Sunday, May 19, 2013

Steampunk White Queen V2 - Steampunk World's Fair 2013

Long time, no write!  That's why I don't do very well at keeping blogs..../makes note to self.

In any case, hubby and I just got back from the Steampunk World's Fair in Piscataway, NJ and I'm delighted to report that not only did I get to premier the latest and greatest version of my Steampunk White Queen costume, it actually won first prize in the costume contest!

Think this was right before my cloak turned into a D&D cloaker and ate me...

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself - and it was an impressive crowd, so really was a spectacular honor. If only I hadn't gotten horribly tangled up in my cloak trying to show off the ratchets....but that's so very, very me, trying to being sexy and instead winding up awkwardly charming instead.

In any case - first, the outfit!

Steampunk White Queen/Emma Frost outfit

That's the completed outfit in all its white glory.  Now, to talk about how it came to be...

As I've mentioned in an earlier post, I think one of the most important parts is to first find something that really appeals to you and you want to develop.  It will become a real labor of love, and at times your mortal enemy - so it's important that you're really excited and passionate about the costume you're working on.

The next step I always try to do is to find a primary element, and then build around that.  In my case, the primary element is of course the leather corset.  This is a corset I commissioned and worked with Steward Facile of Life Tree Leather, writing back and forth to discuss design options, color options, fastenings, all kinds of details.  His work is really outstanding, and I've recommended he post the design above as a steampunk wedding corset - I think there would be a lot of demand for it.

The corset is white leather, with a dove grey scrollwork design that is hand-stitched onto the white.  We used pewter/gunmetal colored rivets and swing arm box latches, to match the grey of the corset and to give a little more contrast.  Originally I'd debated doing this in all white with silver trim, but then thought some level of differentiation would be good, to give a little more interest and versatility to it.  I'm glad I did - it not only allows for options such as pairing with a grey skirt down the road, but I think pure white might have been too boring.  It's still clearly White Queen enough.

The cape I sewed from a lace-type fabric I got from JoAnn Fabrics, trimmed with white fox fur around the color.  Under the cape are lace elbow-length fingerless gloves, which you can make from any stretchy cotton/lycra blend lace.

The "boots" in this case are white spats, made from cotton twill and lined with felt.  Instructions here.  The felt is important because if you wear any sort of stocking or nylons underneath, the felt helps to give a bit of grip to the fabric and helps hold it up.  I've trimmed it with petwer color buttons, though I think I probably need 12 rather than 6 per leg.  The spats were made from taking newspaper and wrapping it around one of my legs (buddy to assist recommended), and then duct-taping the newspaper as snugly as you want your spats to fit.  Trace seam lines where you want seams (generally front, back, and then outer leg side), and then cut the newspaper/duct tape off to make a pattern.

The necklace is two separate elements in the above picture - one is a hand-tatted lace choker by RĂ© Teague of Custom Clothing and Costumes that I bought at the Steampunk@Gettysburg event in March, and the beaded parts are attached to another choker I made using seed beads, Swarovski crystal separators, and pearls.  This allows me to wear either piece separately or layered, depending on the look I'm going for - when I want something more subdued, or with the v3 boffin outfit (in planning), I'll want just the lace choker. For balls or something more flashy, I like having the beaded lower section as well.  Future post will have instructions on how I made the necklace - it was one of the easier and lower-cost, if time-consuming - elements.

The hat was a commission I designed with Belinda Lockhart of Ms Purdy's Hats - white feathers, a white satin band, and then there's a large bow with a train on the back.  The train I sometimes tuck under the hat (as I did above), depending on if I'm wearing a cloak or not.  V3 will have a white bowler,and the current plan is to make from felted wool myself - but we'll see how ambitious I am this summer.

The skirt, if you can believe it, is what gave me the biggest headaches.  I was stumped for months on what to do, and tried various versions.  While bustles with trains are gorgeous - and my first idea, based on a pattern from Truly Victorian - using white fabric makes this a Bad Idea in the long run.  I wound up doing a short bustle of cotton twill, just to make sure it worked, and will ultimately do one out of dupioni silk (because the shimmer is divine).  The front skirt took a while.  I tried multiple fabrics, but everything that had the right drape was too sheer (again, when wearing white, sheer is a Bad Idea).  The fabrics that had more weight were too bulky and didn't lay well.  I finally, in desperation the week before the even, tried making some short Victorian-style bloomers - after all, the White Queen from the comics wore a bikini bottom in the original ensemble.  They came out well, but it still didn't have quite the right look - it seemed to make the rest of the outfit a little casual.  Finally, I bought a couple yard of bridal lace to make an over-skirt to wear over the bloomers, and that worked out very well.  Did version 2 of the bloomers the morning of the event, but finally got the right length and flounce for what I was aiming.

And, voila!  It was a lot of work and a lot of time putting together, but very pleased with how it came out.  Now to begin modifications, the white wool skirt for my boffin version, a white and silver cane, a parasol....

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