Friday, April 26, 2013

Steampunk Airship Pirate: Part I

Many of you were very excited about Hank's steampunk jetpack and ray gun that I blogged about recently.  Unfortunately he hasn't gotten a chance to do any further test flights as it's already on display at the Oshkosh Public Museum in anticipation of their upcoming exhibit in June.  But it was really fun to watch him work on it.  Every night after scheming all through supper, he'd race out to the barn to tinker a bit more.  Well, now it's my chance to get in on the action.  I'm happy to announce that the museum has commissioned me to create a steampunk Airship Pirate costume!  Think Ottoman Empire meets Turkish dancer meets Victorian aristocrat and throw in a bit of Johnny Depp because who doesn't love that pirate?!

Admittedly, I was a bit stumped by this request.  To me steampunk style immediately conjures up Victorian wasp-waist, bustle dresses and rakishly perched hats.  Pirates?  With turbans?  Not so much.  But I did a bit of research, and apparently this character is legit in the steampunk genre although not as commonly portrayed.  Historically, it makes perfect sense.  Throughout the mid and late 1800s, the Ottoman Empire was in decline, with many of its territories being colonized by Britain and France. And the "Golden Age of Airships" began in 1900 with Count von Zepplin's ground-breaking designs.  So it makes sense that rogue Turks, angered over their crumbling economy, took to the skies in their airships and began a reign of terror across Europe, laying waste to...the other airships?...that had recently destroyed their way of life.  Anyways, let's get to the sewing, shall we?

I did a bit of drafting and fabric shopping and came up with a four-piece outfit:  a long, under-bust, black tapestry vest over a cropped blue, silk moire jacket over a linen shirt paired with burgundy satin bloomers.  Add a turban, black boots, sword, lots of brass and buckles, possibly a face veil, and you've got a bonafide steampunk airship pirate!  And in case you had assumed that this was for a man, you assumed wrong.  Turkish woman didn't want to be colonized anymore than the men did.

After I had an idea of where I wanted to go with this, I scoured my collection for a suitable pattern.  I wanted all three pieces to be made with a similar cut so they would layer together well (I hate it when my voluminous blouse bunches up under my fitted vest).  I decided to use this bolero jacket pattern because it's a pretty basic cut through the shoulders.  The front closure, sleeves and hemline can be easily altered depending on which piece I'm sewing.

I started with the linen/cotton shirt.  Any self-respecting pirate needs this wardrobe basic of a linen shirt.  Using view D, I seamed it up the front, leaving a 3" opening at the center top.  I lengthened the shirt and added side vents.  I hemmed off the leftover linen for a sash.  Pretend that black belt is holding a sword holster on her back.  Or Hank's raygun.  Cool, huh?

Then it was onto the jacket.  Still using the same pattern pieces, I scooped out the neckline and added extra overlap in the front for buttons or lacings.  I cropped the body to waist-length and the sleeves to 3/4-length.  I also added front and back darts to give it a bit more shaping.  Remember this is going under the tapestry vest, so I didn't want it too boxy.  The jacket is lined.

I notched the sleeves and added black braid.  I think a brass button and black tassel at the bottom of that loop will finish it off pretty well. 

So this is all I have to share with you right now.  Next up is the tapestry vest (yay!) and then the bloomers.  Most of the final trimmings I plan to leave until the very end.  For example, the shirt needs a button at the neck.  The jacket could do with some more black braid.  Both the jacket and vest will need buttons or buckles or lacings down the front, but I really need to get the whole outfit together before I can start the extensive embellishing.  I haven't decided if I want to go more feminine by adding lace and ruffles or more masculine by adding more brass bits.  Right now, it's much too understated and 'historical' looking.  Not nearly enough punk.  But stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. Holy crap, that's hilarious! I don't know how I missed the whole jetpack thing.

    Congrats to the both of you. You are wonderfully complimentary and extremely creative. I just love it.


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