To be a bit cliché, this shoemaker is a professional Web Developer and her child is this blog, but it was past time to launch what I have of a new design. All the content is still here, everything else is a work in progress (kind of like most of my sewing projects)!
In 2012, I started a steampunk costume that never seemed to take flight. The only finished piece is the skirt stay/brooch, created in collaboration with my friend Katherine Koba (who did all the beadwork, and continues to create the mathematically-inspired jewelry in her Etsy shop).
The backstory for the character I dreamt up to costume included Ada Lovelace as her godmother, inspiring her to tool about with Babbage’s analytical engines. While the character is fictitious, Lady Ada King, Countess of Lovelace was not—she’s considered the first computer programmer, having theorized how the Analytical Engine could do calculations decades before an electronic computer was built. So, in honor of Ada Lovelace Day (the middle Tuesday of October every year), here is a post about the brooch (finally!).
With computers, everything boils down to zeros and ones—electric current on or off. Calculations are performed by circuits of varying complexities. One of the more basic is called a full adder, which we modeled this brooch after. As you might guess from the name, it adds numbers together.
In the beadwork, the inputs are splayed across the top and the results (sum and carryover) are dangling from the bottom, with the gates and intermediate results between. The smaller, purplish beads are numbers—1 or 0—and the larger orange and gold represent the logic gates—gold for AND, orange for XOR. The white beads are filler for the paths between the gates.
The beadwork is mounted on a base made from bicycle gears (we can pretend they’re from an analytical engine) that were superglued together and spray-painted. I can’t speak for Koba, but I think sizing the wires correctly was the most difficult part of this—particularly since the gears and I were in Utica, and Koba and the beads were in South Korea!
Plumleigh can’t do any actual calculations with this full adder, but it certainly is a fun accessory to wear while she fiddles with a real set of circuits solving any manner of problem.
Projects like this are just one of the myriad ways STEM sneaks into my crafting. How does it influence your hobbies?
Despite the lack of updates, I haven’t entirely forgotten about that giant Steampunk outfit plan that I’m supposed to be working on. I finally took a stab at putting the corset together this weekend, in a form slightly modified from my original plans, but one that should still work.
In May, after having C&K try on the mockup, I knew I needed to modify it to an underbust.I drew out the new top while they were wearing it, and then ripped apart the mockup and modified my pattern pieces according to the drawn lines. The other major modification is that the budget got the best of me and I decided to forgo using a traditional separating busk in lieu of hooks and eyes. I found these great filigree ones on sale, so there will be four of them, and likely a few more hidden ones. This is not going to be used for tight lacing or everyday wear, so I think it should hold up.
I have the fashion fabric and drill interlining all pieced together for both sides (one shown here, with some bones in place). I’m now in the process of sewing in the boning casings. After that will just be the lining and grommets, and deciding on what to lace it with.
I’d completely forgotten that I had this homespun in my stash. When I uncovered it, the whole corset look clicked in my head—I like it much better than the other options I’d laid out (and C&K said that they had no preference at all).
It’s a bit annoying to match the lines, and it’s by no means perfect, but there aren’t any absolute glaring mismatches. Luckily I have plenty of fabric so that I needn’t be hampered by a restrictive cutting layout.
I hope to finish it this week so that I can get started on the other torso-covering pieces. It’s September already!
Also, here’s a look at the dog modification I made from Simplicity 2613 now that it’s been delivered:
The concept needs work, but I like it (and so did the recipient!).
It’s time to get back to work on the Steampunk costume, don’t you think? The first step is finishing up the corset, since it is the base of all the other top-layer items. I’ve picked apart the drill mockup so that I can use those pieces for interlining/strength, and now I’m ready to cut into the fashion fabric and actually construct the final corset.
The problem is, I can’t decide what to make it out of. I’m sticking to fabrics I already own (and own in enough quantity). The fittings are gold/brass, so it all needs to match that, too.
We just finished up our Missouri trip, ending up in KC the same day a lot of you quilting industry people were leaving Quilt Market. Along the way and in KC itself, I managed to stop in a few different shops, and ended up with a fair little haul:
Sew To Speak in Columbus, OH is one of my favorite shops, and I couldn’t keep myself from picking up a few various FQs, including one from the Ghastlie Family Reunion.
I’ve been working on a handful of projects at one time lately, so I haven’t finished anything, but there has been progress in my sewing room in the past couple of weeks.
First, I tried a second technique for Cathedral Window (the quilt-as-you-go one that doesn’t require batting or backing). I’m not a big fan. It’s just fiddly in a way that doesn’t inspire me. Now I have to figure out something to do with this odd little rectangular orphan:
I mentioned early on that I wanted to try drafting a bifurcated skirt out of a period tailoring manual. I’m still doing that, sort of. Except, I’m also kind of cheating, because I realized that if I enlarged this one:
…so that the front measurement (line C-G) was the right length for my models, it worked out that the waist was also right (in other words, the measurements I needed to draft to are pretty much correctly proportioned to the book’s draft).
Since I first posted about making the Steampunk costume, my plan has changed a small bit, but also really coalesced into something I think will be great when it is finished. What is helping me stay focused and not go too far out there (or grow this into something too large) is to focus on a couple themes. If an idea doesn’t suit the themes, then it’s taken off the table.
“Introducing the All-In-One Adventuress’ Wardrobe! All the Modern Adventuress needs to suit most every occasion in her travels!”
I think head-in-the-clouds Rae has won out (was there ever a question, really?). I’m making a Steampunk costume over the course of the next nine months. I even ordered some fabric, so now I have to make it.
My muse hasn’t stopped singing about the costume in the past week. It came up with a whole backstory and character for this costume, and who am I to deny it? Now that it’s in my head, I can’t get past the character (who is about 18 years old) so this won’t be a costume for me. Luckily, I have two younger sisters with similar body types (to each other, not me. Brats got all the tall genes)—hereafter referred to as C&K—to exploit, and they’ve agreed to let me dress them up at Christmas for a photo shoot.
So, paired with their measurements, a dress form I don’t yet own, and only a single chance to fit a mockup or two in person in less than a month (unless they come visit me, which is doubtful, since they’re on college-student budgets and I’m on a recently-bought-a-house-and-am-making-a-big-costume budget), I will be creating a costume that fits them (in theory). Luckily, they have more pattern-ready bodies, so fitting should be simpler than if I were to make it for myself, I think.
I can’t really sketch, but here’s a bit of my idea on paper…
Can you keep a secret? I’m a bit of a closet Steampunk. I love the aesthetic. I like a lot of the literature. I mean, basically, if you take my love of Victorian fashion, computer science, leather, lace, the paranormal, and any number of intriguing anthropological and linguistic themes, you get Steampunk, like it was simply made for me. Although, with the exception of the fashion bit, the others might not be so obvious to hardly anyone. I live in my head sometimes.
Aside: speaking of literature, I’m biased, because I’m totally in love with the (now completed) series and have been since the first book was published, but if you like Steampunk, the paranormal, and absolute absurdity at times (packaged in extremely well-written prose), you needs must endeavor to read the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger (starting with Soulless—at least read the online preview available for the Kindle version). Go on. I’ll still be here when you’re done.