Steampunk Polonaise

(aka Madame Tightpants)

Original design sketch

Worn at: Costume-Con 27 (2009)
Awards Won: The "We Can't Decide Why We Love It So" Award, CC27 Future Fashion Show

One awesome feature of Costume-Con is the Future Fashion Folio - attending or supporting members of the convention can send in original fashion designs several months before the con, and then anyone who is attending can choose a design and create it. I've wanted to take part for the past two years and finally got around to it (just barely!).

This design was by Charlotte Whatley, entitled "Stinging Stunning Steampunk Polonaise", and caught my eye immediately. I only wish I were as tall as the very glamorous fashion drawing, but oh well. I enjoyed channeling Jean Harlow and other '30s starlets with the wig and makeup.

The jacket and pants are silk dupioni, with quilted side panels and trim of bronze charmeuse. The charmeuse is also used for quilted bands that contain a double ruffle of tea-dyed lace. The bands and lace had to be hand-sewed, as was a lot of the finishing. I added pintucks to the sleeves just for fun, and used a fabulous lucky-find fabric for a contrast panel in the back and on the shoes.

Original design sketch

The jacket is underlined with crinoline to make it stand out like a bustle without any understructure; this was specified in the original design. I started out with a basic sloper pattern but had to do a lot of draping to get the bustle looking right. The pants were also a challenge as I'd never made tight non-stretch pants before. I added charmeuse welts to the zippers and piping along the edge, again just for fun/insanity.

The tiara is made from wire and crystals using my Magpie Faerie method. I bought shoes of the right shape at Goodwill and then hand-sewed fabric to cover them, adding a higher vamp and decorative trims. Oddly enough they were the most popular part of this costume!

Movie star pose... On the runway On the runway