Recent Costume Goings On: Anachrocon and Cirque de Soleil

While my costume sewing has slowed down a bit, my costume wearing has been quite steady the past couple of weeks!

Last weekend was Anachrocon, Atlanta’s Alternative History / Steampunk convention. I was on hand to officiate the Tea Duelling Tournament as I am the founder of the American Tea Duelling Society. Anachrocon is the longest running tournament for the society and it was a great one. Everything went super smooth and the tourney, duellists and spectators were all on point!

bloomerallsI commissioned a pair of bloomeralls from Megan Maude. Megan has worn hers to several cons we’ve both attended and I finally just had to have my own pair. Megan is probably one of the only people who could make a pair of overalls that would actually fit me. They are super comfy. I foresee wearing them far more than just for casual con wear.

To accessorize I finally had a reason to trot out my new biscuit beret and purse from Taobao. IMG_9732.JPG

Megan often serves as my Pot Mistress at Tea Duels. This means she makes all the tea and keeps the tournament running while I make funny (?) quips and force the competitors to shake hands multiple times for my amusement. She, like all Pot Mistresses, does the hard, hot work and a tourney really can’t run without a good one! Since we both have bloomeralls now, it seems that she and I have created a new tea duelling uniform.

me and megan bloomeralls

another great image from David Leo of Leo Photography

Generally, the prize for winning a tea duel is a fez emblazoned with the official Tea Duelling patch, which was designed by the one and only Doctor Geof (who also is one of the inventors of tea duelling). This year I decided to make a cockade instead. I referenced the tutorial from American Duchess but mostly winged it.


While I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, it’s also a pretty huge cockade, as you can see with it being proudly worn by our tourney winner.

tea duelling winner

Our winner in another of David Leo’s images.

Another Anachrocon attendee wore a couple of my creations. She was attending the event for the first time and needed some wardrobe. I sold her a red and black houndstooth corset I had made a while ago and a ribbon and D-ring embellished skirt & capelette set that had been lingering in my UFO pile. Her crafty husband made her belt and the cameo badges on the skirt. His finishing touches really pulled everything together. I thought she looked adorable and she seemed to be enjoying her first visit to Anachrocon.

victoria in my gear

Cirque de Soleil’s touring show Kurios: Cabinet of Curiousities just opened here in Atlanta. Members of The Artifice Club were invited to work the Kurios premiere as costumed background flavor. Kurios is steampunk themed so the brief was “as steampunk as possible”. I went in my orange and brown leopard print natural form gown. Unfortunately, it was pouring rain that night. Good thing my umbrella featuring the grand drape of Lyric Opera of Chicago was a perfect match and grand coverage from the curses of the elements. Kurios also sells pretty groovy umbrellas too. They could have made a killing if they had a stand outside before the doors opened!

Since I took a photo just in my undergarments, I’m posting it. I should have ironed my petticoat!

cirque under and outwear

Corset made by House of Canney, everything else made of fabric sewn by me.

My gown used these Truly Victorian patterns: 1879 Cuirass Bodice, 1878 Long Draped Overskirt and 1878 Tie-Back Underskirt. I made the belt and embellished the vintage straw hat. The fur is vintage and has four heads, four tails and eight feet. I’m quite fond of this dress. Natural form is easy to wear, especially while sitting in stadium style seating while watching a circus. I’ve meant to go to a Cirque de Soleil show for a long time but never actually managed it. Considering my interests, this show was the obvious one to fix that. I really enjoyed it! I was very glad that it had a low factor of creepy art clown. While the acts and visuals were all excellent, the thing that surprised me the most was the music. I always hear about how great the Cirque music is and this show’s ragtime / electroswing style got my feet tapping. I might even get the soundtrack. I’m hoping to see the show again, this time without a corset!

You can catch a fast shot of me in this promo video. I’m posing with some patrons at 1:23.

1st Historical Sew of 2016 – Truly Victorian Chemise

I’ve finally completed my first historical garment of the year, a test chemise from TV 102 to match the test bloomers I made about a year ago. After five years? six? of historical costuming I finally have a complete set of undergarments. I did not make a chemise before now because 1) the previous pattern I tried to use was terrible 2) I got away with just proper split bloomers and a tank top. I can now move on to make the linen blend “heirloom” versions of both.

Making this chemise is very simple, unless you actually try too hard to follow the instructions. You can make the chemise with small “sleeves” or without. I chose to make a sleeveless version. The problem is, the pattern doesn’t really tell you what to do if you omit the sleeve. Well, ok, it does tell you, but way after when you really needed to know. Also, the pattern tells you to reinforce the straps and provides a little rectangle pattern piece to cut. Doing the reinforcing makes sense, but how you are instructed to do the reinforcing does not. All that is required is to make sure that your button hole and button are mounted through three layers of fabric and that all the edges of the reinforcing piece are sewn down. I’m being a little vague here but trust me this advice will make more sense if you actually make this chemise. It certainly isn’t any more confusing.

This underwear pattern must have been one of the first patterns released by Truly Victorian. That might explain the wonky instructions. I generally find TV patterns to be easy to follow. In the time I wasted trying to figure out what was being said, I could have probably sewn a 2nd chemise! Just trust your instincts. It will all turn out fine.

I could have shortened the chemise a bit but it’s fine and wearable as is.

chemise 1

The color got a bit off here. It’s more of a khaki tan check and ribbon than brown.

Fabric — Cotton Lawn from Fashion Fabrics Club / Insertion Lace — good ole Joann’s

I opted not to trim the hem. I figured it probably would just get rumpled in the wash. Who wants to iron the trim on their underwear!

I pinned my bloomers to the form just to get a feel for the two together. You can read about the bloomer construction over here. Cute!

chemise 2


Steampunk’d – My recaps for Steampunk Chronicle

In my capacity as Editrix de Mode for Steampunk Chronicle, I’ve started a weekly recap of the new reality competition series Steampunk’d which airs Wednesdays at 8pm C/9pm E on Game Show Network. You can read my Episode One recap HERE.

There are SPOILERS!

My all time favorite television commentators are Tom and Lorenzo, formerly Project Rungay. They are pretty much what I think recappers should be: concise, entertaining, insightful and not completely rehashing the show like you didn’t actually watch it while telling you enough so you could skip it if you wanted to. I don’t think I’m in their league, but that’s what I’m going for. I’ll post the links as the episodes run.

Maker Faire Bay Area Coming Up!

Today I got an e-mail inviting me to the media registration for this year’s Maker Faire (May 17 & 18, San Mateo, CA). I’ve gone for the past two years, covering the event for Steampunk Chronicle. It’s such an awesome event and I highly recommend it to adults, kids and anyone who likes robots, science, silliness and fun. It is worth doing a little research and prep if you’re thinking of attending. Traffic can be insane and the event can be really crowded. The hordes really thin out in the later afternoon when kids and their parents get cranky, so if you don’t have to go early in the day, you might consider going on the later side. Also, just park in the Oracle lots and take the shuttle. It takes a bit of time but is so much less hassle over all. Sadly, I won’t be able to attend this year but I hope some of you do!

Here’s a link to my article about last year’s event and below is a slideshow of images from the 2013 Faire by my compadre RBC Image.


Travelogue de Mode: Bath Fashion Museum

About this time last year, I visited the Bath Fashion Museum in Bath, England. It’s a great small museum with a rotating collection. The big draw when I was there was 50 Fabulous Frocks, a showcase of fifty dress to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the museum.

I wrote a little piece about it for Steampunk Chronicle.

I also made a little video of my photos.

By the way, Steampunk Chronicle is now in the voting stage for the 2014 Reader’s Choice Awards. If you are interested take a look and vote. You will need to register with the site to do so! I was nominated as Best Dressed Female in 2012 and 2013.

“Anatomy of Steampunk” Book Review and Decimononic Interview

My latest article as Editrix de Mode for Steampunk Chronicle breaks today. It’s a mostly positive review of Anatomy of Steampunk: The Fashion of Victorian Futurism by Katherine Gleason.

Read “Dissecting Anatomy of Steampunk” here!

Late last year I had the pleasure of being interviewed by the Spanish jewelry collective Decimononic for the last installment of their Steampunk Jewelry Tonight…series. I think it’s a pretty good piece — I worked real hard on my answers! I’m not sure how many people saw it due to the holidays, general disinterest or whatever so if you want to read it now….!

Steampunk Jewelry Tonight…with Gretchen Jacobsen (aka Wilhelmina Frame)

Would you like a Steampunk Valentine?

One of my many guises is Editrix de Mode for Steampunk Chronicle. Generally, this means I’m in charge of all things fashion but I also write other pieces about events and Steampunk related travel I do. One of my other innovations for the SPC is the Valentine’s Day e-Card. We have Steampunk artists make custom Valentines that our readers can send free of charge. I usually make a card or two myself — usually on the cheeky side. This year I made a couple of choice revisions to this piece of Edwardian advertising.

Pleasure Brand Tea by Gretchen Jacobsen

Pleasure Brand Tea by Gretchen Jacobsen

If you would like to send my eCard to your Valentine (or one of four other awesome cards) just visit Steampunk Chronicle’s Valentine’s eCard link!