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Archive for the ‘Corsets’ Category

Women With Weapons - Comicpalooza 2013

Women With Weapons – Comicpalooza 2013

Whether your costume or your characters attire is a Steampunk ghost, pirate, vampire, mechanic, world explorer, airship crew member, a proper Victorian lady or something altogether different, I wanted to share helpful pointers from panels at Comicpalooza, this past Memorial weekend.

Since I’m a Lolita at Steamed, let’s start with Lolita fashion.

 Steam Lolitas - The Cup Cake Girls - Comicpalooza 2013

Steam Lolitas – The Cupcake Girls – Comicpalooza 2013

When developing a steampunk persona and the costuming for it, you may find yourself building a lot of drama and hardship to your characterization. However, Lolita personas are lighter, let’s just have fun, let’s  have a tea party. For that reason many women are attracted to Steampunk/Lolita fashion crossovers.  For a good start to Lolita fashion, take a nice white blouse, add a frilly petticoat and a skirt trimmed in lace.  Goodwill, Salvation army, and local thrift stores are excellent places to get accessories and props to build a costume.

A Cup Cake girl with the Steam Lolita panel

A Cup Cake girl with the Steam Lolita panel

Whether you’re a Lolita blending steampunk into your costume, a steampunk persona mixing Lolita concepts into your outfit or working with a straight stempunk characterization for your attire, one thing to keep in mind is well fitted garments flatter any figure. Garments that are too large are as bad as clothing that’s too small. Regarding corsets, use those with steel bones, avoid the plastic ones as they bend when it’s hot, and become lumpy. Queen size women should ensure their corsets fall a bit longer in  front. Corsets should close to about 4″ all the way for a comfortable, even fit. It’s less expensive to invest in a custom fitted corset, than buying a dozen inexpensive ones that don’t look or feel quite right.

Lady Blue - Comicpalooza 2013

Lady Blue – Comicpalooza 2013

Don’t foreget bustles, they add a lot to an outfit. They don’t make your butt look big; they make your skirt look full. Certain silhouettes require a bustle to fill out your skirt and add a polished, proportional look to your dress.

Steampunk Sweethearts - Comicpalooza 2013

Steampunk Sweethearts – Comicpalooza 2013

Other than a corset, the most expensive part of your costume may well be your shoes. Granny boots are always popular for steampnk. Consider investing in a good pair of Doc Martins that appeal to your steampunk self. For dancing at a a Steampunkb all you will need something more feminine. Cherries Jubilee is a great source for source for Steampunk shoes, her emeblishmens are amazing.

Regarding menswear, a man’s waistcoat or vest  needs to be long, such as one purchased from a big and tall store,

Shiny As A Copper Penney
Shiny As A Copper Penney

so it covers the shirt to the top of the trousers. That prevent the tummy from bulging under the vest. Pants should be worn at the waistline, around the belly button, not beneath it. Most men will find suspenders work best. Men should keep spats in mind, to add a touch of completion and pizazz to their outfit.

Steampunk Poision Ivy

Steampunk Poision Ivy

For both men and women, stemapunk costumes should look complete, from head to toe, for example don’t wear tennis shoes with a period dress. Also, though accessories are key to a Steampunk look, don’t’ go overboard, keep to the less is more fashion philosophy.

Lolita Alice and the Mad Hatter

Lolita Alice and the Mad Hatter

For examples and ideas, I’ve included a few photos I snapped at Comicpalooza in Houston Texas. So have fun and enjoy creating your or your characters’ Steampunk costumes.

Maeve Alpin is the author of four Steampunk/Romances: To Love A London Ghost, Conquistadors In Outer Space, As Timeless As Stone, and As Timeless As Magic.

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Charles Dickens and his wonderful books with strong fleshed out characters, exposing serious social issues, influence authors to this day. Also,  A Christmas Carol still influences Christmas celebrations. Most families include A Christmas Carol in their holiday tradition by reading from the book out loud or attending a play of it or watching one of the film versions on TV.

In Galveston Texas they go one step further, bringing the images in Dickens’ book alive in the annual Christmas festival, Dickens On The Strand. The 2012 Dickens On The Strand is even more special than usual as this year marks Charles Dickens  200th, Birthday, he was born February 7, 1812.

Here’s a merry ode to the festivities, just imagine Glen Campbell singing it to the tune of Galveston.

Galveston, Oh Galveston

Galveston, Oh Galveston

I still hear carolers singing

I still hear carolers singing

I still hear the bells ringing

I still hear the bells ringing

I dream of old fashioned fun

I dream of old fashioned fun
In Galveston

In Galveston

Galveston, Oh Galveston

Galveston, Oh Galveston

I still hear the children laughing

I still hear the children laughing
Still see the gentlemen so dapper and dashing

Still see the gentlemen, dapper and dashing

Still recall Queen Victoria waving to everyone

Still recall Victoria waving to everyone

As her carriage rolls down the strand

As her carriage rolls down the strand

In Galveston

In Galveston

Galveston, Oh Galveston

Galveston, Oh Galveston

reenactment of a civil war camp

reenactment of a civil war camp

With period nurses in white uniforms

With period nurses in white uniforms

See me hold a civil war replica gun

I held a civil war replica gun

At Galveston

At Galveston

At Galveston

At Galveston

Steampunk is recognized at this Victorian celebration with steampunk square, a steampunk costume contest, a steampunk street ball, and steampunk attendees and airship crews march in the Pickwick’s Lantern-light parade. It’s fun for the whole family and I had a blast. And the food and the shopping was incredible.

For additional steampunk photos taken at Dickens on the Strand, click here

Here’s another Christmas treat, for S. J. Drum’s A Very Steampunk Christmas, click here

May your Christmas be a steamy one, even if you didn’t make it to Galveston.

DSCN0034

Maeve Alpin 

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“The captain said everyone, so hold on to the blasted door and quit yer whining!”

Lolita Lynnette obviously wasn’t going to listen to a word I said. Which meant the only recourse I had was to listen to her. I gripped the doorframe, my filthy nails digging tiny crescent moons into the wood. For her part, Lynnette yanked and tugged until I was forced to let out the breath I’d sucked in. And then she yanked and tugged some more. She couldn’t have weighed more than a hundred pounds in full battle gear, but the woman had strength hidden deep in those tiny bones.

By the time she stopped torturing me, I was certain I’d die of asphyxiation. “I can’t breathe,” I eked out.

She huffed out a sigh and loosened the ties so infinitesimally I couldn’t be sure she hadn’t just pretended. “That’s all you’ll get. You look fabulous.”

Her tiny hands swooped over my sides as if to make sure I could feel just how much smaller my waist had become. I had no clue what the captain had in store for this landside excursion, but the inclusion of corsets served to define the phrase “hell on earth” for me.

~~*~~

Contrary to the story above, I love corsets. Correction. I love good corsets. Sometimes I still like the less-than-good ones though.

In fact, my first corsets fell very much into the latter category. Frederick’s of Hollywood. Plastic boning. Minimal waist reduction. And they held up for shit. On the flip side, they were cheap and I didn’t know for sure if I’d like wearing them.

It wasn’t until several months later that I got my first steel boned corset. I bought it from a friend and wore it for some of my author photos. Let me tell you, there’s nothing quite like being cinched up tighter than I’ve ever been in my life out in the desert around Vegas wearing five-inch heels. Did I mention that the corset was completely black and it was very, very sunny.

Crazy thing about that photoshoot. All the sweating? Totally made my skin glisten. Honestly, my skin has never looked as good in pictures as it did those. And the corset? Dear gods, that was when I fell in love. No, I didn’t suddenly look like a size 2, but holy hourglass, Batman!

That corset led to another (underbust this time, which I personally love less). And that led to my first ever custom corset… which I hate. I’m not sure what it is about that one but it… let’s just say it fits fine, but it’s quite painful to wear and it makes the girls look like a shelf–and not in a good way. After that debacle, I was leery about buying anymore. Surely I could make do with my cheap Freddie’s corsets and the two good ones I had?

Then I discovered Ms. Martha’s Corset Shoppe and learned what a really good corset feels like. As a well-endowed lady, a good corset does more than cinch my waist, it takes the pressure off my back from hauling the girls around all the time. I swear, I learned what it must feel like to be a B-cup… without losing my cleavage. In that corset, I understand how heroines can kick some butt in the steampunk novels we know and love, even when tied up securely.

Sadly, my every day life is less than corset-friendly, but I’m very much looking forward to my next opportunity to wear them–specifically the beautiful blue one that feels so amazing. Ms. Martha, if you happen to be reading, thank you and I hope to see you again soon.

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Today we welcome amazing YA writer Lia Habel. 

Lia Habel was born in Jamestown, NY, and has lived there the majority of her life. Her first book, Dearly, Departed, is a sweeping tale of zombie-living romance set in a cyber-Victorian/steampunk future. When Dearly, Departed sold, Lia was swimming in debt incurred from her studies and years of un- and underemployment, with only a few dollars to her name. Miss Habel enjoys attending anachronistic and steampunk events, watching zombie movies (she has watched over a hundred of them), commissioning ball gowns, and collecting Victorian and Edwardian books. She is incredibly grateful for the opportunities she has recently been given.

Being a neo-Victorian/steampunk clothes horse 101

by Lia Habel

Being asked to write about steampunk always terrifies me, because I hardly consider myself an authority on the subject. In fact, my personal vision of steampunk is far from pure, as I tend to mash it up with cyberpunk, dieselpunk, and as many pretty, sparkly things as I think I can get away with. Rules never suit me, even in a subculture made for breaking rules – which is why, when I attend steampunk events, I tend to dress like a little Victorian princess rather than an airship captain or mad engineer-by-day-burlesque-dancer-by-night. I have the greatest respect for airship captains and mad engineers-by-day-burlesque-dancers-by-night, but I like being that pop of sugary sweet pastel in the middle of the room, the one who maybe looks out of place. Philosophically, you need the lady to define the plight of the urchin, and vice versa.

But let’s leave philosophy behind. Let’s talk about clothes. Today I want to speak to the fantastic teenagers I’ve met at the schools I’ve visited, the ones who come up to me afterward and whisper, “I need to dress like this.” Okay, darlings. This is what you do. This is Lia’s 101 level class on being a neo-Victorian/steampunk clothes horse. The first two suggestions will be very broad, everything else gossip.

1.     Experiment. Don’t box yourself into one style right off the bat. If you have the opportunity and the inclination, try wearing something Elegant Gothic Lolita-esque and adorable, try dressing like a dandy (I don’t care if you’re male or female – tuxedos are sexy), try being a construct or automaton, try playing a dark and alluring Victorian cabaret singer. Playing dress-up is the best way to figure out which styles speak to you, what works for your budget, and what sartorial direction you want to wander off in first. And keep in mind that you can go back to the drawing board at any time, and have more than one style of dress!

2.    Figure out who you want to become. I once heard an academic talk about something called “performative language,” which is basically the idea that certain types of language act like magic spells, forcing something to become true through sheer power of words alone – for instance, saying, “I do” at the altar. It is “when saying something is doing something” (J.L. Austin – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Performativity). In steampunk the same holds true, for you can adopt any persona you like simply by saying it is so. Declare yourself a duke? Then I shall refer to you as, “Your Grace.” Want to be the head of some dark, esoteric cult? Fine, end the world, just don’t proselytize at my hotel room door. So you’re a young lady enrolled in the local boarding school? Is it true what they say about your literature professor, Mr. Brown? Everything can be done, and everything in a spirit of play. The whole wide world is open to you.

3.     EXPOSE! Visually wander through steampunk and Victorian fashion blogs and sites. I love doing this, as it gives me ideas for accessorizes to scout out, color combinations to try, and holes in my wardrobe I need to fill. Some of my favorite sites are http://treselegant.tumblr.com/, http://oldrags.tumblr.com/, and http://my-ear-trumpet.tumblr.com/. And if you can, visit a Victorian costume museum. They’re like candy shops full of delicious things you can never taste, but they’re a great way to educate yourself.

4.     MAKE! Alas, I used to make much more than I now do, but I’m very glad that I at least attempted a few outfits and suites of accessories. Making your own items gives you a sense of accomplishment and allows you to build a wardrobe that’s perfectly suited to your needs. Whether it’s by knitting, embroidering, welding, or sewing, there’s certainly some craft out there you can undertake. (And half the fun of thrift-store shopping and dumpster diving is repurposing the items!) If nothing else, maintaining a large steampunk wardrobe requires knowing how to properly repair and clean various garments. A few hours from now I’ll be sewing a torn petticoat by hand, for instance, and I see engineers fiddling with their mechanical arms and lighted top hats constantly at events, performing small repairs and adjustments.

5.    SHOP! I know some decry the fact that one can buy a suitable steampunk wardrobe, now, rather than being forced to make one – but I love it. I love knowing that my money goes to amazing artisans and seamstresses and designers, people who love the same things I do. I’m not the least bit ashamed. Now, certainly the best way I know of to expose yourself to these fantastic sources of frippery is to attend steampunk events with dealer rooms – normally there’s quite a good selection of corsets, hats, and accessories, which when added to a blouse and skirt will get you instantly on your way. Etsy.com is also a fantastic resource, and many steampunk brands with separate websites also maintain an Etsy presence, so you’re sure to find them. Etsy is also great for finding seamstresses willing to undertake custom projects, which is how I found the designer/seamstress to fill my first custom gown order. All in all, just talk to people – that’s the surest way to find what you want or learn how to build what you want to build.

“All right! We shall shop! What should we look for and what should we do with it?” My humble tips:

    – Corset and boots first. A good corset and a good pair of boots will form the foundation of any wardrobe. Try heavyred.com, clockworkcouture.com, corset-story.com, or fairygothmother.co.uk. For your first corset, I would recommend one in a color and material that can be worn on top of other items as your first layer of clothing. And be sure to get steel boning! Plastic looks cheap, will break, and won’t do anything for your figure.

    – Don’t try to find accessories for a gown after you’ve purchased the gown – you’ll end up scrambling and looking either too cute by half or hastily thrown together. I prefer my ensembles to build organically by purchasing what I like when I see it, regardless of whether it will go with anything I currently own. After a few months or a year, when I suddenly realize that I have an awful lot of navy blue items, that’s when I start searching for a navy blue dress to go with them. Suites of matching items can also usually be paired with a neutral-colored dress, thus freshening it up. So, my big hint: LIKE IT? BUY IT.

   –  Be sure you have the space and conditions to store your items. A lot of my gowns are heirloom-quality material, and I treat them as such. I store them in acid-free paper and boxes, or wrap them up with acid-free linen in storage. When I dry clean them, I insist that even the smallest items be dry cleaned to wedding gown preservation standards. (And then I dance for twelve hours in them, but at least I try to make up for it.)

     – What can you get cheaply? Long skirts, stockings, suitable-looking blouses (either from thrift stores or modern stores), some accessories (hit up craft store sales for fake flowers, ribbons that can be made into sashes and chokers, and interesting buttons to liven up plain jackets – and be sure to check out the wedding section for pretty white trims, usually insanely cheap), gloves and jewelry trinkets (believe it or not, some of my favorite gloves came from Hot Topic and Claire’s – you’d never know it to look at them).

    –  What should you TRY to get as cheaply as possible? Gloves, fans, and handkerchiefs. These are invariably lost, ruined, or stolen by shy, pining would-be suitors* after one long evening – I use my satin opera gloves once, usually. (*This has never happened.)

    – What should you spend the most money on? Your corsets (my favorite corset cost me $300, and I’ve had it for about 6 years now), your really high-class ball gowns (from places like Azrael’s Accomplice – http://www.azacclothingcouture.com/), your good black top hat, and your shoes (support! And buy them large enough to wear socks in).

      – What are some items no one ever thinks to buy but which are versatile or really punchy? Dickies/collars/sleeves – basically detachable shirt pieces that you can tie or pin into any dress you like in order to change up the style or fill in an area you’d rather be filled. Civil War shops are great for these, as they were a staple of 1860s wardrobes. Sashes and belts are a fantastic way to change up an outfit or cover an elastic skirt waistband (try Premier Designs Historic Clothing for the latter – http://www.premierclothing.com/Extra/21-home-page/). 

Now! Go forth and explore! And if you find a shop that’s really remarkable, point it out to me, will you?

~Lia Habel

http://liahabel.com/

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Hello darlings.

Yes, I’ve been away far too long. But Lolita Theresa has been working dilligently on a new steampunk novel for you. In the meantime, since you know how much I adore research, I thought I’d take you on a little trip into fashion.

I’ve always found it fascinating how our society and what’s happening in it can directly impact the way we dress. Today we’re going to look at the changing silhouette of the Victorian era as a mirror of the times. (Courtesy of http://lady-of-crow.deviantart.com/art/Victorian-Silhouettes-83666275 which provided the original artwork.)


In 1837, Victoria ascends to the throne. She’s young, only 18, and beautiful and the silhouette of the time reflects that ingénue-like frame. Times are changing, there’s research happening about dinosaurs in the Pleistocene epoch, Samuel Morse has exhibited his electric telegraph at the College of the City in New York, and there’s a Gag Law in place passed by the U.S. Congress suppressing the debate on slavery.

By 1842, Victoria would have been, 23, and trying to appear very grown up. The skirts are widening (as are the hips and bust line after bearing two children), and do so even more in 1847 when she would have already had five children.

In 1852, at the age of 33, Victoria is truly on her way to showing the world that the English are a world power. They control India, Tasmania, Australia, parts of Canada. Notice the amount (and expense) of ruffles and added lace in the silhouettes of both 1852 and 1857.

However by 1862 the silhouette changes drastically to more simple lines. Victoria’s beloved husband Albert died in December 1861. As Victoria grows older and more critical of the behavior of her wild son Prince Edward, you can almost see the stricture and behavioral mores of the Victorian era changing in 1867 as the skirts grow increasingly more tight and confining until 1882.

Know what surprised me most? Check out the difference between the first image 1837 and the third to last image of 1892. Not much difference is there? Ever hear how at the end we start thinking about the beginning. Makes me wonder if the same was happening with Queen Victoria. Or perhaps, like all fashion, they just started recycling things, and she just happened to be old enough for what was old to become new again *resurgence of 1980’s fashions, cough, cough*.

Notice that by 1902 the silhouette has become so relaxed there’s barely even a bustline anymore. It looks almost worn out and tired. Since Victoria died in 1901, I can see why. (Well that and Edward, who succeeded her, did tend to be a pretty relaxed sort of guy.)

These images also illustrates why it’s so critical to make sure you know precisely which decade (or in many cases which five year period) you are discussing in your steampunk writing. Sure you don’t have to be accurate all the time (as rayguns and dirigibles aren’t exactly accurate either), but if you put an enormous bustle fit for 1887 in your 1847 set book, you really ought to be able to explain why.

Next time you are writing a scene, ask yourself, what do you read into the changing clothing trends and how can it more aptly reflect your characters?

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It’s Monday and first thing off we have a winner to announce.  The winner of Tamora Pierce’s Tortall and Other Lands anthology is…

Danya

Congrats, please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail to claim your prize. 

Next off, I’m going to continue to my series on how I created some of my Steampunk outfits.  Even if you’re not the crafty sort (like me) you don’t necessarily need to go out and buy an expensive ready-made Steampunk outfit (as pretty as they are).  You may already own some of what you need.

Today’s outfit is something I pieced together mainly out of things I already owned.  I love costumes and have a trunk full of stuff.  I had no idea I even already had most of the stuff I needed to create a cute outfit until I wanted to put together a mostly black outfit. 

 

1.  The skirt is just a big, black lacy skirt I’d picked up somewhere at some point.  It’s one of those skirts that can be everything from Gothic to pirate to gypsy.  It’s full enough that I can wear it over a hoop and very comfortable.

2.  The black lace blouse is actually from Forever 21, of all places, as are the gloves.  I bought them last summer when they had a ton of victorian-ish stuff.  They often have great jewelry and you can’t beat the prices. 

3.  What ties this all together is the black corset belt.  This one is from Clockwork Couture but I nearly used a black waist cincher that I usually used for the Renaissance Faire. 

See, just a few easy pieces that you may already have — blouse, skirt, waist cincher/corset can be thrown together to create a basic outfit.  Then you can accessorize it depending on your style and what you already have.

4.  Because I’m obsessed with hats, I already owned the perfect hat.  I got this one from Ms. Purdy.  I actually have a few of her things and I really like them. 

5.  The necklace was a gift from a friend, but I love it and wear it with most of my Steampunk outfits.

6.  Finally, I added a tie-on bustle, which is exactly what it sounds — a big, ruched piece of fabric designed to look like a bustle you simply tie on top of your skirt.  There are a ton of types of these from punk mini ones made of net to elaborate and elegant ones.  I got this one on Etsy from Loriann.  Tie-on bustles are inexpensive ways of changing up your outfit and they’re a lot more comfortable to sit in.  This wasn’t something I had on hand, but that I bought to complete the outfit. 

View of tie-on bustle. Picture by Loriann.

 
See, easy.  Take stock of what you already have and don’t be afraid to repurpose.  That blouse from Renn Faire, skirt from your belly dancing days, or hat you bought for your cousin’s wedding may have other uses–especially if you’re willing to replace buttons, add gromets, or add a little flair to it/  Make a list of what you still need to complete your outfit and case thrift shops, the internet (I’ve found a lot of good costume pieces on ebay and Etsy), or perhaps even try to make it.  If you’re gearing up for something, I’ve found that it’s easier on the pocket-book (and less daunting) to plan ahead and buy one piece per paycheck until I have everything I need. 
 
Now, I just need some gadgets…has anyone seen my raygun? 

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I hope everyone had a great Mother’s Day.  We’re holding a Steampunk writing challenge over on the Writing Steampunk Yahoo group during the month of May.  There’s still time to join in–make sure to say you found us on Steamed.

We have quite a few prizes to give away today and if you don’t win we still have a contest going for Steampunk pocket watch.

First off we have a The Twisted Take of Stormy Gale mug and some romance trading cards from Christine Bell.

Hilde

Next we have the prize pack of  Steampunk e-books from Carina Press.

Laura Kaye

Finally, we have the ARC of The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross.

Jessie

Congrats to our winners, please email me at suzannelazer (@) hotmail to claim your prize and thanks to all who entered.  More contests will be coming.

I wanted to share how I put together some of my Steampunk outfits as I’m amassing more for the different panels and speaking engagements and such I’m starting to do.  I’m not a seamstress in any way shape or form, so I tend to buy things here and there over weeks, months, or even years and put them together.   Hopefully this will be some inspiration for your own Steampunk outfits.  A word of warning, I lean very much towards the Steampunk princess vein and don’t have a ton of gadgets–or even goggles.

Outfit #1 — Steampunk Lite

I needed an outfit that was Steampunky, but not full on for events where I’m speaking as a Steampunk writer, but not necessarily on Steampunk.

I started with this outfit from Steampunk Threads as a base.    I chose it because it was feminine and a bit old fashioned, but not specifically Victorian.  It could serve as a dress for anything from a tea to a school visit and could easily be Steampunked up.  For sake of time I bought this ready-made outfit, but something similar could be fashioned from thrift-store finds–or even your own closet.

Picture from Steampunkthreads.com

I added some really great boots from Clockwork Couture I already had.  These boots are unfortunately out of stock, but they have other amazing styles.

photo from clockworkcouture.com

I added a hat very much like this (because you know me and hats) only there’s more  green in mine.

Photo from Maritime Arts on Etsy

A pearl necklace with a little clock on it from my jewelry box added a little elegance.

I love gloves so I got these from Clockwork Couture, which go with several outfits, though I forgot to wear them when I did a panel at the Burbank Book Festival over the weekend.

Photo from clockworkcouture.com

Finally, I put it all together with a really great belt I found at Mad Girl Clothing.  They’re not up on the website yet (I bought it at the Renaissance Faire).    Any waist cincher or corset would probably work, though I didn’t want to go the full-on corset route for this particular outfit.   I liked this belt because there’s a little pocket for a pocket watch and an additional pocket that’s just the right size for some business cards and a handful of buttons.  I don’t have a picture of it by itself, but here’s the whole outfit.

So, what do you think?  Subtly Steampunk? Well…perhaps the belt is a bit much but I love it.  But now I want a bigger hat…

Are you building a Steampunk outfit?  Where are your favorite places to find things?

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