Steampunk Costume: Hoop Cage, Part 1

Brenda and I decided the best way to get started was to start from the outside in. Build the support structure and the bigger pieces and then the details would follow. We started with the waistband. This is sturdy enough to support the skirt. We measured and cut it to size (plus some overlap) and put it on the dress form. From there, we added the following marks:

  • 3.5″ on either side of the front center so that we have 7″ of flat surface across the front of the skirt
  • side points
  • a point between each side point and the 3.5″ marks
  • center back point
  • 2 points equally spaced between each side point and the center back

Once we had the waistband marked, we cut some grosgrain ribbons to hang from each point. The ribbon is sturdy, has a great texture, and is a lovely silvery gray color. We used the measurement from my waist to the bend in my knee plus a couple of inches (to loop it at the bottom). We then taped each ribbon to each waistband point.

Brenda had gathered the green plastic strips that we will use for our hoops from a local company. It’s nice to be able to recycle these. All they needed was a quick wipe with a baby wipe to get the dust off and they were good to go.

We took a guess at the circumference that we wanted for the bottom hoop and marked out some measurements on it so that the vertical ribbons would flow well. We had to make sure that this would hang evenly. It will be important when we make this to make sure that the vertical strips are attached to the hoop. (Imagine if they all slid to one side while you were wearing the costuem or tying to get into it. We’d like to avoid that.)

From here, we attached a couple more hoops, making sure to measure things as we went so that it was all even.

After that I carefully climbed into it so we could get a good look at our start with the hoop cage. we agreed that we’d initially made the bottom hoop too small. We wanted a larger silhouette, so we made a new larger hoop (100″ circumference) and used that one on the bottom and then moved our original 80″ hoop up. When I’d tried it on, we were happy with most of it, although we now saw that our top hoop needs to be larger.The next time we meet to work on this, we will make our top hoop larger and we will add an extra partial loop around the hips (all the way around except along the front 7″.)

We also cut the fabric that will be covering our hoops. we are going to sew casings and enclose the green plastic in them.