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View Full Version : I'm interested in doing Steampunk, but where do I start?


pbg146
04-28-2013, 05:05 PM
Hey all!

So I've always been fascinated by steampunk fashion and recently it's really grabbed my attention and I'm wanting to know more about it. I'd really like to make something I could wear to cons, though I have no idea where to start.

Anyone willing to help?

Boreotheria
04-28-2013, 09:38 PM
What's your level of sewing skill and what's your definition of "make"?

For myself, I started out just wearing a couple of pseudo-Victorian items as part of my regular outfit, and it seems like every con I go to, I add something else and it's turning into a costume. So far it seems to be centered around a poet blouse (from a thrift store), a velveteen jacket (from a sadly defunct women's clothing chain), a cincher corset (from a local corset-maker who sells her stuff at cons) and some slightly piratical lace-up boots (from Zappos). I say it's edging into costume territory because I got asked to pose for a picture this year at the con.

In fact, a lot of the people I see in steampunk garb at these things are wearing a mix of well-made artisan items, off-the-shelf new or vintage real clothing items (i.e. stuff made to be worn, not commercial costumes that are cheaply constructed), and stuff they made themselves. A few people wear outfits that they made all on their own, but they tend to be the professional prop-makers and tailors/seamstresses who also sell their stuff to other costumers.

Some people construct a costume around a character or alter-ego that they made up, so that they aren't wearing a random assortment of parts, but have a costume that comes together functionally and makes sense. I have an idea for a field scientist or naturalist character, which is based on my own real-life interests and expertise. I'd probably wear something like a Victorian hunting outfit that would be comfortable in the wilderness of whatever climate I was in, and carry a bag and a pick for rock samples, a loup or magnifier for examining specimens, a sketchbook, and maybe some little cages to catch animals (most likely the weirdest plush toys I could find).

pbg146
04-28-2013, 10:08 PM
I've been sewing for years. I've been makign costumes for about ten years now. Not quiet sure how to define what I mean by 'make'....

How do you know what will work and what won't?

Boreotheria
04-28-2013, 10:23 PM
Okay then, you have tons more experience sewing than I do. :P I just meant that without knowing that, I have no idea if someone wants to "make" a costume by assembling it out of acquired parts, or sew/craft everything themselves.

What will work and what won't ... well, if it fits and you can justify your character wearing it, that's a good start. In terms of "is it steampunk", it's hard to be exclusionary -- steampunk is about creative anachronism, and you could define it as having a Victorian aesthetic but not necessarily, since many steampunks are branching out into costume inspired by other cultures of the 19th century, or timeshifting it earlier into Regency or later into Edwardian.

pbg146
04-28-2013, 10:41 PM
I do a mix of making things from scratch and modifying already made items.

Alright. At least I have someplace to start now.XD

Mehdia
04-29-2013, 01:57 AM
For someone who has never done steampunk, I would suggest at least figuring out what kind of character you want to cosplay and then building from there with clothing that type of person would wear and then adding accessories. For me, steampunk is more about the Victorian style with flare added in the way of jewelry, accessories, and other things to steampunk it. Since you said you've been drawn to the genre for a while, that will help you to know what kind of accessories will work for your costume.

pbg146
04-29-2013, 04:05 PM
Alright cool.

I was told by a friend I should look into finding book about steampunk. Are there any book you guys recommend?

GirlFromTexas
04-30-2013, 02:27 AM
Hrm, not really. Typically it's best to just find a Victorian era styled outfit you like and just make adjustments for Steam Punk. Of course, it doesn't have to be Victorian styled clothing. I've seen amazing Oriental Steam Punk with kimonos and Scandinavian Steam Punk with a lot of furs and leather mixed together. I've even seen a cowboy with gears! It really does depend on what you want to do, and what you feel like doing.

pbg146
05-01-2013, 11:06 AM
Hrm, not really. Typically it's best to just find a Victorian era styled outfit you like and just make adjustments for Steam Punk. Of course, it doesn't have to be Victorian styled clothing. I've seen amazing Oriental Steam Punk with kimonos and Scandinavian Steam Punk with a lot of furs and leather mixed together. I've even seen a cowboy with gears! It really does depend on what you want to do, and what you feel like doing.

Those sound awesome! I'll definitely look into those too.

Scorpion89
05-02-2013, 07:46 PM
Here is a good starting point,

http://steampunkworldsfair.com/

pbg146
05-03-2013, 10:57 AM
Here is a good starting point,

http://steampunkworldsfair.com/

Cool thanks!

BettieVonB
05-03-2013, 10:17 PM
go to deviantart.com and do a general search for Steampunk or steampunk characters. The ideas will flood forth! Good luck! Also, not sure where you are located but there is a steampunk store in San Fran in Haight-Ashbury. Lots of vintage and really interesting jewelry.

BettieVonB
05-03-2013, 10:24 PM
Ooo, you can watch The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen for a good film. For a little cliche you can watch Wild Wild West with Will Smith for a more "American West" type cowboy steampunk ideas.

Ororo Monroe
05-04-2013, 08:50 AM
How much of the genre have you read? Steampunk started out as a term used to describe a style of literature.

Boreotheria
05-04-2013, 10:18 AM
True, there's steampunk as a genre of fiction, and there's steampunk as a fashion/art motif.

My favourite work of steampunk fiction is Alan Moore's graphic novel "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". Apparently the movie was awful but the comic is quite fun and creepy. The premise is that some real world 18th- and 19th-century fictional heroes (Dr. Jekyll, Captain Nemo, Allan Quatermain, etc.) are actually real, and the kind of technology that appears in their stories is also real. (I will warn for content, because Alan Moore is fond of a) sexual violence and b) ironic racism.)

You could also go one step further back and read actual Victorian speculative fiction, which arguably was the inspiration for steampunk. H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine" is the obvious one.

All that said, I would argue that you don't need to read the stories in order to participate in the art and fashion side of it. If you read the same stories that everyone else has you might just end up with a narrower idea of what steampunk "should" be, and overlook things that you might have come up with to really make your own stuff original.

pbg146
05-05-2013, 05:57 PM
I was more of looking for books on fashion. I'd just kinda like some extra ideas and maybe some ways to make certain things. I did stumble upon Steampunk: Gear, Gadgets, and Gizmos by Thomas Willeford and will definitely be going to the library to get that, but I wasn't sure if there were other books out there that would be good.

Mehdia
05-06-2013, 05:58 PM
You might want to look into 1000 Steampunk Creations (http://www.amazon.com/000-Steampunk-Creations-Neo-Victorian-Fashion/dp/1592536913) too to get some ideas.

Ororo Monroe
05-10-2013, 09:01 AM
Mr. Willeford's book is very good for the how to. I hope you visit his webpage. Simplicity has a line of Steampunk costume. No comment. Many historical patterns can be made into Steampunk. Laughing Moon Mercentile, Truly Victorian, and Folkwear come to mind. I'd also suggest looking a actual clothing from the Victorian Era (at least to start with). Peterson's Magazine, Goodey's Magazine, etc. Fashion by the Kyoto Costume Institute has some great examples. Masterpieces in Women's Costume by Aline Berstein is another great one. The author looks at museum collections and it has patterns for some of the dresses. Finally, search for Steampunk costumes on this site. There are several excellent ones.

www.girlgeniusonline.com
www.airshipambassador.com
www.steampunkmagazine.com

Edit: Harper's. I forgot Harper's magazine. Lots of late Victorian stuff there.

Mehdia
05-10-2013, 05:46 PM
I totally second the book Fashion by the Kyoto Costume Institute. I got that one as a Christmas gift from my parents and it has some amazing clothing in it that could spark some real creativity.

Beachbead
06-28-2013, 09:34 AM
thrift stores are your friend do not feel ashamed to go into one some stores have really cool stuff for super cheap, my first steampunk outfit I found almost everything I needed for it, shirt, pants, and leather vest. Also go to surplus stores as well.

pbg146
06-28-2013, 11:49 AM
thrift stores are your friend do not feel ashamed to go into one some stores have really cool stuff for super cheap, my first steampunk outfit I found almost everything I needed for it, shirt, pants, and leather vest. Also go to surplus stores as well.

I frequent local thrift stores often. I even visit the flea market once in a while. I haven't been to a surplus stores, though I don't think there are any in my area. I will have to look and see.