Urban Threads creates and offers embroidery patterns that are modern, funky and well designed. They also show off all sorts of interesting ways to apply them on their site and blog, Stitchpunk. I heard about them quite a while back and can’t believe I haven’t shared this very cool site. They make me wish I had an embroidery machine, though I’m not sure I need another facet to my hobby list. Check out their look book here!


This year, before we decided to go ahead and revisit our Steampunk Mad Hatter Tea Party, I was thinking about doing a mono-chromatic sort of black and white movie costume. I was thinking silent film star or Gorey character. Then I ran across this costume:

Dr. Who "Blink" angel costume via penwiper on therpf.com

This is one of my favorite costumes – ever, I think. It makes extremely clever use of some pretty basic materials – fabric, yarn, a hula-hoop and paint – to recreate the nasty intentioned statues from the show. I was particularly impressed with the technique for the arms and hands. Penwiper used pantyhose to make attached hands/arms/upper body piece and painted them to look like stone. She achieves great looking individual fingers and didn’t need to paint her arms. This made the costume a lot more flexible (in terms of not having to worry about getting paint on things when she moved) and much more realistically stone-looking texture. This is a technique that I will definitely consider incorporating in to a future costume. Her process is detailed here.

At some point I managed to damage the heel on one of my Victorian boots. Cracked the front section of the heel clean off!

Now I’m sure I could take my boots to the local shoe repair man and have them fixed up in a jiffy, but why let someone else do something when I can try to fix it myself? (Please note, there is some sarcasm pointed at myself here – there is nothing wrong with paying the professionals to do what they do and if I wore these boots every day, I would. This is a temporary fix that I acknowledge may not even last an evening.).

This is where poly-clay comes in. Work it into shape, bake it in your oven and, in this case, apply the piece with sturdy glue.


After baking the piece (10 minutes for each 1/4″ of clay at 275 degrees – don’t over bake!) it’s is ready to be applied. I’m going to attach it with Gorilla Glue, which has epoxy-like qualities. Considering the boot material I *should* be able to pry it off without absolutely destroying the heel when it’s time to take it to a real cobbler.

I’ll let you know how this works out for me.

I have a great Steampunk costume that I made in 2009 when we enjoyed Halloween with friends on Frenchman Street in New Orleans. In the crush of reveling bodies I never managed to get more than a head-shot of my own costume. The hat unfortunately did not survive the plane ride home. This year we’re doing a Mad Hatter Tea Party in my front yard (see Dogs and Cats Living Together… Mass Hysteria!” My Favorite Holiday!) and I’m recycling the costume that my friends have never seen.

The Humble Bowler Hat, Pre-Transformation

The quick fix for the hat is a hat conversion. I’m going to take a bowler hat I have and transform it (temporarily) into a top hat. The beauty of this transformation is that it doesn’t require any special tools, just the existing hat, some fabric, flexible poster board, a lining fabric (optional, but I’ll explain why it’s a good idea) some glue and tape. I used Tacky Glue, but you could go the hot glue route. I didn’t feel like burning my fingers.

1. Measure around the hat, where it attaches to the brim – on the outside.

2. Measure the height of  the crown. The top hat must be at least this tall. A good top hat height is 6″.

More instructions after the jump.  (more…)