At my house, October means more than just crunching leaves, apple cider and pumpkins. October means Teslacon is only a few weeks away.
This annual immersion Steampunk convention—frequently voted the best in the country—takes place in Madison, WI, each November. It’s four days of Steampunk hijinks, imagination, and fandom-related business. And unlike other cons, where one may choose to cosplay or not, Teslacon in a full-costume convention 24 hours a day from arrival to departure.
Every year my cosplay skills take a leap. Year One (Year IV — The Congress of Steam) I was afraid to sew anything and hacked together costumes from my own wardrobe and what I could supplement with from Goodwill. Year Two (Teslacon Year V — Journey to the Center of the Earth) I got a sewing machine (the scrappy way!) and make my first bustle skirts and ball gown.
This year, every day’s outfit and my ball gowns will feature items I’ve sewn myself or altered significantly, from undergarments on up to the crown of my head. This year’s theme is the Wild Wilde West, which naturally offers endless opportunities for invention.
For my first planned costume, I decided to go with a southwest color scheme and motif that will feature European steampunk-like themes enhanced with jewelry and accessories inspired by Native American designs.
The anchor of the whole costume is a six-layer ruffles skirt hand-dyed by me. And the kicker is: I made this beautiful skirt from a queen-sized bed sheet: a wedding gift that has now worn out after seven years of service.
I scoured the internet for an easy ruffle skirt tutorial and found this one at Chica and Jo’s. It’s designed for a child’s skirt, but the ruffle tier calculator works for adult proportions, too.
I cut my sheet into strips, each longer than the last, accounting for a really large circumference to fit over the wedding slip that’s serving as my largest of two petticoat.
And then came the dyeing. I wanted my skirt to match this Goodwill-sourced jacket, which I’ve worn for cosplay several years now.
In order to do this, I simply matched the dye of my stripes to the colors in the jacket. Many of you know I favor the easy-peasy, eco-friendly process of Bengala dyes, which give the beautiful soft Southwest colors I needed.
A perfect match!
The next step was the dye the strips. I didn’t take any photos of that part of the process, but it looked similar to this dye batch, done earlier in the year.
And afterwards, voila! Gorgeous colors that match the jacket, just like I’d hoped.
All I had to do from there was sew up the skirt using the simple and effective directions from Chica and Jo’s. I chose to do the extra top-stitching task, as recommended by the tutorial, and it really helped finish things off.
And … here it is! My Southwest steampunk circle skirt, made from an upcycled bed sheet. My skirt has been tucked away in the Teslacon “locker” and is ready to go for the big weekend.
One costume down, 5 more to go. Wild, Wild West … here we come!