A Stitch in Time . . .

As my Steampunk wardrobe has unfolded, I’ve been a staunch supporter of thrift-store steaming. I’ve written elsewhere about my incompetence with a needle; to date, that’s been handiest excuse for not picking one up.

But this week, I did the unthinkable. I finally became  seamstress.

Does it sound more impressive when I add that I hand-sewed a costume piece, without a pattern, by candlelight, whilst camping in upper New York? (Please say “yes!”) When it was all said and done, it was great fun. I might even do it again.

So drumroll, please, for my first sewn project: A bustle pad—of all things—to fill out those beautiful bustles I purchased at TeslaCon last fall. They’re my best Victorian wardrobe pieces so far. When I wear them for my Steampunk 101 class at Realm Makers today, I think they’ll look even better with this pad underneath!


I started out with a basic pattern from Wipsterwhich I had to recreate from memory because our campsite didn’t have wifi. I took my measurements, then plotted the general shape on a piece of fabric and cut it out, including about an inch on all sides for the seam. (Apologies for photo quality; I took it in a tent, after all!)



Then I sewed the cut pieces inside out. This took about two hours of handwork, which then allowed me to turn it right-side out and stuff it. At the last minute, I decided to add a couple rows of ruffles, which I cut with loose measurements, pinned into pleats, and stitched across, bottom to top for a little extra poof.

IMG_4169After that, it was time to add the grosgrain ribbon I’d bought for the ties. I also had left the top corners free of stuffing and sewed them down for a more tapered fit. This turned out to make for much easier and more sturdy attachment of the ties.


A few more stitches later, voila! My very own bustle pad. I tried it on today; it seems to work great with my two bustles. Here’s a preliminary picture with one of them. (Again, apologies for the low light. I’m on location at Realm Makers, held this year at Villanova University.)



Watch for photos of the final effect in my Realm Makers wrap-up blog next week. In the mean time . . . why not try a new creative technique for your costume this week? You never know what you might discover.

Huzzah for hand-sewing! And happy steampunking, wherever you may be.

– – –

What about you? What was your first DIY sewing project? Or, if you haven’t done one yet, what would you like to try?


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