Steampunk on the cheap

Creeperbane2Creeperbane2 Victorian ScoundrelIndianapolis, IN Icrontian
edited January 2015 in Style

Here in Indiana the con season kicks of in a few months, as well as a rather large steampunk event next month. As an individual who is rather in to steampunk, but also on a rather slim budget I am looking to cosplay steampunk but looking to do it without depleting my finances whilst still not looking like trash. So the question stands, how can I do this. Places I can get cheap bits and bobs, perhaps techniques to age existing clothing. Also noting that goggles will not be an issue, I wear glasses which would render goggles quite impractical.



  • IlriyasIlriyas The Syrupy Canadian Toronto, Ontario Icrontian

    Light blue or grey overalls (Or simply brown or grey pants with suspenders), long sleeved white button-up shirt and a brown flatcap.

    That combination, done right makes you look like a late 18th/early 19th century Steelworker.

    I'm more into Cyberpunk (The original, and actually, well punk. Fight the Man. Fight the Establishment. Fight the Corporations) but Steampunk, from the images I'm seeing is mainly comprised of overly-stylized clothing and mechanisms. If it's Victorian England then very few people would be able to afford the sort of styles and gadgets commonly associated with the aesthetic.

    Members of the working class tended to look like this, something I imagine would still hold true in a Victorian Steampunk setting.

  • CBCB Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Der Millionendorf- Icrontian

    and, only very specific occupations need goggles, no matter how steamy or punky it gets. :D

  • MyrmidonMyrmidon Baron von Puttenham California Icrontian

    You mention you don't want goggles because of the glasses on your face... but have you considered goggles that only stay on your head? These also make a good accessory for your rearview mirror, or work well wrapped around a top hat.

    Cheap goggle recipe
    Acquire the following:
    -Brown spray paint
    -Gold spray paint
    -Old softball (garage sale, may have an old one)
    -Leather stitching needle
    -Old belt (suggest a woman's belt with a good looking buckle... goodwill is AWESOME for funky dollar-belts)
    -Fur lining (couple bucks at a craft store)
    -PVC bushings (cents at a hardware store. You'll need to size the suckers up. We're looking for the inch-or-so long hollow cylinders with larger diameter, smaller length hexagonal prisms on the ends)

    Do the following:
    1. Rip the stitching out of the softball. Discard (eat? I dunno) the core.
    2. Cut the leather piece in half through the small section (it should be an inch-or-so long cut... don't cut the long way!)
    3. Hold one of the leather pieces up to your eye with the round part pointing to your nose, and the flat, thin part (where you cut) pointing toward your ear. See? Looks like a one-sided blindfold. Make a note of where eyes would look out.
    4. Use the cylinder-side of the PVC bushing to draw circles on the leather pieces where the eyes would go.
    5. Cut the holes out of the circles. Keep them slightly smaller than the cylinder diameter of the PVC bushing (it should be interference fit).
    6. Work the bushing through the holes so that the hexagon butts up against the 'inside' of the 'blindfold.' You may need to work the leather a little to get it to stretch, or cut the holes bigger. If you've over-cut the holes, get the other piece of softball leather and start over.
    7. Cut the belt in half.
    8. Cut a small rectangular piece of the belt off of the solid side (not the side with holes or the side with the buckle... cut out of the ex-middle of the belt).
    9. Hold the eyepieces up to your eyes, determine a realistic looking width, and place the small belt-piece in the center - this will be a nosepiece that will hold the eyepieces together. Include enough overlap to stitch each eyepiece to the nosepiece, but don't stitch yet.
    10. Using pins, needles, or a friend, hold the three pieces together carefully and up to your face, as if you were wearing them.
    11. Buckle the belt halves about halfway up the holes.
    12. Wrap the belt around your head so that the buckle is in the rear and the sides of the belt match up with the sides of the leather eyepieces. Measure the length. Include about an inch of overlap.
    13. With everything measured, take it all back apart.
    14. Spray paint the leather 'blindfold' brown.
    15. Spray paint the PVC bushings gold.
    16. Spray paint the entire belt brown (except the buckle, keep that good and sexy).
    17. Coat the outside "corner" of the cylinder and hexagon of the bushings with glue, and push them through the holes in the leather eyepieces.
    18. Stitch each eyepiece to the nosepiece with the low-width part of the eyepiece opposite the stitched side. You should now have goggles without a strap - hold it to your face to make sure it looks realistic.
    19. Stitch the belt halves to the opposite sides of the eyepiece, right at the low-width part of the leather pieces. Keep the centerline of the low-width part coincident with the centerline of the belt.
    20. Finally, cut out fur lining the same size as the eyepieces. This is not a cosmetic step, so measurement is not important.
    21. Cut out holes in the fur lining corresponding to the holes in the eyepieces.
    22. Glue the fur lining to the inside of the eyepieces - if you ever DO wear these on your face, you'll need it!
    23. Buckle and find a good angle to perch upon your head or hat! Tighten if needed.

    Hat ideas
    Acquire the following:

    -Cheap plastic hat from a mega-mart style store

    -Cheap sunglasses (especially the ones that look really sleek, with tons of plastic). Alternatively, cheap welding/swimming goggles. Broken ones are fine, to save you some money.
    -Playing cards
    -Paper cogs/gears, or cog/gear confetti
    -If you want the good stuff, there are plastic cogs you can get.
    -Want the really good stuff? Lego gears, use a knife to hollow them out more.
    -Paper watch faces (print and cut them out)
    -Brown or gold spray paint

    Real simple... just glue the shit you want onto the hat. My mom has spray painted the plastic of sleek sunglasses to look gold, then glued them to the hat around the brim. You can attach the ribbon as normal and tuck cards into it. Glued-on watch faces, if done correctly, can look more like actual timepieces than glued paper. And, of course, arrange a bunch of cogs, easy peasy.

  • MyrmidonMyrmidon Baron von Puttenham California Icrontian

    Cheap pocketwatch substitute

    Got a vest and pocket, but don't wanna shell out for a pocketwatch? Go to a shitty poser-store (Hot Topic or Spencer's Gifts should do well) and buy some cheap-ass gangsta jewellery with a chain. Take a pair of wire cutters and cut off anything irritating, then use clothespins to pin the chain ends to the inside of the correct pockets.

    Other hints:

    Brown, unassuming scarves can also go well. You can use trenchcoats from Ross or Goodwill (if you can find them), which mean all you need after that will be headgear and boots (the rest of the ensemble can easily just be slacks and a shirt). Suspenders are winners, and most thrift shops sell them cheap. There are a couple of books called "mini weapons of mass destruction" that detail how to make rubber band or tack shooters out of junk... Junk that can easily be sanded and spray painted to make a futuristic victorian weapon. Two belts arranged in an "X" over your pelvis give you a place to put holsters (army surplus store), ancient-looking books, gadgety-looking doodads (I might stick an old pressure gauge into a hunk of cardboard painted silver, cut a curved chunk out of the cardboard, and glue some cogs or something to it), etc.

    My general strategy:

    I would choose a victorian archetype - PI, aviator, diplomat, railroad engineer, inventor. I would dress as if I were the VICTORIAN version of that thing (trenchcoat for a PI, brown pants tucked into socks and huge brown boots for an aviator, work shirt, suspenders, bowtie for a railroad engineer), then accessorize from their (hats, belts, large boots, welding gloves). You can really make a few accessories go a long way...

    Our engagement photos an wedding were all steampunk themed. Here's an example of an engagement photo:

    Here's how we built the costume:
    1. @Teramona talked me into buying a vest. I try to only buy one large item per costume, and then only if my wife is REALLY good at talking me into it (I don't like spending either).
    2. I picked a shirt with a stylized, asymmetrical design that I already owned, so it would 'shake up' the arrangement (an unidentified white and black THING is peeking under my left shoulder). This way I've made the costume more 'busy' without really adding anything.
    3. We were told we were going to a train graveyard, so I decided that with the shirt and the vest, I'd go for a youthful railroad investor.
    4. I wore big brown boots with buckles, and black pants - again, something already in my wardrobe. YMMV.
    5. For accessories, I selected only a pocketwatch and a hat. The pocketwatch could have just been a chain from Spencer's gifts.
    6. The hat... is not really fair. The photographer had a friend that had actually made a metal hat. However, I had planned to go with just my hair (which works excellently for Victorian photos, if I say so myself. I count it as an 'accessory...' because I'm just that kinda guy!). You can easily get away with lightly sanding and spraypainting a chintzy plastic hat from target, and then maybe using careful local bends to create the 'hammered' look. It'll be less fancy, but really all you need to do is busy-up a victorian outfit.

    Terin's costume:
    1. She had a corset from some thing-or-other. That's the 'expensive' item of the ensemble.
    2. The non-accessories - simple brown skirt, simple white shirt, stockings, boots. All stuff that comes out of a typical gal's wardrobe.
    3. First accessory - a leather belt I've had for years and years (it's actually almost destroyed... I think it was bonded leather or something terrible). Buckled and hung at a rakish angle. No belt loops necessary.
    4. Second accessory - a teacup hung from her hip (this could have been a two-dollar cup from goodwill, but she insisted it be something meaningful, so instead it's the freakin' Shelley teacup I bought her as a gift - a bit on the rare side to be swinging around your hip!)
    5. Third accessory - necklace. Easy. This could have been a simple five-dollar affair off of etsy (though the prices for steampunky necklaces are going up), a long chain spray painted bronze with a toy clock attached to it... whatever.
    6. Fourth accessory - hand warmers. She could have made these by cutting up socks - as it stands, I believe she bought these. They have a white ribbon between the thumb and forefinger... so yeah, these could have been made from socks and lacy ribbon.
    7. Fifth accessory - Goggles - I made those with the recipe I've given you above.

    Thing to note here - the ensembles all start steampunk-free by just coming up with the clothing. It's the accessories that really make it something else.

    Good luck!

  • RyderRyder Kalamazoo, Mi Icrontian

    I pinged the wrong person... obviously :awesome:

  • MyrmidonMyrmidon Baron von Puttenham California Icrontian

    Yeah ya did. ><

  • TeramonaTeramona Consulting Tea Specialist Best Coast! Icrontian

    @Ryder said:
    I pinged the wrong person... obviously :awesome:

    The difference is when I'm at work... I work.

  • MyrmidonMyrmidon Baron von Puttenham California Icrontian

    @Teramona said:

    Shh. SHH.

  • RyanFodderRyanFodder Detroit, MI Icrontian

    When I'm at work, I play WoW.

  • Creeperbane2Creeperbane2 Victorian Scoundrel Indianapolis, IN Icrontian

    Here is a pic of my first attempt at steampunk at Indy Comicon 2015, note the shield is NOT part of the costume but this is the only pic I have of myself in costume from the con.

  • BobbyDigiBobbyDigi ? R U #Hats ! TX Icrontian

    Good start.

    Next time... take more pictures :pimp:


  • NullenVoydNullenVoyd Orlandish Icrontian

    Just take the plunge, lob off an appendage, and buy a rusty hydraulic lift and glue it in place of the limb.

    Actually tempted to put something together myself. Seems much of the 1700's re-enactment garb I've slowly collected for a pirate outfit, are somewhat relevant to this style.

  • Creeperbane2Creeperbane2 Victorian Scoundrel Indianapolis, IN Icrontian
    edited June 2015

    Anyone know a good place to find uninstalled copper wire relatively cheaply. I'm not saying much on what I need it for, let us just say......Teslabow

  • IlriyasIlriyas The Syrupy Canadian Toronto, Ontario Icrontian

    Home Depot

  • aspieRommelaspieRommel Icrontic politico Indianapolis, IN Icrontian

    @Ilriyas said:
    Home Depot

    Ace Hardware
    Harbor Freight Tools (maybe)
    Suding Hardware
    American Hardware (the hardware store on Virginia Ave. across from the Wildwood Market)

    Just to name a few suggestions, @Creeperbane2 .

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