Posts Tagged ‘costumes’

gail carriger (2)

Gail Carriger made a book tour stop in Houston, Texas for her new release, PRUDENCE : The Custard Protocol: Book One. In this latest novel, Alexia’s girl, now all grown up, with all the spunk of her mother and then some ventures to the exotic land of India. Her high priority, top secret mission involves tea, vampires and weremonkeys. 

At Murder By the Book, Gail shared with her fans that she did a lot of research for this novel as it is set in India. The mythology used in the book including that of the Rakshasas, India vampires, and the Vanara, India weremonkeys is accurate. In her research she also uncovered the interesting historical tidbit that Bombay was originally several islands the English engineered into one by means of land reclamation projects.

Ms.Carriger also discussed how she comes up with such interesting names for her characters. She uses names for humor. Sometimes the name just comes to her as she’s writing like it did for her main character, Prudence. She also looks names up in Victorian registries and on tomb stones. Sometimes she likes a word so much she just adds a letter or letters at the beginning or end to make a name.  Another way she choses names is what she calls cookies, meaning it’s a treat for anyone willing to do the research. She’ll pull a name from a real historical character or the name will have a hidden meaning or she’ll spell a word backwards for a name. One such cookie is Lord Akeldama. If you don’t know where and what Akeldama is, google it. It’s interesting. I have to say my favorite new character name in Prudence is Spoo, she’s a lively member of the Spotted Custard’s crew.

At the book signing, Ms. Carriger was asked how she explains Steampunk to people who aren’t familiar with it? She says, “Imagine living in a time period where you can take a hot air balloon to the moon.” Speaking of fiction genres, she also divulged that she likes military sci-fi including Rachel Bach’s Paradox series and Valor’s Choice by Tanya Huff. And she likes some romance in her sci-fi reads. Ms. Carriger even has a book club on Goodreads where you can read along with her. A book she likes is chosen each month.  Also on My Book The Movie blog you can see who she would chose to cast for Prudence if it were a movie.

I read Prudence and I love the line,

Rue was moved to italics by the gesture. “Mine?”

As you can see from that sentence, PRUDENCE is as charming and humorous as all of Ms. Carriger’s books.

She could be a member of the Spotted Custard crew, perhaps Greaser Phinkerlington or even Spoo.

She could be a member of the Spotted Custard crew, perhaps Greaser Phinkerlington or even Spoo.

In PRUDENCE, the adventure begins when Dama gives Prudence an airship, which she paints to look like a lady bug and she names it the Spotted Custard. Of course her good friends Prim, Percy and Quesnel come along. Intrigue and espionage ensue, which Prudence thinks is all due to the special tea Dama has sent her for but it turns out it’s also about supernatural beings in India, the vampiric Rakshasas and the Vanara, weremonkeys.  I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say of course in the end Prudence manages to save the day.

The book is a funny, sweet, fresh delight. It’s ever so creatively original – after all it’s by Gail Carriger. I highly recommend PRUDENCE for anyone who likes good books and of course it’s a must read for all Gail Carriger fans.

Here is a video from Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego 03/17/15

Other Gail Carriger related post on Steamed:

Book Monday: Timeless by Gail Carriger

Maeve Alpin Reviews Gail Carriger’s Timeless
How To Make A Proper Pot Of Tea by Gail Carriger 
In Which We Get Cozy with Gail Carriger
In Which Author Gail Carriger visits

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Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 26 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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There’s still room in the Online Steampunk Writing Class I’m teaching the month of November. All levels and genres are welcome. If you’re working on a Steampunk WIP for NaNoWriMo consider joining us–at least to have support and info at your fingertips. If your working on a Steampunk WIP (or have an idea for one) and not doing NaNo, consider joining us as well.

Today I need your help, if you please. I have a Steampunk Princess costume and I need to make it more, well, Steampunk.

I’m not sure if I want to do anything to the dress itself. I’m not a very clever seamstress. My friends helped me re-purpose an old prom dress and a formal skirt to make this, along with about 20 yards of ruffles.

But I need to add something besides the clockhand tiara. Otherwise I look like an ordinary princess. That, my friends, would never do!

That is why I need your help.

What sort of gadgets would a Steampunk Princess have? Clockhand throwing knife hairpins? A delicate wrist-mounted ray gun painted gold with little rhinestones? Throwing star tiara?

What would a Steampunk Princess wear? Do I sew gears on my gloves? Add something to the gown?

I need some suggestions for some easy DIY ideas.

Just a note, I sew things with glue guns so I’m looking for ideas that I can make cheaply and easily (and I mean easily, I’m craft-impaired–remember the ball gown fiasco.)

But the hubby does have a welder and metal cutting stuff….

So, who has an idea for me?

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Okay, so it’s a horrible pun. But really, if you’re looking at the historical development over time of the bustle, could you resist? The fact remains that one of the classic elements of refined lady steampunk wear is the bustle. But what people seem to forget is that the bustle wasn’t always part of Victorian fashion and actually changed in style during the course of the Queen’s reign. If you’re going to use a bustle you might want to know exactly what decade (or in some cases as little as five year span) your character is from.

In the early Victorian era, women’s dresses didn’t even sport bustles. From the period of 1837 to 1860, skirts were still the wide-hooped variety you’d see in the costuming of the movie Gone With the Wind. It wasn’t actually until between 1865 that skirts, though still wide with extra crinolines, thank you, started sporting extra fullness toward the back, with an overskirt pulled back over an underskirt.

US patent 131840 circa 1872

Closer to 1870, this had developed into a padding placed beneath the skirt to accentuate that fullness toward the rear. From 1870 to 1875 you begin to see skirts of enormous volumes of fabric (like those designed by Worth) that is in cascades, and bunches, drapes, folds and dragging trains, augmented by a low-placed bustle (that actually would have hit about at the back of your knees – oh joy) to provide fullness to the fabric arrangement.

Dimity bustle of 1881

By 1875 to 1880 the skirting becomes more fitted to the form and nearly cylindrical in the front, yet still gathered in trains toward the back, with low fitted bustles that are more padding to augment the long-curved bodices in fashion. Ruching, pleats, full draping of fabric is still in vogue as are slightly smaller trains.

From the height of the bustle's glory

In 1880 to 1885 the bustle begins to emerge as more of a necessity as the gowns, nearly now all floor length unless you happen to be dragging about a train for an evening gown), sport even more of the overskirt gathered to the back in ever elaborate arrangements, which are so heavy that they drag the skirt down without proper support. The look of a shelf off the back of your bum is at it’s height and bustles come in any number of arrangements from collapsible wire cages, to ruffled, many layer long bustles meant to run the length of the skirt and be secured about the waist.

While still part of fashion, the bustle begins to shrink a bit in 1890 to 1895, probably in response to the enormous ballooning of the tops of ladies’ sleeves (in what’s called the Gibson girl or mutton sleeve look). The skirts still have also widened out a bit into more of a bell shape and are not so confining as they were in the 1875-1880 period, leaving room to wear a bustle without it being too evident, yet allowing it to make the waist, which is nipped in, look smaller. And really, by about 1893, the bustle has been reduced to just a pad.

A variety of mesh bustle designs

In 1895 to 1900, the sleeves shrink back down, big hats take center stage and the bustle is more of a remnant designed to add fullness, as the silhouette slopes forward in a changing corset style which also forces the rear to stick out.

The bustle still remains a fashion item up until about 1905, in the Edwardian period, when waistlines and the silhouette begin to meld together into a more tubular type skirting.

Like fashion, bustles were an evolving item. Knowing just how much to put behind you, and how to make it look, can peg you character from early to late Victorian. So, how much bustle will you be sporting?

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Behind every woman is a good partner. Behind every queen is a prime minister. And behind every Victorian lady is … a bustle. With the Steampunk Steamboat event approaching in July in Nashville, TN, I wanted to make a steampunk costume to wear. And for me, that means a Victorian outfit. However, you can’t make a Victorian dress without the foundation garments, because they won’t hang properly. So the thing to do is to start with the bustle petticoat from Truly Victorian.

Then it was off to the fabric store for white cotton sheeting. I got 100% cotton, but ladies, think about ironing 27 feet of ruffles. Not gonna happen. So the next time I make this up, I’ll use a 65/35 poly/cotton blend.

Lay out the pattern, cut out and mark the pieces, and you have a pile-o-stuff on your table.

The pieces are large and the instructions clear, so it doesn’t take long for this to go together. Even the boning channels are straightforward, and you can buy the bones–big honkin’ metal ones with plastic tips that won’t poke through your fabric–from Truly Victorian, already cut to size. I can’t tell you how much time and aggravation that saves.

Now, you’ll notice that the bones don’t look very bustle-y. That’s because we now have to put the bend in the bones. You sew strings into the seam allowance on each end of the bones, then pull them together over your butt and tie them, essentially forming hoops.

Then it’s time for the ruffle overlay. Since the only person who can carry off the bony look successfully is Kate Moss, I don’t want the bones showing through my skirt. One must maintain the element of mystery, after all. So over the whole contraption goes a ruffled overlay to soften the lines of the bustle and hold the skirt off the bones a bit.

Ruffles: 27 feet of them. It took me a week to sew them–and since you lay them on top of the overlay pieces, you need to finish them or they’ll ravel with use. So that means sewing lace and ribbon on top of each one–meaning you sew all that acreage three times. Can you even imagine doing this in Victorian times, without a sewing machine?

But voila, the finished product is worth it–and now we have the foundation to build the rest of the costume on. I’ll post about the skirt construction in a few days.

Happy birthday, Steamed!

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Thank you so much to everyone who entered the photo contest. I let the tot (the kid in the goggles in the last contest post) pick her personal favorite…

…and the winner is…

(drumroll please)

The “SteamCon Hussies” from SteamCon in Seattle, (Lolitas Deborah, Elizabeth, and Marie-Claude) as entered by Deborah Schneider.


Deborah, as the one who entered the photo, you’re the one who gets the prize! Please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday!

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to enter the costume photo contest. Things have been crazy so I’m extending the deadline untill Nov. 15. Send pics of your steampunk best to steamedblog (@) hotmail — don’t forget to spread the word!

steampunk baby

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Happy Halloween!

I was pleasantly surprised to see steampunk costumes at the tot’s school, including a gentleman air pirate, steampunk Jane from Tarzan, and a cadre of identically dressed steampunk lolitas in fishnets and mini top hats.

Anyone going steampunk for Halloween?

I would like to announce Steamed’s First Annual Steampunk Costume Contest!

1). email your low-res steampunk costume pics to steamedblog (@) hotmail with “Steamed Costume Contest” in the header. It does not have to be from Halloween, it can be from Steamcon or the Dickens Ball or what have you. Appropriate pictures please! This is not an over-18 site. Please include what name you’d like listed on the site and an email addy so if you win I can contact you. We have the right to not put up your photo if we feel it’s not suitable for general viewing or it’s not steampunk (we’re not going all purist, but this is not a general costume contest, feel free to explain in the email if you feel you need to).

2) There will be three categories a) Best Costume b) most unique and c) steampunk kids.

3) Group pics are welcome as long as a majority are in steampunk dress. You only get one prize (sorry). Please make sure you have permission to post it (that goes for all pictures, we have the right to take them down if they’re not yours to put up or others in the photo object).

4) Pics must be received by Friday, November 6th at 9 PM EST. Feel free to spread the word about the contest. Winners will be announced sometime on or around November 7th. The winner in each category receives a steampunk tiara or an aviator scarf (if I can find them, I recently moved). I reserve the right to substitute prizes.

5) Have fun, be creative, and most of all, have a safe Halloween!!!

On another note, Third Rail Projects in New York is having an amazing steampunk haunted house. It looks amazing!

Have a safe and happy Halloween, everyone!

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