This past weekend Gwendolyn and I attended Teslacon 3. It was an amazing experience and I can't wait to attend next year. We had never done Steampunk before and were struck by how welcoming the community was and how passionate. Costumes ranged from airship crews to military to adventurers to chimney sweeps to ladies in bustle gowns. Throw in a dalek, a unicorn, a Data Sherlock Holmes, and a few Star Wars characters. With 1500 people, there was a lot of variety. Of course, I took my inspiration from history, though I didn't want to make anything "normal". My first outfit was inspired by a jacket sold by Augusta Auctions. I've lusted after it for years, but never had it seemed right for the occasion. But for this it was just perfect. I made some alterations to the design for practical and preferential reasons. Our character inspiration came from two sisters who were dancers at the Follies Bergeres. We could be fashionable without having to be demure. No one ever saw it, but the skirt has a ruffled can-can petticoat underneath with knickers that match my boots!
I split the bodice up into separate pieces, making it adjustable; a cotton short-sleeve blouse, a silk taffeta waist, a wool vest, and a navy wool jacket. The hat is just a simple sailor hat made of buckram covered in silk taffeta and trimmed in grosgrain ribbon. The trimming on the skirt is antique silk gimp; what was left over after I removed the rows of narrow gimp for trimming the bodice.
The collar could stand up or lay down as I'll show later. Yet another adjustable portion of the ensemble.
The interior of the jacket was lined with silk taffeta, the edges from cream wool to match the vest. All of the gimp came from the antique trim. The vines and checkerboards were hand embroidered with wool floss and silk button twist. The inserts of cream wool on the outside were piped to finish them off. The buttons are all german silver.
The collar has five points over all, the gimp trim running in a fairly random pattern. Not always easy to do for someone who is neurotic about symmetry! The embroidery changed only slightly on the jacket, due to using my own trim (finding a perfect match would have been impossible).
The vest is cream wool with a polished cotton back. The embroidery design vaguely resembles the original, though I chose to greatly alter the frog design. You can see my fight for symmetry still winning in this piece over the original design.
The waist is silk taffeta backed in cotton. The center front line has boning in it and hooks closed. The buttons are decorative.
The jacket can be worn multiple ways. This shows it closed with thread loops creating an asymmetrical front line. Here you can see the inlays of cream wool in the front and sleeve cuffs. Interestingly, I found this jacket to have no darts for shaping. Instead, there is a seam which runs perpendicular to the inlays, just above them. This allows for shaping the jacket to the body. I can't say that fitting process was easy at all and I have a great deal of respect for the designer who came up with that idea!
The way I chose to wear the jacket was buttoned open with the collar flipped up in back. There is a fair amount of interfacing in the collar for that reason, though I should have put in more.
Detail of how all of the trim continues around the neck line and pairs with the vest.
The inlays continue around to the back, extensions of the front overlapping. Having the piped seam in front for shaping also allows the bottom section to extend out and become a buttoned down flap. The tail is attached to the jacket, though it appears to have originally been attached at the bottom of the waist. The buttons on the tail are wrapped with silk cord.