Admittedly, I’m new to the steampunk world and a novice costume maker. Earlier this year, I wrote an article for work about a steampunk festival happening in the state, and the genre intrigued me. I’ve been reading steampunk sci-fi/fantasy books for a long time.
For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, steampunk is a genre that mixes Victorian style with futuristic tech. Like steam powered time machines, automaton (robotic) creatures, etc. Science, aviation, time travel and industrialization are common themes.
The base of our costumes were clothes we had on hand. For me, that meant a brown peasant skirt I don’t think I’ve worn since middle school (it was a wee bit tight, oh well) and a white T-shire with a ruffled neckline and ruffled cap sleeves. The Better Half wore his normal black pant and a white dress shirt.
So to actually make this steampunk – accessories.
Better Half’s costume
To start, I took Better Half’s hat from last Halloween (he was the Mad Hatter) and turned it inside out. The hat was made by cutting strips out of a cardboard cereal box to form a frame and cover with fabric. For the Mad Hatter, the hat had been green with a gray lining, so by flipping inside out, I had a gray hat. For the overall steampunk project, I had picked up some cans of silver and rose gold spray paint as well as a bottle of gold acrylic paint.
I spray painted the hat with the silver spray paint. Then I painted over the original yellow sash from the hat (it wasn’t attached so I could slide off and put on it back on the hat when it was inside out. For the sash I used light brushes of the gold acrylic mixed with some brown acrylic leftover from a past project.
For the detail on the hat, I took a piece of scrap lace I had in my scrap bin, folded it in thirds and stitched across the bottom with a loose running stitch. Pulling the ends of the stitches will make the ruffle. I then stitched that to the gold sash and stitch an 8-inch piece of craft wire on, too. Using jewelry pliers, I made the spirals.I finished it off by layering the craft gears and adhering with hot glue.
The can is a PVC pipe connection piece and a wooden dowel cut in 3 pieces (two 2.5-inch pieces and a longer piece, about 36 inches). I spray painted with the gold. You could use actual copper pipe if you wanted, but this was much cheaper.
I then wrapped the handle with leather cording and the shaft with more of the craft wire. Then, I glued on more gears. The “rivet” or round brass details are office supple brass brads that I used wire cutters to trim off the folding legs. Those, too, are affixed with hot glue.
The guns are simply knock-off Nerf guns, spray painted with a base coat of silver. Then I used gold, black, and brown acrylic paint to add detail.
The google are made with what I call elderly sunglasses (they’re the big ones that fit over corrective glasses). If you can, pop out the lenses; if not, you’re going to want to cover the lens with painter’s tape on both sides before you paint. I took soda bottles (specifically Better Half’s Mountain Dew bottles) and cut off the top portion and then cut off the screw top area. Using hot glue, I attached the bottle plastic to each frame of the glasses. Bonus: After you spray paint, the hot glue will look like welds! Cool right?
Then, I spray painted the glasses silver (I had a lot more silver spray paint).
To make new lenses for the google, I peeled off the clear plastic from noodle boxes. I hot glued that on too. The edges were a little rough, so I covered with some decorative cording, which I then hand painted gold. Then, hot glue more gears and rivets.
The most time consuming project was the jet pack. I laid out all the recylables first and did a dry fit. Here’s the inventory: combustion cylinder = Powerade bottle; center console = two boxes tea comes in, duct taped together; jet blaster x2 = Diet Coke bottle plus top half of cherry tomato container; center dial component = half a peanut butter container, bottom half of cherry tomato container; exhaust = paper towel tube. The buttons, dials and meters are made from bottle and jar lids. The large center one is spaghetti sauce jar lid, the two smaller ones are Snapple bottle lids and there’s the soda bottle lid. Once all the individual component were assembled in their own section (with more hot glue) I spray painted everything and then attached together with some more cording and duct tape.
The straps were made from two thrift store leather belts. I struggled with attaching them. I used both hot glue and duct tape, but it peeled a bit. Maybe next time I’ll use a cardboard backing piece that’s a bit stronger so that there something substantial I can staple through or something. The gauge/meter faces I printed off the internet and then mod podged to the caps. I used more brads (with only one leg cut this time) to be an indicator arrow.
The tubing was semi-opaque white tubing I picked at Home Depot and spray painted silver. It’s adhered with, you guessed it, hot glue.
Lady Crafter’s costume
Like Better Half, I had goggles and a gun, too. (That’s why there’s two in the above pictures.)
I wasn’t going to have a top hat and cane thought. Instead, I made a lace and ribbon choker necklace and a bow/fascinator hairpiece.
I had also thought about making some mechanical wings, but that epically failed and I have a real job so Attempt 2 never happened.
The hairpiece is a green velvet bow with black netting I got for a $1, new, from Goodwill. I had some plastic costume jewelry an aunt gave to me and used this cameo clip on earring as the centerpoint of the bow. I hand stitched on the cameo and two 8-inch craft wire segments. Like the hat detail, I used jewelry pliers to make some spirals. Then I hot glued on gears and the brass rivets.
The necklace was very similar in construction. I started with a piece of ribbon the circumference of my neck. It could have probably been a little shorter since I gained about a half-inch of length when I sewed on a jewelry clasp to the ends. Then I cut a piece of lace to length (the same as what’s on the hat). You could probably sew, but I just kept on hot gluing. I found a larger cameo pin in the box of costume jewelry and used that as the necklace centerpiece. Then, I added wire detail and glued on some gears. Hot glue didn’t work as well on the lace as it did on the velvet bow. I lost a few gear pieces. You may want to tack down with a few hidden hand stitches. Especially if you’re wearing your costume someplace with small kids or pets. To give some stability to the necklace, I didn’t cut the tabs off the brads this time. Instead, I cut tiny slits in the ribbon and fold them through as you would normally use brads. To keep from getting scratched by the metal, I glued a thinner ribbon on the reverse.