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An example of an historical chatelaine generally in use during the 19th century.

I love chatelaines! I have loved them for a long time!

As I have progressed in my costuming, adding accessories has become more important to me than just making more garments. Whether it be hats, jewellery, hat pins, brooches, gloves, handbags, hairstyling or shoes, accessories do lend a “finished” element to the costume.

For a long time I have wanted to buy a chatelaine. Unfortunately the antique ones are quite out of reach of my budget! And when I finally found ones that are currently manufactured and sold, they too were quite expensive. Gorgeous! But still not a priority for me at the price sold for.

So… what to do? Make one of course! Now I am by no means a jeweller… The idea of constructing pendants and objects using metal was way beyond my skill set. So using very basic jewellery making techniques I have managed to construct a steampunk chatelaine by combining different elements of existing jewellery items I have found. This will be used with a new steampunk belt I am currently making.

Construction Steps

Step One: Begin by buying some modern jewellery.

Recently there was a fashion for American Indian or tribal style necklaces, with larger pieces that had various “rings” from which other decorative items dangled. I found these two pieces in Kmart on sale last year for $4 (AUD) each. A second-hand shop may be another place to look. You will need a largish pendant that has some rings around the bottom of it.

Two suitable necklaces I bought from Kmart.

Step Two: Detach the pendant items from the chain. You can re-use the chain for the chatelaine items later if you wish. I also removed some of the dangling items from the “rings” that I wanted to use, and also some extraneous beading detail that I didn’t like. I attached a hook fastener to the top of the pendant that would clip onto my steampunk belt.

The necklace pendant was then “trimmed” to be suitable for what I wanted.

Historically, chatelaines had a large hook on the back for hooking over the waistband. In a future post I will look at ways to reproduce this when making a more historical chatelaine.

Step Three: Buy a selection of chatelaine items. For a steampunk chatelaine, these items can be sourced easily since steampunk is quite fashionable at the moment. The bonus is that many types of items are suitable in the creative process that is steampunk! Here are some items I bought from my local Spotlight.

Some steampunk items that I picked up at my local craft store. All of them are able to be hung from a chain.

 

However, if you are wanting a selection of historically accurate chatelaine items it can be more difficult. I suggest you keep looking for things that could pass for historical, but can still be easily attached to a chain.

Step Four: Attach the chatelaine items to lengths of chain using a jump ring and jewellery tools. I cut the necklace chain into four pieces, two shorter and two longer.

I cut the necklace chain into four, and have begun attaching the chatelaine items.

Step Five: If you would like to make your chatelaine items removable, you could attach a jewellery catch onto the other end of the chain. The catch can then just clip on to the “rings” on the pendant. This means that you can easily mix-and-match the items hanging from your pendant.

I decided to attach mine with jump rings so they are not removable.

The four items are being attached to the pendant with jump rings. These were a microscope, twist tube, fake fob watch and a key.

I am so pleased with the finished result!

The completed chatelaine attached to my half-completed steampunk belt.

I am hoping to wear it soon at a steampunk event, and I will post a picture here of it being worn as soon as I can!

Related Posts

Making a Steampunk Skirt

Making a Steampunk Shirt

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: for sale from Whitaker Auctions

Chatelaines for sale – Artistic Anachronism

Make a chatelaine (from ribbon) – The Jane Austen Centre

How to attach jump rings – Youtube video (If you have never done jewellery making before, this clip can come in nice and helpful!)

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