Archive for the ‘Steampunk’ Category

Events Update, and New Pictures!

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

I last posted about the two events I have in may. That’s now increased to 4!  Let me break it down for you:


May: First Weekend: Make Believe Market, London (Sunday the 5th)

This whole weekend is going to be a lot of fun, and I am going to all of the events, culminating in the market on the Sunday. I should be trading alongside some friends (more on that later!) so you should come down and check it out.


May: Second Weekend: Saturday: SinS, Looe (Saturday the 11th)

Who knew that there’d be a steampunk festival one town down the coast from me in Cornwall? Well, I didn’t. But there is! It’s call SinS, and I should really know what that stands for!


May: Second Weekend: Sunday: London Fetish Fair, London (Sunday the 12th)

I’ll be catching the bus at some ungodly hour in the morning, having only just got back from SinS, up to London, to trade at the London Fetish Fair. A little edgier than the others? Maybe so, but it’s lots of fun, and there’s nowhere better to see incredible outfits!


May: Third Weekend: Saturday: Steampunk Extravaganza, Frome (Saturday the 18th)

This looks like it’s going to be a good one! People are coming from far and wide for the inaugural event, and we wouldn’t miss it! Check it out here.


The day after that, I have an olympic distance Triathlon. It’s going to be a fun month!


Now, new pictures! Generations ago, I made the Airshipman’s Jeans. The original ones weren’t very good, and nor were the photos I had of them. So I’ve reinvented them, changed the design somewhat, and finally got some nice pictures! I think they look pretty sweet, and mine are getting a lot of wear- I used polycotton rather than pure cotton in an attempt to make them more hardwearing and more washable, and it’s worked well. These should last for years!

This photo was taken underneath Brunel's Royal Albert Bridge in Saltash. It doesn't get more steamy than that!



Monday, March 4th, 2013

You may have noticed that I’ve been making a bunch of steampunk stuff lately. If you haven’t noticed, go and notice! I’ll wait.

The reason for the slightly soft focus on this shot is that Tom shot it on a 1947 Kodak Box Brownie. The man is dedicated.










































Done? Good.  Steampunk as a subculture is on the rise at the moment, and there are events springing up all over the place! In the merry month of may, I have two events. Allow me to give you the details (or “deets”, as I believe the kids are saying).

The first, on May 11th, is called SinS, and is deliciously local to me- it’s just down the coast near Looe. There’s an event on Facebook HERE and a website HERE and also you can click HERE to get free cookies. I’m just kidding. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Anyway, I’m really excited about this event! Partly because it’s so close to me, and partly because it’s so close to the sea, and I love the sea. Good old sea. Also, by May it’s going to be gloriously sunny every day!

The second event is the weekend after, on May 18th. It’s the Market of Curiosities at the Frome Steampunk Extravaganza! I’ll be honest- I’d never heard of Frome before I heard of this event. Now I have, and my life is the richer! It looks like it’s going to be quite something!

So to sum up, that’s SinS one weekend, then Frome, then the next day I have a triathlon. Good times!


My Dearest Celia…

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

As I hope you know by now, my new collection, entitled, for reasons that will be made clear, “My Dearest Celia…” was launched a week or so ago.  This is the first time I’ve done this- in the past I’ve always posted pictures of every garment as I made it, as it came together, then took a picture of it to use as a product picture and showed that. It didn’t generate much excitement for two reasons- one, everyone had already seen it several times before it was finished, and two, the photos that I took were never good. This time, therefore, I decided to keep my cards a little closer to my chest during most of the design and construction, and also to bring in my friend Tom in to take some pictures that were actually good.

This is also the first time I’ve actively put together a “collection” as a single entity. With my harlequin stuff, I put a few bits together, photographed them as they came, and posted them, but this was the first time I’d done the whole thing as one to be shot together. As a result, I totally got delusions of grandeur, and decided that the photographs all needed a unifying narrative, to make them more than just pictures of clothes.

The story went like this; “My Dearest Celia…” is the start of a letter written by a lovelorn soldier of the 23rd Infantry Brigade, nicknamed The Tigers, to a woman with whom he is besotted.

I wrote this, and then felt super guilty for making up a character and being so mean to him. I have a weird conscience.

Unfortunately, Celia is all too aware of this, and, without reciprocating his feelings, takes advantage of them to get him to do stuff. Bad stuff. Stuff that gets him in trouble with bad people, and results in him being tied to some railway tracks (the location scouting part of this was super fun!).

Will she release him? Why should she, when she can get more promises? She's super mean.

After finally cutting him loose, they walk a little. Probably he’s apologising for inconveniencing her or something. Jesus, unnamed male character, sort your life out!

In this scene, our hero tries to endear himself to Celia. In reality, what you see here is Real Life Celia being mad that my outfit involves a fleece lined jacket, and hers is just a fairly thin top and trousers over a white blouse, and it's freezing cold.

Then we talk things out, and sit on a sluice because it’s a nice day:

The reason for the slightly soft focus on this shot is that Tom shot it on a 1947 Kodak Box Brownie. The man is dedicated. Also, Instagram can suck it.

I guess we make up in the end, because when we got to the final location, which was a very cool former tram bridge, I was intending to shoot me dangling off it by my finger tips with Celia standing on my fingers, but what had been  a fairly easygoing, shallow river when I scouted it, had become a pretty solid torrent, and I didn’t fancy drowning. I realise this shows a profound lack of commitment to the role, but what do you want? I’m a dressmaker, not a model.

Here we stare off into our future; me, happy to me with the woman with whom I am obsessed, her, apparently planning more ways to take advantage of those feelings.

If you read all that, thanks! This was a lot of fun to put together, and it showed me a few things I need to get better at. Most importantly I’ve learned that while it’s fine to work yourself super hard on construction, and work long days putting it all together, you can’t (or at least, I can’t) rush the design process. If inspiration hits, it hits, and if it doesn’t, a deadline isn’t going to make it. Next time I won’t set a date for shooting until I have all of the designs dialled in.

This also marks our first proper shoot with our new offical model Celia Grey, who puts up with a lot, and totally followed my direction here- I said “Ice Queen”, and she nailed it! That said, it was super cold, so maybe ice queen wasn’t too far from the mark.

You can find the collection for sale here.

My Dearest Celia…

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

This is my new collection. A sad tale of unrequited love spoiled by my inability to stop grinning when someone points a camera at me.

The pictures can be found on my facebook page, and while you’re there, could you hit that Like button? Thanks!

Anyway, I’m going to do a big update about all of it soon, but for now, enjoy this picture of my wonderful photographer friend Tom. When I told him it was a steampunk shoot, he showed up with two dSLRs,  a bunch of lenses, lights, and a Box Brownie from 1947. Ladies and gentlemen:

You can find the clothes in the steampunk section of my shop. There’s a link to Tom’s website here.

Design to Execution

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

I design almost everything I make, but I don’t consider myself a designer. I am a maker. I design things, yes, but that’s not where it’s at for me. I like making things.

I think this is a good way to work. A mediocre design can be made very palatable by good technical skill, but there’s no design so great that it wouldn’t be ruined by being poorly executed.

Anyway, with all that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to post my initial sketch of an item (which is usually the entirety of the design), and then see how the final item differed.

Here’s a picture of the initial sketch. I turned up the contrast to make it seem gritty and noir-esque.


The first thing I realised was that I had drawn 6 straps, and NO ONE IS THAT TALL.  That got cut down to three.

The second thing that changed, which isn’t really obvious from the sketch, is that the buckles were originally going to be stitched onto the facing, but I decided to try and put them in the dart, instead, to avoid having a raw edge. It would also help support the weight of the buckles. I’m really pleased with how this worked- I think it looks really neat. As a result of that, the straps were extended so that they started in the other dart, rather than being attached to the edge of the right hand facing.

Oh my. I have literally just this minute realised that there was a lapel in the drawing. I did NOT see that. I guess that’s number 3!

The moving of the straps to the dart meant that I had to redesign the buttons- to be honest, even when I was drawing them, I had no intention of putting that many buttons on. Maybe six or seven, but twelve? Nope.

At this point I decided to slightly change the line of the left front piece, so that the buttons could be equally spaced between and above the straps. I don’t know if this counts, because that was a fairly arbitrary line to start with.

The lines under the buckles that fasten the straps coming down from the shoulders were going to be just embroidered. I took those out because I thought they’d spoil the line. Not because I forgot to put them in before I’d stitched the lining in… Not that at all.

I also changed the strap fastening from buckles to buttons for a number of reasons; I have a lot of brass buttons, and far fewer buckles; Buckles are heavy, and in that position, would have sagged; it’s easier and neater to put buttonholes in tape than it is to put in eyelets, especially when you’re out of eyelets; that’s quite enough semicolons.

I’ve also not added the second strap, but I might yet- it was designed to loop around the first, and I can still put more buttons on. I gave myself rather more space in the drawing than I had in actuality, though, so I might leave it as it is.

Anyway, after all that, here’s a picture of the result!

Ta dah!

I’m pretty pleased with it! Workshopping names just now, and I’ll get some nice pictures of it tomorrow, at which point it will be listed! I’ve already sold one, too, so that’s nice!

Deadlines, patchwork, swimming, site redesign, and corsets

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

What ho! Today, a catchup on what I’ve been doing. My aim now is to update my Facebook and Twitter several times each day with pictures and updates about what I’m working on, and then once or twice a week to have a longer post here pulling everything together.

First things first! As the title suggests, I’d like to talk about deadlines.

I love deadlines.

That may sound odd, but I am sure a lot of you can relate to my position. If someone asks me to make something, and sets me a deadline, that thing will be made by that deadline. No questions. Last Sunday, I was at a market in London, when a friendly fellow asked me to make him a pair of trousers. BUT, he added, he needed them to wear to a party on the next Saturday. That’s six days, including shipping them to London (for those of you outside the UK, it’s small, but it’s not THAT small, and I live about 6 hours away from London by road). No problem! I measured him, drafted them on Tuesday, cut them, and made the fly on Wednesday, leaving myself just the waistband and the hems to do on Thursday, which I did before shipping them special delivery just after lunchtime. They arrived Friday morning, and he had a great, bespoke outfit in under a week.

So when I am set a deadline, I meet that deadline. Questions? No? Good.

The other side of the coin is when people say “Oh, no rush”.

Goddamnit, people! I NEED the rush! If there’s no rush, if it’s a run of the mill product, it’ll take anywhere from a month to in excess of six (SO sorry, customer (you know who you are)). If it’s something I’m excited to make, I’ll get the basics of it done super quick, but then all those little finishing bits will drag on and on and on. So please, if you’re ordering something from me, tell me when you want it by! It can a week’s time, or a year, but let me know!


Now, item number two in the list is Patchwork! I do love me some patchwork, and I think it really brightens up some relatively normal designs.


Me, in cotton Harlequin trousers

These trousers, for example, are a pretty standard cut. A little higher in the waist, perhaps, and they have only one pocket, but still. Add some patchwork to one leg, and you get nothing but compliments!

Several of my recent designs were inspired by that very black and white diamond patchwork fabric. Those of you who know me well will know that I have a thing for harlequins, and when I saw this fabric, I had to have it. However, it’s quite expensive on the roll, and the shop that I got it from has only the one roll and cannot get any more. Not wanting to rely on no one else buying any, and that already slim roll somehow lasting forever, I decided to figure out how to make it myself, quickly and easily.

To cut a long story short; I did! Mainly thanks to my overlocker. I love my overlocker.


NOT SHOWN: Lipstick marks.

If anyone’s interested, I’ll post a tutorial on how to do it. It’s a very quick method that does not involve cutting out hundreds of tiny diamonds which then fray and get lost before you have a chance to painstakingly join them by hand.


Logic would tell us that now is the time to talk about swimming, but it’s not! That comes later! I’m going to talk about the upcoming redesign of this site.

When I first got this site, it didn’t have much direction. I made stuff that I thought was cute, and it was! Oh my, was it ever. But now, I have a lot more direction. Recently, it’s been Circus Swing, and further back, Steampunk. So I’m going to have parts of the site redesigned to better reflect this! I’m also going to get rid of the portfolio section, replacing it with some kind of garment retrospective, and I’m going to get rid of the “Home” page, because what on earth do you put there that doesn’t go in another section? The site will work just the same, it’ll just look different. Better, I hope!

Now, by way of an apology for the last paragraph’s dramatic departure into chaos, corsets! I am working on some corset designs. There’s not a whole lot to say here, except that I’ve only ever dabbled with corsetry, and I’m excited to be getting properly into it! Keep an eye on my twitter for excited tweets as it all comes together/despairing, angry tweets as it all falls apart.


Finally, swimming. The event I was training for, the 2.2 mile Breakwater Swim (swimming from Plymouth’s Breakwater to the shore) was last Sunday. You can read a bit about it here (that’s me on the right, refraining from doing what the photographer suggested and putting my hand on Pauline’s shoulder, because she was covered in Vaseline). This was before the swim, when we were all excitedly nervous. Anyway, it went off without a hitch, once I was in the water (although I came off my bike on the way there and did the whole thing with cuts all down my right side and a swollen elbow on one side and shoulder on the other). I took longer than I wanted, but 12 weeks ago I couldn’t swim 25m crawl, so I’m still pretty happy. Now it’s time to work on my technique and my speed. I set the bar nice and low for next year!


Thanks for sticking with me through all that, folks! That was long. Reward yourselves now! Perhaps a cup of tea, or something from the store?


Monday, January 30th, 2012

Until the great server crash of ’10, there were lots of lovely pictures of steampunk stuff that I’ve made on here. Now they are gone, and I am sad. That’s no way to live! Here are some pretty pictures, and a little explanation of what Steampunk means to me.

Steampunk has appealed to me ever since I first found out above it. Far beyond its aesthetic, it is its maker mentality, and love of mechanical beauty that I love.

Imagine the world never discovered silicone, but that our technology somehow continued apace, powered only by steam, springs, levers, and lightning. I added that last one because it sounded nice.

Then imagine people decided to wear awesome waistcoats ALL THE TIME.

Purists will tell you that I am talking about a mish mash of steampunk, clockpunk, raygun gothic, mad science, and any number of other cool sounding things, but I am not in this for the labels. I am in it for the waistcoats.

The people of this imaginary time, then, seem to be trapped permanently in a 1970s colour palette, but good lord do they ever love it. Brown? Yes. Yellow? Yes. Brown WITH yellow? Oh my.

That said, I do not subscribe to the school of thought that it has to be brown to be steampunk. I’ll rock me some blacks, reds, maybe a green or two. Grey is steampunk as hell.

I’ve made a goodish bit of steampunk stuff that you can check out on our Etsy store! Here are some links:

The rather smart waistcoat that you can see in the picture there. Sorry I couldn’t find a better model!

A Bookpouch in which you can put books. You can also put other things in it!

A Belt, for the holding up of trousers. It’s all in the accessories, people!

Here also is a Minikilt that is both cute and awesome. It was hard to get both of those attributes in one place!

Finally, if you have so much money that your trousers are falling down even eith the belt, why not spend some on these rather nice Suspenders? This will lighten your pockets, AND you’ll have additional support for your trousers. They’ll never come down again!

Steampunk Corset

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

It has long been my belief that there are not enough tarnished brass buckles in the world. With the steampunk corset, Marta and I set out to rectify that. Fastening with buckles at the side, there is no need for either a busk or for lacing, and the corset should be easy to put on by onesself, without the irritation of having excess lacing hanging down the back or the need for a well built friend to get the damn thing laced up.

Steampunk Corset
(Image kindly provided by Marta)

It would probably be made of a heavy duty cotton, with plenty of interlining to make it pleasingly rigid and strong.

I am going to make this for etsy, hopefully quite soon. Quicker if someone says they are interested in it!


Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Some time ago, and it feels like a lot longer than it was, I discovered steampunk. It looked like fun, and I wanted to get involved, but there wasn’t very much going on outside of the US at the time.

Now, with the Etsy shop open, and with me in a better place for making things, I have decided to make steampunk clothes.

Making steampunk clothes is fun. I am making a waistcoat at the moment. I always get a little bored sewing buttonholes, but then, what is steampunk about buttons? Let’s replace them with some nice brown leather straps.

And wool, for a waistcoat? No, I much prefer canvas and other heavy fabrics.

It’ll be a little while before this waistcoat is ready, because it is going to be fairly heavily embroidered. But here is a little preview:

The embroidery is going to stretch all the way up the right hand side, with the straps and buckles taking up most of the left. I haven’t been this excited about something I have made since I knitted my first jersey!