Posts Tagged ‘historical steampunk’

Two ladies from the Edwardian era, both wearing belts.

After I had made my Edwardian walking skirt and its matching Zouave jacket, I had decided that an Edwardian belt was in order. It was a basic belt using a pattern from Jean Hunnisett’s book, Period Costumes for Stage and Screen (1800-1909). I had not considered blogging about this belt, as it was a quick and easy project, but it is one of those accessories that really does make a difference to the costume! You can see it in the photo below.

My Edwardian belt in action at a Picnic at Hanging Rock excursion.

Now, because I often wear this particular walking skirt and jacket ensemble for steampunk occasions (as sexy-and-skimpy steampunk is not my thing!), I decided to make a steampunk belt to wear with it too. My plan was to use a similar style and shape to my first belt, and just add black leather and silver to “punk” it up.

I really wanted a belt made from real leather, but my leather-making skills are a bit rudimentary to make something from scratch. After looking at this tutorial by Susan Dennard, I decided to try and find a leather handbag to repurpose.

Unfortunately, I was so excited about this project that, once I had found a bag at a local second-hand shop for only $4, I forgot all about taking photos of it before I started unpicking it to pieces! So here is a picture of a similar type of bag to the one I used.

My handbag was very similar to this (except black), with two front “pouches”.

Tip: Get a leather needle (a needle specially designed for sewing leather) and a good thimble when hand sewing a leather project!! The poor fingers took a beating…

Construction Steps:

Step One: I made an Edwardian belt shape using two layers of black cotton broadcloth, interlined with two layers of very firm woven interfacing (similar to buckram). The centre front points had a steel bone wedged in there to keep the front stiff. Each side of the centre backs also had a steel bone underneath the leather binding to help with stiffness too!

Step Two: The belt was bound with leather strips obtained from the handbag. In particular, the leather strips on either sides of the zips were particularly useful for this! I tried to reuse the existing stitching marks when I was hand sewing.

Step Three: I used scraps of the leather to attach some D-rings, making it easy to attach things to the belt. (I used the sewing machine to sew these, as the multiple layers of leather were proving too difficult for my fingers!)

Front view of the belt, showing the very simple shape. You can see the D-rings poking out the bottom of the belt.

The inside view of the front, showing the inside of the binding and the D-rings attached.

Eyelets were hammered in and lacing (black grosgrain ribbon) added.

Back view, showing the eyelets and lacing. You can also see some joins in the binding.

The inside view of the back.

Step Four: Now for the accessories! The thing I really wanted was to have some pouches or bags to put some things in when I’m out-and-about in costume.

I cut the two pouches off the front of the bag (if I had unpicked them from the bag, there would have been no pouch left!) and sewed the two pieces together. Luckily the tops of the pouches had some convenient rings (where the handles of the bag had been attached) that I used to attach it to the belt.

Affectionately called “my saddle bags”! Shown here attached to the belt with some clips.

Step Five: The other accessory I really wanted was a way to carry a parasol and a fan. Using the biggest leather pieces (from the bottom of the bag and the other side that didn’t have the pouches), I fashioned a tube to hold the parasol. The top of the tube was wider than the bottom, so that the parasol would not fall through.

The top of the tube was bound with a piece of leather that also had a ring attached (which was another ring used to hold the handles of the bag). This was going to be useful to attach the holder to the belt. Inside this top binding I inserted a large metal ring (7 cm in diameter) to help keep the opening open when in use. The bottom of the tube has another smaller metal ring (5 cm in diameter) in it, with the leather tube then folded over it and hand stitched in place.

The end pieces of the handbag (the sides where the zips start and finish) became a good part for the fan holder, and this piece was sewn to the side of the parasol holder. (It is a good idea to do this before you sew the tube together!)

The parasol holder, with a fan holder attached to the outside.

Finally, there was one last matching ring (that held the handles of the handbag) that I hand sewed onto the lower edge of the parasol holder. A length of chain was added to this ring to make the two attachment points different lengths. This helps make the parasol hang on an angle, kind of like a sword scabbard does.

Here is the holder attached to the belt, with the parasol and fan inside.

The last D-ring on the belt will be used for my steampunk chatelaine.

I still have a tiny bit of leather left over, including the handles, the front clasp and a few little bits left from the binding. (Maybe for another accessory later on!) There’s a few good zips and the rest is the innards!

The left over parts!

This belt will be worn at a Steampunk picnic that I am going to in a month, so I will post a picture of it in use as soon as I have one to post.

I am pretty pleased with this project! I would like to get more tools to use in leather craft and explore making some more things. I should even get my old Singer industrial sewing machine serviced, as I think it would do a great job in sewing leather! That might save my fingers too.

Now for a cup of tea!

Related Posts

Making a 1902 Walking Skirt

Making an early Edwardian Zouave Jacket

Making a Steampunk Chatelaine

Sources and Relevant Links

Period Costumes for Stage and Screen: Patterns for Womens Dress 1800-1909, by Jean Hunnisett – buy on Amazon

How to make a steampunk utility belt – by Susan Dennard

Edwardian Belt – by Sew Historically







Read Full Post »

Walking Dress, 1901, from De Gracious, Netherlands.

Walking Dress, 1901, from “De Gracieuse: Geillustreerde Aglaja”, The Netherlands.

After finishing my 1902 skirt and realising that I had an imminent Steampunk event to attend, I decided to make a jacket to match the skirt using the left over material.

Zouave and bolero jackets had become very popular through the 1850s and 60s and continued to be popular through the last half of the 19th century. They seemed to be consistently used as a fashion accessory rather than a warm jacket to protect against the cold, judging by the contemporary fashion plates. There was a tremendous variation in the styles and decoration of these types of jackets, and even different names to confuse you some more! The Eton jacket for women, for instance, was similar but tended to be always buttoned up at the front.

The zouave and bolero were generally short jackets, going only to the waistline. They could be decorated with any manner of trims, some imitating a military look, others more feminine with embroidery, or even decorated with ribbon and braid. They could have long sleeves, short sleeves, or no sleeves, and – whilst they were often left open – some did have front fastenings.

A picture of a Zouave Jacket and its pattern, in Period Stage and Screen, by Jean Hunnisett.

A picture of a Zouave Jacket and its pattern, in Period Costumes for Stage and Screen, by Jean Hunnisett.


The pattern I used was found – again – in Jean Hunnisett’s book, Period Costumes for Stage and Screen. It is not a pattern that she had drawn up herself in her pattern sheets, but a pattern that had been reproduced in a picture as a “Pattern for a Zouave jacket.” This jacket is very similar to many fashion plates of the period.

There were a total of four pattern pieces included: front panel, back panel, collar, and cuff. I drafted these up onto 1 inch grid paper.

In order to enlarge these types of old-style patterns up to full-size, first find the starting point of the pattern piece – often indicated with a circle or the letter A. Then use the horizontal numbers (indicating width measures) and the vertical numbers (indicating height measures) to measure out the pattern piece onto grid paper.

The part of the pattern that was the most tricky was the right side of the front panel, as the sudden use of large quantities of letters (instead of numbers) was hard to interpret. I eventually made the presumption that the jacket picture was drawn to scale and sketched it as closely as I could.

The pattern pieces, in which the seam allowance was added.

The finished pattern pieces, in which the seam allowance was added when cutting out.

This jacket was made from a cotton with a woven stripe, lined with a black broadcloth and trimmed with black polyester braid. Interfacing was used in the front lapel facing. As usual, I did a mock up in calico before I started. The size of this pattern seemed to be pretty perfect for me and needed hardly any adjustment.

Construction Steps

Step One: First I added facing to front lining piece, trimming off any excess material. The seam allowance was pressed to the front and top-stitched down.

The lapel facing is sewn to the lining to make one front-panel-lining piece.

The lapel facing is sewn to the lining to make one front-panel-lining piece.

Then add interfacing to the wrong side of the front lapel area.

Step Two: The front and back pieces were then all sewn together; first the centre back seam, then the side seams, and then the shoulder seams. This was done for the lining pieces and then the outer pieces, resulting in “two” jackets.

The centre back seam of the lining is sewn together.

The centre back seam of the lining is sewn together.

The outer layer of the jacket is sewn together, except for the shoulder seams.

The outer layer of the jacket is sewn together, with the shoulder seams pinned ready to sew. You can see the front darts already sewn in.

Step Three: At this point the front darts of the jacket can be taken in. This is also a great time for a fitting!

Step Four: The two layers of the jacket are sewn, right sides together, along the bottom edge – matching all seams and darts. Continue to sew up the centre front and around the lapels until you reach the neckline. Leave the collar area open. (You may need to pin your collar on at this point to check where it will sit.)

The two layers of the jacket are put together and sewn.

The two layers of the jacket are put together and sewn around the bottom and centre front edges.

Clip any seam allowances and turn the jacket right sides out. Press well. You could top stitch the edges at this point, however I intended to add braid which would hold the edges in place.

Step Five: The collar pattern is a fold-down collar, and has a centre back seam. This means that the pattern piece needs to be cut out four times in the outer material, and four times in the lining/interfacing (I have used the black cotton broadcloth as a stiffener).

At first I was a little baffled about how to sew it. First, I flatlined the collar with the lining material, which meant it did not require interfacing. (You could always use interfacing instead though.) Both layers were then treated as one.

The centre back seam of the collar was sewn next. This has to be done a second time with the other collar pieces. (This second collar will form the collar facing.)

The centre back seam for the collar is sewn.

The centre back seam for the collar is sewn. (The pattern piece is there for comparison, but I didn’t sew a centre front seam, even though it looks like I did!) In this picture the collar is already folded in half for the next step.

Then the top edge of the collar was sewn according to the pattern line, to form a “curved dart”. This needs to be done to each side of the collar and for the collar facing pieces as well.

The top edge of the collar is pinned right sides together to sew.

The top edge of the collar is pinned right sides together, ready to sew as per the pattern line.

I could have cut the top and bottom halves of the collar separately but then I would have had a thick seam on this top edge, so instead I have sewn it as a dart. Press the centre back seams open at this point.

Then the collar is opened out and sewn, right-sides together, to the collar facing around the sides and top of the collar. The bottom edge of the collar is left open, with the seam allowance of the facing folded up.

zouave jacket collar 3

The collar is pinned ready to sew around the outer edges. Make sure it is sewn on the “top” or “fold-down” edge. The bottom edge is left open, with the seam allowance of the facing folded up.

The seam allowances of the collar should be clipped and then turned the right way and ironed well.

The collar is then sewn to the jacket, matching the centre back seams. The seam allowance of the neck/collar can then be turned inside the collar and hand-sewn down.

The collar is attached to the jacket, with the raw edges turned under and hand-sewn.

The collar is attached to the jacket, with the raw edges turned under. The inside edge of the collar will then be hand-sewn down.

Step Six: The sleeves were flatlined first and then the sleeve seam was sewn.

The sleeve seams are sewn.

The sleeve seams are sewn.

The head of the sleeve was then gathered to fit the armhole, and sewn in – right sides together. The raw edges of the sleeve were trimmed and bound with black bias binding. The bottom edge of the sleeve was gathered to fit the cuff.

Step Seven: The cuffs – like the collar – were also in two pieces, so had to be cut four times for each sleeve. I did not use interfacing for these either, but instead used one layer of broadcloth as a stiffener (which meant there were two cut from the lining material for each sleeve).

The cuffs were then sewn, right sides together, around the lower edge of the cuff (with the seam allowance of the cuff facing turned over in the same way as the collar). Seam allowances were clipped and then the cuffs were turned right side out and pressed well.

The cuffs were then sewn to the bottom of the sleeve, with the cuff facing being turned under and handsewn down to hide the raw edges.

zouave jacket cuffs

The cuffs sewn, turned right side out, and sewn to the bottom of the sleeve. The inside raw edge will be turned under and handsewn down.

Step Eight: The last step involved the hand sewing of the braid and the addition of two buttons and buttonholes.

The braid and buttons attached

The braid and buttons attached

I am really pleased with the finished result!

The front view

The front view

The back view

The back view

The collar does not sit quite like it should (from in the picture, anyway), so I think I will use a few tacking stitches to keep it in place.

It does look a tiny bit short at the back, but I am planning on making myself an Edwardian belt to go with this ensemble which should disguise that.

But there it is, my new dancing and (quite historical) steampunk outfit! It is lovely to dance in, too!

Related Posts

Making a 1902 Walking Skirt

Making a Bolero Jacket

Sources and Relevant Links

Image source: Walking Outfits, published in “De Gracieuse: Geïllustreerde Aglaja” (1901) from The Netherlands.

Bolero and Zouave jackets of the mid-19th century – by The Quintessential Clothes Pen

Bolero jackets of the 20th century: 1900-1909 – by The Quintessential Clothes Pen

Period Costumes for Stage and Screen, by Jean Hunnisett – buy on Amazon

McCalls Dressmaking 1901 – by Dressmaking Research

Read Full Post »