Sunday, July 2, 2017

Stitching and Gluing for a Steampunk Wedding: Agony, Followed by Ecstasy

When I first heard that the daughter of a dear friend, Caitlin, and her wonderful fiancé Nathan were having a steampunk/time travel wedding, I was taken aback and began kvetching loudly to no one.

First, because the wedding was in April. Aren't costume weddings for Halloween?

Second, who ever heard of a costume wedding?

Third and the real problem: What would I wear? I have enough trouble shopping for acceptable contemporary attire, let alone swathing myself convincingly in garments of the past.

But then I recognized this invitation for what it was: A stitching/crafting/destashing opportunity. Specifically, to use up my teensy pile of rusted watch gears that I'd purchased years before, when Steampunk first became a thing. I'd paid $10 for maybe a half-gram of old watch parts like this.
My DH is also costume-challenged. It came to me that if I made us couple of Steampunk brooches, they could serve as 98% of our costumes. I mean, we'd go fully dressed in SOMETHING, but the brooches would automatically make us Time Lords (That's a Dr. Who thing.)

I also wanted to give the happy couple something beyond the check. They are such nice people that they would probably thank us sincerely if we gave them yak manure for their garden (if they had a garden). But time travel is such a great theme. Surely I could whip up something from my fabric stash, much of which has travelled over a very long time and distance to reach my house.

I went through my UFO pile and dug up this denim and lace composition, that I'd agonized over last year.
A tutorial for laying down the denim background and auditioning embellishments is in an earlier blog post.  In the last paragraph I grumbled that I didn't know what to do with it.

But now its destiny was clear! Everything on it was vintage: the jeans, the mother-of-pearl  buttons (and some made of ye olde plastick); the intense lace, especially those corner cut-out squares, which make me swoon!
(What were these lace pieces originally intended for? Collars?) Come to think of it,  I convinced myself, the piece was old, new, borrowed and blue - perfect for a wedding gift. 

I felt it needed something more - everything does - so I tried scattering my pile of rusty watch gears over it, but the result wasn't great, and what the heck would people do with a textile that had rusty old things glued to it?  (Don't answer that.)

I dug out my last fragment of a wonderful millenium print fabric, bought in the year 2000, with clocks printed all over it. I cut up some clocks and lined them up in the border. Not bad! I appliquéd them in place with (very modern) invisible thread. 
A little closer: 
A lot closer: 
So easy! So fun! Better present than yak manure! And it ended too soon! But by now my Steampunk cylinders were churning. I dug out a circular and and an oval wooden shape, glued batting on top, and covered them with  plaid silk from an old upholstery sample book. I then glued my overpriced watch parts on top. I sprinkled on some buttons, keys and a cool old toy compass for good measure. Glued pins to the back. (Detailed tutorial, see below.) Here's brooch #1, which I wore to the wedding....
And here's #2, which I only took a really bad picture of (sorry), which my husband wore: 
As the wedding wound down, we pinned this one to our gift, as an additional present.  

Along with the brooch, I wore my mother's 1980s-era fringed white cowboy shirt. Thus I was a time travelling steampunk cowperson. My DH wore the other brooch, my mother's trench coat, my Dad's Irish tweed cap, and my daughter's large red bowtie (leftover from her Halloween stint as Dr. Who). He did look Whovian. 

The wedding was an absolute delight.  Any doubts I had about the idea of a costume wedding vanished the moment I set eyes on the bride and groom.
Are they not gorgeous? And it was soooo much fun to see the guests dressed creatively. Some eras were particularly popular. There were a half-dozen Starfleet officers, include the bride's tiny 93-year-old grandmother sporting realistic Vulcan ears, along with her Federation uniform.  She's an interplanetary firecraker! 
The mother of the bride, and several other women wore flapper costumes that they'd cleverly bought on AMAZON! I wish someone had told me that costuming could be so easy! Here's mother and daughter: 
There were gears hanging from the ceilings and strewn on the tables, along with pages from old books. In short, it was waaaay too much fun! Thank you for inviting us, Nathan and Caitlin, and mazel tov to you both! 

Want to make your own Steampunk time traveller's brooch? Start by rounding up all your metal things, ideally old, broken,  and rusty....Don't neglect bobbins. If you don't have vintage embellishments, you can buy fake vintage at the craft store. Here are three small Steampunk-themed wallhangings I made years ago for an online craft swap.
Yes, that's a sewing machine light bulb, a broken bobbin, and some fake gears from Michaels....
A bow made from metal screening....
...A nest made from wire and a fake pearl....and whatnot.

Create a wearable backing. For the wedding, I used wooden shapes, but cardstock, fusible interfacing, or even faux leather or Kraft Tex(TM)  can work.  Cover with batting, and then interesting fabric cut larger than the shape, with edges pulled and glued to the back. Next....

1. Trace around the entire shape onto a piece of faux leather, real leather, or felt....(I really really should have done this before gluing the stuff on it). 
2. Cut out the shape....
 3. Plan the pin location, then mark where the sticky-outie parts are....
 4. Use an xacto knife to cut slits....
 5. Pray while pushing the tip of the pin and then the critical parts through....(sometimes it takes a couple of circles and cuts to get it right)....
 6. Smear glue liberally. Be more frugal as you reach the outer rim.
 Smack that thing on the back!
Let it dry and add glue as needed. Now you are a potential Time Lord, so have fun with your inter dimensional travels!


  1. What fun! Where are the pictures of you and hubby wearing your fabulous broaches?

  2. My DH is camera shy! I'll see if I can find one of me....Thanks for stopping by, Norma.

  3. I love the grandma! So sweet! I have a stash of metal crap that now I can do something with. Thanks for informing us. Your creativity knows no bounds!

    1. Marla, if I have helped one quilter find a way to destash her metal crap, especially on innocent young people, my work here on earth is done! Thanks for the note!

  4. I love this whole thing, Cathy, and relate completely to your early dismay! Taking us step by step through your process to spectacular success was generous and so much fun to read about and see. Love the idea of the gift quilt. Thank you!!

    1. Sherry, thank you so much for the nice comment! I'm glad I'm not the only costum-o-phobe. Though maybe this wedding cured me!

  5. Always love your posts - creativity, problem solving, and sheer joy for the process are inspiring. Thanks!