Sep 292013

Now for some real hatmaking, from scratch! For Nettie’s second costume, I wanted a mini top hat. Have you seen how expensive those things are? Definitely pricy impulse buys at cons! I’m working on the cheap here, so I decided to make my own.

I used a template from one of my favorite free pattern sites, Fleece Fun. Side note, I found them when I wanted to make a cape for my baby brother, who has decided to go by Darth Blaze in his superhero persona ๐Ÿ™‚ He adores the cape, and fleece is fairly cheap ๐Ÿ™‚ I actually used a red riding hood cape design, shh don’t tell anyone it was for girls ๐Ÿ˜‰ Anyway, I downloaded the smallest hat pattern, mostly because it fits on separate pages so I could print directly onto cardstock. I figured I could always do it again. I got some cheap felt (it’s less than $1 per 8.5×11″ piece at Joann Fabrics) and I had plenty of cardstock left over from the wedding to lend shape to the hat. It had been a few days since my last hatmaking adventure, so the burns from the hot glue had healed — time to fire up the glue gun again, clearly ๐Ÿ™‚


The pattern, traced onto felt.

Protip: sharp scissors help. Cutting out the felt with dull ones was torturous. They also suggested use spray adhesive for the first step. Spray adhesive is a wondrous invention… and, alas, not one I have in my crafts cabinet. So I just used hot glue all the way.

Once everything was cut out, well… nothing to it but to glue it!

And there you have it: a mostly finished tophat. I had to go to bed, but I plan to add some ribbon to tie it on next. Voila!

Sep 222013

It has been mentioned that Nettie needs a hat. Well, I am here today to reveal not one, but TWO new hats — and that only because I ran out of time for the third! Yup, that’s me, Yami the Overachiever ๐Ÿ™‚

I found two black straw hats on my last thrift shop/dollar store crawl: one that I didn’t like the feel of that I got at the thrift store for $1.07 including tax, and one that I liked rather a lot that I got at a dollar store for $4. I decided to make one big showy hat and one that’s a little more subdued, so I could pick the best for the occasion. I started with the big showy hat:

$4 floppy-brim straw hat from the dollar store

$4 floppy-brim straw hat from the dollar store

I then immediately blew my budget by spending $50 on flowers and ribbons at Michael’s craft store ๐Ÿ™‚ But I started out well!

For inspiration, I looked at both Victorian-era hats and Kentucky Derby hats, which are apparently still worn today and can get kind of intense:

Like this one from


Or this one, from Just. What.

Chaos thinks my hat is a bit excessive… I think maybe I didn’t go far enough!

Some work in progress shots:

And the final product:

Aren't I lovely!

Aren’t I lovely! My hair’s a mess, I can’t wear a ponytail under this hat.

On to the second hat! This one was cheaper, and it shows when you touch it: it sort of crinkles like cheap plastic instead of feeling like straw. Ah well.

The hat, unadulterated

The hat, unadulterated

Right off the bat, I knew that flower and ribbon had to go. Black on black? Talk about funeral attire!

Try some red ribbon instead. Much more contrast.

Try some red ribbon instead. Much more contrast.


And poofy red flowers finish the job

And poofy red flowers finish the job

The final look is much more… Nettie-ish, I think:

hat2 final

I’m tired, and I know it

But it was still missing something. It just didn’t want to sit right on my head. I wracked my brains for inspiration a bit, until finally I thought about a hat I’d seen on a duster pattern once:

Simplicity 2581

I didn’t have netting, but what about the ribbons used to tie on mini top hats? Maybe they would help the darned hat stay on my head as well as add a little extra flair?



You’ll notice I’m making a strange face in that photo. Five minutes prior, I’d burned my finger on the hot glue, and it was just starting to really hurt as I posed. It was another hour or so before it subsided enough to go to sleep, complete with a small white blister for my troubles. C’est la vie de steampunk, I suppose.

Stay tuned, I plan to make a mini top hat once Chaos gives back my glue gun ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sep 152013

Just as the proper foundations can make or break a building’s structural integrity, so can the proper foundation garments enhance or destroy a given costume. Since I have the shaping garments left over from my wedding, I decided to throw together a little photoshoot to show off what my first outfit looks like plain, then over foundation garments.

The outfit, by itself, to remind you:


The corset. Head removed because I was making the WORST face.


The skirt, with nothing underneath but the usual underwear

The skirt, with nothing underneath but the usual underwear.

The skirt, with nothing underneath but the usual underwear

I had the corset for my wedding custom-made by Mentionables Corsets; they do mail-order as well, but if you happen to live in the Cleveland area, I strongly suggest setting up fittings and so forth. Diana had some great ideas for how to make a corset that flatters my shape better, and the final product was great ๐Ÿ™‚


From the front. That little tie there helps stop it from gaping open due to my massive cleavage


The back, laced up pretty

The petticoat, on the other hand, was standard David’s Bridal issue, though we did alter it a little to fit my hips better.

Corset and petticoat. In proper undergarment style, the petticoat goes OVER the corset, as opposed to steampunk style, which often has the corset as the topmost layer.

Corset and petticoat. In proper undergarment style, the petticoat goes OVER the corset, as opposed to steampunk style, which often has the corset as the topmost layer.

I decided that since the fashion corsets don’t have proper boning, it’d be alright to wear them as an outer garment over the inner, properly boned corset, thus providing the shaping and support of a several-hundred-dollar custom-made corset with the bright colors of a $40 over-shell appropriate for steampunk. Thus, I put the Nettie costume back on over the top of the undergarments you see me modelling above. I don’t like this petticoat for her, but it was handy and it shows the difference quite nicely.


Upper portion, showing the corset layering. You can’t see it too much, but check the waistline and the curvature. It was also much easier to get the thing on, as it’s a bit small for me.


The lower portion, showing the way the skirt poofs and folds nicer with some shaping underneath

And there you have it! Stay tuned for next week as I’m currently working on more accessories for Nettie’s two outfits.
Sep 132013

I dislike CSS when it breaks.

There’s a new podcast episode up. It’s probably not in your RSS feed. I think I fixed it. We’ll see next time one goes up.

If you’ve had any trouble accessing the site tonight, fear not, I have fixed it.


…I’m going to go take a nap.


Sep 122013

Not that long ago, we spent a weekend getting me dru- ah, taste-testing some period piece mixed drinks. ย So, naturally, we only find this rather handy explanation of many ingredients now. Go figure, right?

A Guide to Defunct Cocktail Ingredients


PS: The podcast of that lovely evening is done being edited, I just need to convert, upload and then write a quick something to go with it. Classes all night so it should go up Friday night.

 Posted by at 11:01 am
Sep 102013

Hey, this is Chaos.


So, in case you didn’t know, I’m actually in school to get a master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering. Yeah, I know right? It shocks me sometimes too. Anyway, part of what I’m doing for that is independent research. Basically I take time out of my normal classes to work on research projects for other professors so I can get more experience. I’d really like to get into a Ph. D program and since you do a LOT of research for that, it helps.

So why am I bringing this up? Well, I’m going to be presenting some research at a conference in a few days, so I won’t be able to do the next Chaos Theory till the following Tuesday. So instead, we’re gonna talk about Vacuum Tubes as props.

Look at that variety!

Look at that variety!

See, these little things are great! You can use them as accents to a prop or if you’re alright with a little electrical wiring, you can have lights that light up on props, clothing, or anything else you can use them for. Some of the uses I’ve seen are mostly decorative, like these necklaces:ย

There’s also some fun little things you can do, like this below:

Originally from

Originally from

And that’s just for a flash drive! I’d actually love one of these things…granted I’d also like the Steampunk Laptop (Just type that into Google, you’ll know when you see it ๐Ÿ™‚ ) but I was more looking into props. In fact, I’m planning on using something like these for special ‘stun’ tips for a crossbow build. It won’t actually fire, but I like the idea of a scientist filling tubes with a sort of knock-out gas while having them have a short electrical charge to try and take out particularly sturdy opposition. I’m still deciding on if I should go with the bandellier look with one fully constructed arrow for posing or if I should go with maybe 5 arrows. Any thoughts?

Sep 082013

Sorry for the delay; I’ve had a rough couple of weeks, but now I’m back in the saddle and raring to get going on costume pieces ๐Ÿ™‚

Except for one small problem… Something seems to have gone horribly wrong with the top I was making. I had a suspicion before the machine broke that judging by the size of the pieces, the finished garment was going to be far too small; furthermore, the pieces weren’t lining up properly, with lining and outer and interfacing all being different sizes, and to top it all off, the last few steps I had done before the machine broke were apparently done incorrectly.

jumble of parts 2

The final state of my top

I could fix this, I knew; it would take hours, most of which would be unpicking what I did before, and then I’d probably still have a garment that didn’t fit right and probably would be stitched badly since I had no idea what the instructions were trying to say for this step. Then I realized: this wasn’t fun anymore. Why should I spend several weekends making a piece when I can spend $30 instead if I wasn’t having fun making it? So screw that. I ordered myself a fashion corset-top and moved on to the skirt, which looks much more understandable. I’m not saying Simplicity 2851 is a bad pattern, per se, just that the bodice on that piece was confusing the shit out of me.

So! On to the skirt! I’m getting good at skirts I think ๐Ÿ™‚ The basic skirt was simple enough to put together, the same as the other skirts I’ve made. The bottom was meant to be finished with a ruffle but I hate ruffles so, in the spirit of “let’s make things easy on Yami”, I decided to purchase lace instead. It’d look just as classy and not make me want to rip my hair out ๐Ÿ™‚ Plus it matches the new top better, since it doesn’t have ruffled armholes.

At first all went well, but then I tried it on for size and… whooops.

oversized skirt

A little big…

Turns out the cutting instructions had a gather line but the sewing directions never mentioned gathering the fabric. What’s a girl to do? Make pleats, of course.

skirt with pleats

With pleats

Much better. Add some ribbon and lace and voila:



skirt bow




I’m not sure what happened when anchoring those ribbons. I’d lay the skirt out flat, measure the ribbon, stitch it in place, then trim, but somehow they’re way too loose. Another evening’s work will fix that I suppose.

I also noticed I’m not very good with waistbands. The pattern wanted me to do something complicated with ribbon, but I ran out of ribbon; it also wanted a zipper, but I bought the wrong color zipper and decided I didn’t need it after all. If anyone knows any simple ways to finish off a waist to stop it from rolling over itself, I’d appreciate the tip.

Coming soon: the finished outfit ๐Ÿ™‚

Sep 032013

Hello and welcome to Chaos Theory. It’s a little segment I’ll be doing from time to time about steam punk and the interesting things behind it. Today I’ll be talking about the Steam Engine. I’ll also be as scientifically accurate as I can be…hopefully. At least I’ll try to stay on topic. So let’s start this how all good scientific talks start….with slides!



This is a steam engine. It uses the princi- …What, that isn’t the first one? But I thought that I sho- Fine, hold on. Sorry about that. Apparently there’s a discrepency.



Alright, THIS is-

Oh what is it NOW! I put up the-

…it’s HOW old?!

From WHERE?! Huh.

Ok, I’ll start there.ย  Sorry, folks. Looks like I’ll have to go back a bit further.



(looks around expectantly)

Alright, I think we’re good now. This isย an aeolipile. It’s said to be the earliest model of a steam ‘engine’ in so much that it uses steam to do mechanical work. It was designed in 1st century Roman Egypt by the Hero of Alexandria. He’s pretty famous for some of his other designs, like a wind-powered organ and the first vending machine. ย “But Chaos, wasn’t the steam engine not widely used until many centuries later?” you say. Well…yes. You see, the aeolipile might be the first steam engine, but it wasn’t really able to do much work. I don’t mean that it didn’t move, but that the amount of force it was able to generate wasn’t really able to do much. Basically it was a proof of concept and a cool looking toy. It wouldn’t be until 1680 before cylinders were even added.



The next design they had were more steam pumps than engines. They used boiling water with release valves to move a pump down and the resulting vacuum from the cooling steam to pull the pump back up. It was actually a very ingenious design that used techniques from earlier models to improve the efficiency of the engine. This was the design used until the 18th century, where the need for smaller, high pressure engines for factories become higher.

Now, why did I bore you with all those facts about steam engines? Well, where do you think Steampunk started? It was the idea that, after the industrial revolution, these sorts of engines remained the standard and were improved far beyond what they normally were. In fact, Steampunk didn’t really ‘happen’ until the 1980’s. I realize that movies like Metropolis and early tv shows like Wild, Wild West helped pave the way, but the term didn’t appear until after their creation.

Original version. Personally, I like the later version done in the Astro Boy style, but that's for another time.

Original version. Personally, I like the later version done in the Astro Boy style, but that’s for another time.

Now, the big question I had when I first started looking into Steampunk was ‘Why?’ Why would someone imagine a world where the steam engine was the dominate technology instead of petrol? Why have a world of glass tubes and electricity rather than the world of gravity wells, teleporters, and all the trappings of science fiction as I had grown to know it. Well, my theory is…that some people just thought it would be interesting. I mean, that’s the reason far future science fiction is what it is now. People looked at what we had and said “Wow, I wonder what they’ll do in the future?” People like Jules Vern and William Gibson looked at the past and said “I wonder what would have happened if THAT stuck around?” It’s really just a different way of looking at things. It’s a creativity that I respect and only wish I had a fraction of. Well…that and I like seeing how people bend and stretch current figures and technology to fit with the aesthetic.

Well, I hope I didn’t bore anyone to tears with my information. I hope even more that some of you found it entertaining. Now, if you think I glossed over anything important, want to add your own theory, or just wanna discuss a bit with others just comment below. Now that we’ve done the steam engine, hopefully you come back next time for another major inspiration for Steampunk. We’ll be seeing how all of this ‘ticks’ inside with Clockwork.

Sep 022013

Sometime PW (pre-wedding) the three of us went to a local Renaissance Fair during their ‘Time Traveler Weekend’ ย which basically meant you could come dressed up as anything, not just medieval costumes. It wasn’t a terribly large Fair or anything, but it was a good size for a simple afternoon day trip (reasonably priced as well) so it was time well spent.


I really enjoyed watching the blacksmiths they had making various craft pieces for sale- such as the regular or over-sized d6 dice make from cast iron. ย Nothing like causing the entire table to shudder when you roll your damage… and possibly chipping the surface. So yeah. Yami’s pick was the archery lesson/range booth they had set up, if for no other reason than she got Chaos and I to also try it. And we were all equally hopeless, though I managed to sting my forearm red with the string. Chaos… well, ย I would have thought seeing the siege weapons at work would have been his high point but he was very excited about his giant smoked turkey leg…


Anyway, enjoy a handful of photos!

 Posted by at 5:56 pm