Steampunk Fairy – Part Two

Hi guys!

So I explained all the background to this project in a fairly rambling post last Sunday.  Just as a refresher, here’s my sketch 🙂

Steampunk Fairy Costume | Strings Attached

I have been working on it fairly steadily (slowly, because it’s AP season and school is crazy), but not in any consistent way, which means a lot of the parts have been started but none of them have been satisfactorily finished. Gah. All my materials are sitting in this jumbled box right now, which is pretty much how my brain feels.

Steampunk Fairy Costume | Strings Attached

So … the hoop skirt is where I initially started, so I guess it’s a good place to start now.

Unfortunately, this project required math to start, so I got out my sketchbook and started planning. With two measuring tapes, I established that I wanted a length of about 24″ and a bottom diameter of no more than 26″ with a total of 6 hoops about 4 inches apart.

I sketched the bell curve I wanted out on graph paper, using the bottom and top diameters to scale the drawing. Then I marked where the hoops would be and figured out how far the intersections were from the bottom width, to establish the hoops diameters.

If that convoluted description didn’t make any sense to you, here’s my sketch.

here's my sketch, drawn out to scale with the diameters of the hoops marked
here’s my sketch, drawn out to scale with the diameters of the hoops marked

I plugged the diameters into a calculator to find the circumferences, multiplied that by 2/3 (because the skirt is open at the front) and I had my hoop lengths.

Steampunk Fairy | Strings Attached

I went to the hardware store and bought 22 feet of 1/2″ flexible plastic tubing for the hoops. At a craft store, I bought this Iced Espresso metallic wax stuff to use to make the plastic tubing look like metal.

I cut the tubing into the lengths my math told me I needed and got working on making them look metal. To make the wax paint stick better, I roughly sanded the tubing a bit, creating texture. Then I rubbed the paint on, per the directions.

during the painting process
during the painting process

It totally worked. Seriously, it looks amazing.

Steampunk Fairy Costume | Strings Attached

I think they honestly look like metal pipes. And that’s pretty cool 🙂

From there, I went on to the corset.

As I mentioned in my last post, I found my corset fabric at the LA garment district. It’s a stiff, coarsely woven, dark red upholstery fabric, which I got for $7 a yard. And I only needed one yard. So yeah, I’m not yet broke on this project 🙂

the corset fabric :)
the corset fabric 🙂

I traced the back panel piece and the side back piece for the corset and then removed the seam allowance that would have connected them (because the edges will be covered in bias tape instead of sewn). I then took an inch off each side of the center back panel (from the center back) to allow for room to lace up the corset.

a view of the back panel, roughly pinned in place
a view of the back panel, roughly pinned in place

This part was actually pretty nerve-wracking for me because I couldn’t really try the corset on as I went long. I tried to justify not doing an actual mock-up by reminding myself that I’ve used this pattern before and it fit just fine, but then I was still freaking out. So I went looking for the previous, unaltered version of this corset only to find that I’ve somehow lost it.

So I’m flying blind with this one and hoping that any fitting problems can be fixed at the center back—the only place I will be able to easily alter the fit. Bleh. Someday I will learn to take the time to make a proper mock-up. Someday that is not today.


Anyway, possible fitting problems aside, I think I actually did I fairly decent job with the construction. The lining is made of muslin and has 1/2″ bias tape casings sewn over the seam allowances for the boning to sit in.

Steampunk Fairy | Strings Attached

The outer layer and the lining get basted wrong-sides-together and then the edges are finished with bias tape made of the main fabric. Unfortunately, the red fabric is way too thick to make into bias tape, so I have to go to my local fabric store in the hopes of finding something that matches.

I also need to buy black ribbon and grommet tape to finish the hoop skirt with. And I’m super busy so I haven’t had time to do either of those things.

The last exciting thing I did on the project was start working on the accessories.

At a garage sale, I bought this tiny pop gun. It was kinda grimy, but still functional and small enough to be a cute addition to the costume.

Steampunk Fairy | Strings Attached

I’m imagining a lot of little steampunky trinkets hanging from the belt or hardware on the pants to add whimsy, and this is hopefully going to be one of those things.

I stared by sanding the plastic down a little so the paint would stick better and removing the keychain from the base of the handle. Then I started painting.

Steampunk Fairy | Strings Attached

I used a combination of the wax paint I mentioned above, another brand’s version of the same paint in gold, and some black acrylic paint. Because I didn’t want to get any of my sister’s paintbrushes dirty, I used cu-tips.

Steampunk Fairy | Strings Attached

Once I had the first coats on, I started going in with the black to make it look old and used.

Steampunk Fairy | Strings Attached

I’m super happy with how it turned out! It looks so steampunk-y.

I also bought this little leather pouch which is made to slide onto a belt. I cleaned it off with a damp paper towel and worked some leather stuff into it.

Steampunk Fairy Costume | Strings Attached

It’s still kinda dirty, but I like the uneven look. This is not a super refined fairy.

here's how the pouch opens
here’s how the pouch opens

That’s as far as I’ve gotten so far. I’m hoping to finish the hoop skirt and start the bustle soon; I think I’m going to leave the corset for after my AP euro test so that I can approach it with some actual sanity.

Thanks, as always, for reading! What do you think?

–Samantha 🙂



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