Aug 19, 2010

In which costume hell week (or fortnight) 2010 begins

After ten years' worth of doing it, you might think I'd know better than to start a costume at the last possible moment. Of course, you might also think the Loch Ness Monster exists. I'm not saying it doesn't, but I am saying that there's not a whole lot of hard evidence for it. The same goes for the evidence that I will ever start sewing a costume before the last possible second.

This tendency, of course, is really a subset of "If I'm making it for me, I can put it off a little longer; oh crap, I don't have any longer." So if I were to sew you a costume, I would be fully capable of starting it in a timely fashion.

Since this costume is for me, however, I was required by the laws of my own reality to wait until I only have two weeks to finish.

What costume, you ask? Oh, it's an answer to my personal steampunk dilemma — to the love/hate relationship I have with this neo-Victorian costume and aesthetic trend that combines two things I love dearly (technology and Victorian-era style) but which somehow manages to offend me the way many people do it.

I know. I'm a terrible person for thinking some people's "steampunk" costuming is a horrible, mutant, self-indulgent, Mary-Sue-ish interpretation of techno-Victorian style. It's terrible of me because there's an attitude, in steampunk culture, that steampunk is a bit about uniqueness, and expressing yourself, and defying convention. I approve of and support all of these things — and yet I still think some people's steampunk costuming is more like visually screaming "LOOK HOW F***ING BADASS I AM!" than it is respectful of the Victorian/technological aesthetic and ideals. And that offends me because I love Victoriana and technology more than I like watching people preen and show off.

Hate me for it if you like. ;)

Anyway, if you do, you may be pleased to know my attitude has presented me with an inescapable conflict: Since the rise of steampunk costuming, I've felt driven to make a steampunk costume that I DO like — nay, that I love! And that requires me to research and confront what I dislike, so that I can fail to do those things.

Aside from starting a frickin' costume on time for once, this is probably the hardest costume-related thing I've ever done. It's taken me a couple of years to get to the point where I can even envision a steampunk costume I can bear to wear.

And so, the costume

One of the Things I Dislike is when a costume or character takes steampunkiness Far Too Damn Seriously. (Note that I am not accusing the people in the costumes of taking steampunk too seriously. I am, however, saying that if they don't, their costumes and characterization utterly fail to show it. ;)) At the steampunk fashion show at Dragon*Con last year, the models I loved best were the ones with a sense of humor.

Thus, I was inspired: Why not do a steampunk costume that inherently has a sense of humor? I could even pack a ton of over-seriousness into it and potentially be a walking piece of satire. A self-contained in-joke. But I don't want to be a standoffish in-joke. I want to be an in-joke that everyone can share. Something so ridiculous that people can glance at me in costume and go "OMG is that what I think it is? That is Hilarious! Take a picture!"

So, you know. I could do something like a steampunk version of the video game character Princess Peach. And what's a Princess Peach costume without a Mario to match it?

Yesssss. This is the light at the end of the brass-goggled tunnel. This I can do. This I will do. the next two weeks.

Yes. Laugh at me. Laugh! Your laughter will fuel my own hysteria, and thus give me energy!

And even though I am doing a tongue-in-cheek, video game steampunk costume, my sense of steampunk (which pretty much matches that described in this blog post on the Steampunk Fashion LJ community) demands that I design using real research into real Victorian clothing.

So! Using the evil power of Amazon Prime, I magically made this book appear on my doorstep today! And there are two more that should show up tomorrow.

Instant research

And after doing copious Internet research, I came up with this not-entirely-satisfactory preliminary sketch:

Peachy sketch
Steampunk Princess Peach dress idea. Obviously I still need to figure out the hair. Also: Pardon the fact that this is a photo and not a scan. My scanner is currently indisposed. ;)

It needs more insanity. More Peach. More steampunk. More everything! It needs to be more over-the-top in all ways! And really, this is just a structural idea sketch, not a complete costume sketch; this is basically just an idea for the bits that I would need to literally SEW. Accessories and colors will help transform it. A parasol will help. The Princess Peach crown, and the earrings, and the fabric choices will help.

More money would help, too. Turning the crazy ideas in my head into reality seems even more insane on this month's sadly credit-card-dependent budget. (On the off chance that you have an overabundance of charitable feeling toward me and my geeky costuming, and a bit of money you'd like to donate, feel free to drop me a line. Even a small donation would help, and I'd be happy to give you a big fat "This costume sponsored by" shout-out and a link on the official costume info/documentation page — when one exists, on my Web site and/or here on the blog.)

And because my life is meant to be overly complicated — the Quicksilver Crafter reality is driven by stuffing too much productivity into short spans of time — this is not the only costume I'm working on. A collaboration with the lovely Robot, Monster & Ghost Co. will be unveiled at Dragon*Con this year, too.

Imagine me surrounded by sketches, coffee cups, fabric, newsprint-turned-pattern-pieces, and vintage accessories, wherein two fluffy cats and a long-haired boyfriend are trapped, and you have a decent estimation of what my next two weeks will be like.
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