I have joined a new steampunk group recently formed through Congleton U3A and I am really excited! We think we are the only steampunk group in the whole of the U3A organisation and we are truly having fun exploring ways to dress up and adorn ourselves in long skirts, boots, a variety of tops, hats, sun umbrellas and punky jewelry. So far there are up to nine people in our group and five who have managed to get outfits (and go out in them) and four who are plucking up the courage; but we hope to grow in the coming season. For those of you who don’t know, steampunk sits within science fantasy and mixes Victorian dress with industrial elements. We are all at the ‘softer’ end of punk so no corsets, pipework or Penny Farthings appearing but I suppose there is plenty of time yet!

When I joined I wanted to ‘create’ rather than dress up (I am too large!!) but I got sucked in and reckon one has to enter into the spirit of things. What to wear though! I mentioned it to a friend who I met through the UKQU FaceBook group and she sent me an evening dress she no longer wore (thanks Robbie). My sister and I searched the charity shops and found various clothes to be adapted or cut up and so I used some of these things to make, among other things, steampunk bags.

I started with a base of sateen layered with batting and quilted a piece 10″ by 22″. This was trimmed to size, folded in half (right side together) and stitched up both long sides before creating sugar bag corners. Lace was then added in strips, each gathered layer was 6″ deep and at least twice the width of the bag to give sufficient fullness. The first layer fell 3 or 4″ below the bottom of the bag. The lace was cut from our charity shop finds and hemmed before attaching, although the petrol blue layer had a beautiful edging that I was able to use (see below). One of the lace pieces was embellished with glass beads and sequins so these had to be removed at the top and the bottom of the 6″ strip because it was in danger of breaking the machine needles. When a strip was stitched on the top, the edges were zig zagged to reinforce and neaten

For the first bag I added two layers of gathered lace and then a third and fourth lace pieces were laid flat and stitched into place. This covered the whole bag base leaving only 0.5″ space at the top. I added a little bling which I found in my ‘bits and bobs’ box to sit under the flap and it gives a little added interest.

I created a flap to go over the opening and edged this with matching lace. The flap was 7″ by 9″ and the base satin quilted flap was covered with lace which was free motion quilted on top. An edging of matching lace was added to three sides of the flap after rounding the front corners. Finally a lining was placed on top of the lace flap and sewn all around the front and sides. The sewn edges were then clipped around the curved corners and then turned inside out, bagging-style. This was then top stitched close to the edge.

The straps were made from an off-cut of black cotton 50″ long and 4.5″ wide. and a piece of batting 2″ by 50″. The black cotton strip was wrapped around the batting and a long edge tucked under to neaten. The seam was top stitched as was each edge. Where there was a gap between the stitched rows, I did an extra stitched line to keep it evenly spaced.

The strap and flap were pinned to the bag and stitched in place for extra strength. A bag lining was cut and created the same way as the bag was. I added a three section pocket to the inside. The outside bag was put into the bag lining with right sides facing, the seams were lined up and the two pieces were stitched around the top leaving a 5″ gap to turn the whole thing inside out (carefully). Once the bag was turned inside out, the gap was closed and pinned and then the bag was top stitched around the last seam. This bag had beads and sequins on the flap but there is space to add some cogs, material buttons, crosses and other things if one wanted but, as I said earlier, we are the softer side of steampunk.

The second bag differed in that it had a third layer of gathered lace and only an edging of flat beaded lace.(top picture). The next one I make I plan to use old white and cream linens with lots of embroidery and beading in a crazy patchwork style.

I now have an outfit, a hat, umbrella and bag. Some years ago I did a bit of steampunk jewelry with a beading class, and during a weekend retreat we ran, so I am getting these pieces out and dusting them down (see below). So now I am ready for an outing to a Steampunk Festival and a couple of local events we are involved with this month.

Wish me luck!

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