Thursday, June 9, 2011


I've been thinking for a long time about making a Steampunk outfit for American Girls. Of course this is a genre that may not be familiar to all dolly collectors. From where I am sitting, Steampunk seems to be a mix of science fiction, Victoriana, and pure imagination - which is why I was so attracted to it. It's historically-inspired without being the least bit troubled by historical accuracy. I'm not cool enough to own a Steampunk outfit for myself, but I'm looking at you, Simplicity 2172.

I think it's actually easier to define what isn't steampunk than what is (and let us warn you before you click that link... there's some spicy language over at Regretsy). On the other hand, Steampunk Addie has provided a handy definition for us. And if you aren't reading The Adventures Of Steampunk Addie (and her unusually stout parasol!) believe us, you are missing out.

I've also noticed that there are quite a few Steampunk Blythes out there. I've been trying to scout out where the Blythe goggles come from, since they have the same size heads as our 18" girlies and the goggles will likely fit. eBay and Etsy have so far turned me up nothing. :(

After scouting around all the local fabric shops for things like black suiting, wee jewelry charms, and FEATHERS, I finally tackled Steampunk for my June Modiste project. I think you can see the influence of the pattern I linked above in my final result:
(Meg photoshopped Jess in front of a steam engine, of course!) I raided my stash for lots of fun bits and bobs to trim out the ensemble. For example, this vintage black rayon eyelash braid - I didn't realize until I was sewing it on how much it looks like the teeth on a gear! (And you'd think I would have learned my lesson about skinny trims after last month's Regency pelisse nearly drove me mad... but I'm not the sort that can learn a lesson.)

More eyelash trim at the hem of the skirt, and you can see that my sewing machine's ruffle foot (which also does pleast, and looks pretty steampunk itself) is my new favorite toy.  Pleated silk might just be the nicest thing ever. The skirt is high-waisted and laces closed in the back, and provides all the swish and rustle your little heart desires.

The blouse has a high neck, velvet ribbon bow (I *heart* velvet ribbon), and a little dangly clock charm in antiqued brass. And the jacket, which is comprised of 22 individual pieces (I counted), is lined with poison green taffeta that peeks out under the epaulets, the collar, the pocket flaps and the TAILS. Speaking of subconscious influences, my husband and I saw 'Wicked' on Christmas Day and I clearly have a stylistic holdover from that, what with the green and the clocks and everything.

But the very finishing touch - the only detail that was absolutely sharp in my mind's eye when the rest of the ensemble was still in the vague planning stages - is the Tiny Top Hat. I went all out on this one, even though it involved a lot of hand-sewing - not my favorite thing. A little veil of birdcage netting coyly hides one eye, and there's a band of velvet ribbon, and two wee feathers in green and gold. Also important, I sewed a hair comb to the underside of the hat brim so that it will perch at the exact right Rakish Angle.

The Time Traveler Chic Steampunk Ensemble won't be produced again (did I mention, twenty-two pieces for the jacket alone?!) and is absolutely one-of-a-kind. Bidding is currently up to $66.07 on eBay and there's two days left, so you've still got time! Click Here to visit the auction, and good luck!


  1. Steampunk Addie thanks you. Mentioned in two blogs in ONE day! I do declare this has gone to her head! (Where's that fainting couch when you need one?) But consider yourself warned, anyone who comes between Addie and this outfit will face the wrath of her sturdy parasol!

  2. That's so awesome! I don't have a steampunk doll (because I don't quite get it)!

  3. I don't quite get it, either, but it makes me want a Steampunk doll anyway!

  4. Joni - Thanks for all of your blog comments - great to meet another Sherlock/Inspector Lewis fan.

    This outfit is AWESOME! I have always liked American Girl dolls, but have zero sewing skills - this is amazing stuff you all have done here!

  5. Wow that is so beautiful! I want a big outfit like that!

  6. I need to make a steampunk doll outfit now. XD Maybe you can make goggles using bottle caps, cellophane, and careful application of spray paint?