In Memory of Jamie Williams

Jamie would have turned 50 this year. As a celebration of his memory, Kizzy put together a Comedy Benefit show. It was a great evening – a lot of laughs and some great friends. Jamie would have loved it. Below is a photo that I snapped while we were setting this up – Kizzy is putting the finishing touches on Jamie’s memory wall, which featured his “Shakey Evidence” costume.

Steampunk Costume: The Good Corset

It was akin to doing a logic puzzle. Brenda & I had made the necessary adjustments to the corset pattern and spent a good deal of time trying to fit all of the pieces onto the piece of coutil that we’d dyed. Once we got it cut out, it was time to start sewing things together. We put an order in to Farthingale’s for some spiral steel bones and a busk.

Dyeing the Coutil

Coutil is a heavy & very tightly woven cotton that is used for making corsets. It’s fairly expensive, so Brenda suggested that she had a piece that we could use. Unfortunately it was white, and that would not suit the Steampunk costume at all. We picked up some black fabris dye and wound up with a lovely warm brownish gray…

The Fit of The Corset

Well our mockup has been very handy. By making it and trying it on, we have realized that we need to really re-work some of the pattern. We’re going to make the waist area smaller, and we’ll need to increase the room and height in the bust cups.

Goggles for The Steampunk Costume

I’m trying to make my own goggles. Attempt #1 is to use some crafting aluminum to build the frame. Not sure how well it’ll work but so far I’ve found that mason jar lids are too large, and I haven’t been able to find any appropriate plumbing fittings.

Back to the Steampunk Costume

Last year, Brenda & I came up with a plan for an original Steampunk costume. We got started on the project, and then we both got very busy with other things, and the project was shelved for a while. We have taken it back on and our hopes are to comeplete it for Halloween this year.

We took a basic 19th Century corset design and reworked it so that it would fit properly. We created our own pattern out of a thick brown paper (like the kind used for wrapping parcels) and then pulled out some inexpensive cottom so that we could make a mockup. We’d need this so that we can test the fit. Corsets have to be pretty spot-on if you want a good fit…

It’s a real treat using the industrial sewing machine. It takes a little bit of getting used to and you have to be very careful when using it because it’s rpetty powerful…

corset mock-up

We sound up sewing channels for the boning with twill tape. Our plan for the actual corset was to cut the fabric a little wider and use the fabric itself to create the boning channels.

corset mock-up


There wasn’t any time this year to make a costume – so thank goodness forBrenda. She made a fun Medeussa costume for me & I had a bit of fun with the makeup to go with it. Unfortunately, I came down with a pretty wicked headache to go with it, so I wound up heading home after being out for less than an hour. Ah well – I’m glad I got a chance to see so many of my friends dressed up!

Medeusa – costume by Brenda.


Lisa as a Lion tamer.

Steampunk Costume: Hoop Cage, Part 3

Brenda and I managed to get a lot done on the hoop cage in tonight’s three-hour session. The waistband is complete…

Brenda made the holes for the pop rivets while I finished turning the hoop casings…

Once the hoops were set, we started to pin them to the vertical strips. (Brenda used a pop rivet to close them and the ends were neatly tucked in and sewn together over top.) We managed to get the hoops pinned on. They will need to be adjusted before we permanently attach them with pop rivets and washers. That will be next time.

Steampunk Costume: Hoop Cage, Part 2

Brenda and I found a couple of hours on Saturday morning to continue working on the hoop cage. When I arrived at her place, she’d already taken the time to adjust things so that they hung better, and she marked and numbered everything (vertical strips top edge, strip number, and it has been pinned where the hoop will fit. and marks on the hops for each vertical strip.)

Brenda had a great idea to back the vertical silver grosgrain ribbons with a wider black ribbon…

While she put those together (leaving room for each hoop to slip through) and also covered the waistband, I got to work on the hoop casings. To begin the casings, I needed to join two long pieces of fabric at an angle. If I had just done a seam straight across, this would create a lot of bulk on the inside when I get turned and it could be pretty difficult to pass the hoop through it.

Once the pieces were sewn and pressed, it was time to sew them. The hoops that we have are 5/8″ wide so I needed to make sure that each casing had a bit of extra room.

We noticed that the fabric was fraying a bit so we took the time to serge the edges. This was the first time I’ve had an opportunity to use a serger and after a quick tutorial from Brenda, I was off to the races with it. She was right when she said I’d fall in love with it right away! The edges are so neat & tidy!!

Once that was done, I managed to get one of the casings turned, put the hoop in and pressed it. The next time we meet to work on this, we are hoping to be able to finish this portion of the costume. We have great plans for pop rivets and washers!!

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.