, and I proceeded to redesign the entire outfit to focus on a warrior goddess styling of LeFay (she is the guardian of Avalon so it would make sense for her to be somewhat battle-capable), taking a few ideas from the previous drawings and incorporating them into the new concept.  I also added a few new ideas that I had picked up over the two months I had not been working on the project.

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The apron-train and lace top still feature, though I have now decided to use a long-sleeved lace top instead of a vest design.  I have also swapped the corset for a bustier and included the bloomers from the Ambassador design, though I am thinking of having them as more of a capri-legging style of bloomer.  I also added a more extensive series of armour designs, predominantly chain-maille and leather.  While I am intending to buy the shoulder piece and the holster-belt, I will be making the chain-maille myself.

This section is the part of the outfit that is pretty much finished.  I am halfway through making the bustier and will start on the chain-maille and accessories once I have finished that.  The bloomer ruffles are also separate pieces, instead of attached to the leggings.  They were easier to make that way and it makes them a little more multi-purpose.

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I have, in the past, received a lot of negativity regarding my use of chain-maille in Steampunk.  I have been regularly told that it simply “isn’t Steampunk”, however, I feel that it has a certain aesthetic quality that gives it a grimey, post-apocalyptic edge.  I tend to use modern chain-maille designs instead of traditional armour ones in my jewellery, and I feel that the use of brass jump rings and repurposed wire more than counteracts the era difference between Victorian and Medieval times.  Besides, I like the way it looks, and if I have learnt anything from Steampunk, it is that if you like it, then do it!