I loves me some steampunk.  To honor my new obsession, I decided to outfit myself as a steampunk fairy for upcoming dork festivals.  I have over fifteen years of sewing and crafting experience, but anyone with a basic knowledge of machine and hand stitcing (and perhaps a little faith and patience) will be able to make her own beautiful interpretation.  Fairy wings are forthcoming and so not pictured, by the way.

Having previously employed myself constructing commissioned costumes, I have a significant storehouse of odds and ends.  I made a deliberate attempt to use only what I had on hand for this corset, though I did end up spending about $10 for bias tape, brown thread, and grommets.  If you purchase all required supplies, this corset could set you back up to $100, I would imagine.

This particular design took me about fifteen hours to complete.  A significant portion of that time was dedicated to hand stitching (and taking photos for this 'ible!).  Hand stitching will be an unavoidable aspect of this corset so prepare yourself with some background movies or tunes, maybe a hand brace, and a delicious adult beverage.  If you like this instructable, please visit my website at www.ericayoung.com to see more of my tutorials, projects, and passions.      

Oh!  And in case you haven't noticed, I'm wordy.  If you're not a reader, the good news is: I have LOTS of photos. :-)   Also, you may be wondering what this has to do with summer since I'm entering the summer sewing contest.  The answer?  It has everything to do with summer--summer festival attire, summer night out on the town attire (pair this with some sexy jeans and gold high heals for a great look!), summer boredom remedy...

So, with all of that out of the way, let the creativity begin!

Step 1: What You Will Need

  Gather Your Supplies

  1. About 2 yards of fabric--this will depend on your measurements, fabric width, etc.  I culled from my pile of scraps a yard of chocolate brown cotton and a blue linen (the linen was actually a pair of pants I upcycled).  Ideally, you will need something that complements your necktie selection while also being very sturdy.  It's a corset, remember!  Lots of tugging and stretching of fabric will ensue and the more sturdy your fabric, the more stress it will take.
  2. Pattern--I don't typically use commercial patterns, but I really like Laughing Moon's #100 'Ladies Victorian Underwear' and have come back to it time and time again.  There are numerous pattern companies that print Victorian era corsets and several websites that will teach you how to draft your own.
  3. Boning--I use 1/4 inch white spring steel available online or at select local fabric stores.  I recommend using something other than the plastic boning usually sold prepackaged at chain stores; steel boning is worth the investment.  Additionally, I would have used a traditional victorian busk for this one, but didn't have it on hand and stuck with my spend-no-$-use-what-you-have rule.
  4. Neckties--Beg your friends, hit up the 2-for-1 accessory sales at the Salvation Army, and put out an APB on your FB page.  They'll trickle in.
  5. Grommets & Setting Tool--If you have an eyelet wrench, great!  If not, you can buy grommets with accompanying tool at any local fabric store. 
  6. Hammer, Newsprint (or other forgiving surface)
  7. Corset Lacing
  8. Bias Tape--single fold in coordinating color. Or not.  Be bold.  Be tacky.  Be brazen with color.  I don't care.  By the way, one package (4yds) will usually suffice.
  9. Lace, buttons, decorative trims of your choice.
  10. Scissors, Measuring Tape, Straight Pins, Needle, Thread, (and if you're anything like me...) Seam Ripper--the usual arsenal of sewing accoutrements, in other words.
  11. Iron, Ironing Board, Sewing Machine--mmmm, duh?
  12. Patience.  And maybe beer.

<p>This is amazing! I have started collecting ties :D I only have a pattern for an underbust corset that I have used before, so I'll be trying an underbust variation (I suppose it then qualifies as a high waisted skirt rather than a dress). Still, very excited :D</p>
<p>So that' what happened to my ties.</p><p>I've been looking for them since ever &hellip; </p>
That corset/dress is absolutely amazing! I am definitely making this! It looks gorgeous! And the under-dress is on my to-do list as well! Great tutorial, thank you very much for taking the time to share it with us! You are one very clever lady!
just want to let you know, if you're an already svelt person (not trying to hold too much in) Zip Ties make great boning. just cut them to length, then round out the ends so they're not pokey. adds to the use-what's-on-hand nature of the project, and no waiting for boning to come in the mail. :P (i get really impatient... i want to do it now!)
This is absolutely fabulous!!! I know what you mean about practicing with the grommets. One trick I have used is to make a strip to attach to the back of the corset instead of putting grommets directly onto the corset. Once I get the strip perfect, I sew it onto the back. I have ruined corsets before by not getting the grommets right. That is really depressing! I also make sure to add boning to both sides of the strip so it doesn't wrinkle up when it is tightly laced. Now I am dying to try this one with the neck ties. I will do the salvation thing. Once I found a bag of neckties for about $3.00.
Well Done!!!!!
Love It!!!
This is fantastic, and thank you SO much for posting this. One day I will use this to actually make this...<br><br>Honestly, I bow to your skills and creativity.
You have mad skills! Everything you did to bring us this instructable looks so labour intensive, just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate it. Thank you!
Wow! Just, wow! This is amazing! Your hard work really shows! This is great! :0D
I loooove this dress!!! Its so funky and unique! I've started collecting ties and I am definately going to try this out for myself. <br> <br>By the way your instructable is like, THE reason I joined Instructables in the first place. I was googling &quot;steampunk dress&quot; etc coz I needed some costume ideas and stumbled upon this mind-bogglingly awesome dress, on this equally mind-bogglingly awesome website where brilliant, creative individuals make all kinds of mind-bogglingly amazing stuff! and thinking myself to be kind of creative also, I wasted no time in joining up! haha :D
An awesome project and a very thoughtfully designed instructable.
I love it!!!! Beautiful!
This is a beautifully constructed instructable! Your wordiness is very helpful and very much appreciated! I love your careful instructions on the construction of the corset piece, and will definitely reference this 'ible in the future! Might have to put a spin on the necktie thing, though yours is a clever and cute design! Lovely. And thank you.
Hey I'm the 17,000th viewer!
Omg you are a genius. i finally have a use for those ugly ties i have in the back of the closet....Thank you
wow, very creative. I'm making a variation, Instead I'm making a skirt from all the ties! any ideas to help?
This woman has an instructable on it: http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-a-Skirt-from-Neckties/ Necktie skirts have been around for some time--I'm sure there's lots of info on the web, too. Good luck!
Thank you! her instructable helped alot, But I put my own flare on it by using paint splatter. It sounds ugly, but it's not. Maybe I'll post it?
I adore this! Want to make. Where did you get the dress you're wearing under the corset? Also, where did you get your boots?
I made the under-dress. You can read details in the last step of this instructable. The boots are 9 West from five or six years ago with intermittent repairs. They might be my favorite boots ever, even though I have *official* Victorian oxford toe brown lace up boots that might be more appropriate for this invented era.
Cool! Do you have a pattern for it?
It looks generally like the scan below. I drew the pattern right on the fabric. The armholes were simply cut on a slight diagonal and finished with bias tape of the same fabric. The neckline is folded over so a ribbon can be threaded through to create the shoulder straps. The top and skirt are both stitched to the waistline. It's really simple--I'm sure you can make it happen! Sorry it took a while to get back to you. Cheers!
Thanks a ton! No worries at all :) I'm excited
Absolutely gorgeous -- this is my fantasy dress! (And I envy your sewing experience and confidence -- when I sew, I hold my breath the whole time, just from fear! ;) Request: could you add a closer-up picture or two to show details of the under-dress? That's the part that looks most intriguing/complicated to me -- I kind of get it from your description, but wish I could better visualize the ruffles and how the straps continue from the drawstring. Thanks for a great post!
Sorry it took me so long to get these up. I hope this helps with the construction of the under dress.
Wow, the underneath one is just as beautiful as the necktie dress in a completely different way! If I really do attempt to make these, my whole life will become Fancier and Just Plain Better in every way, I'm pretty sure. :) Thanks so much for posting this part! :)!
This is fantastic! :D i think that this is one of the more doable steampunk fashions on instructables because of the (assumable) reuse of ties for the outer part of the dress. (: it looks amazing!
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Absolutely prefect! All you need now is some sort of prop *cough* <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/The-Bellulus-Sniper-Rifle-A-Steampunk-Prop-rifle/" rel="nofollow">http://www.instructables.com/id/The-Bellulus-Sniper-Rifle-A-Steampunk-Prop-rifle/</a> *cough*<br> <br> ooh erm whew 'scuse me!<br> <br> <br> Seriously though, my little sister wanted to do something like this for a while and I'm sure she'll love to see these instructions!<br>
Gorgeous gun! I've been modding nerf guns so that we can play steampunk in the house ;-).
Thanks! The steampunk nerf battles sound brilliant!
you look like a splicer from bioshock
Gorgeous. The outfit is really terrific too.
As much as I admire your steampunk necktie corset dress, I want to know when and where are the &quot;upcoming dork festivals&quot;!
Heehee! I'm making this plus wings and weaponry for Starfest 2011 in Denver. I also saw quite a few steampunkers at this year's CO Renaissance Festival south of Denver. I guess if you're a time-traveler, you can go to any festival and be right at home! There are plenty of Comic-cons, costume-cons, you-name-it cons where you can strut your stuff. Even regular 'non-dorky' festivals like Folklife or Bumbershoot if you're in the Seattle area... :-D
great Job that looks terrific!
Never met a woman in a corset yet that I didn't adore!
if you alternate stitching from top to bottom one peice, then bottom to top the next, then T to B, etc, you can avoid the creeping shift that can happen if you sew all the seams in one direction :)
Great tip! I usually do that just to conserve thread, and sometimes I find (depending on the fabric) a little creep still makes it's way through. It certainly helps a great deal, though. Thanks!
0_0... ^.^! That is officially the coolest thing I've seen this week. Wish to all the gods there was a Craftster-esqe This Rocks! button to click.
hee hee... Thanks--and I love your avatar!
:D Danke! Was my first foray into drawing with a tablet.
LOVE it. Seriously. I don't know much about this steampunk business, but I'm pretty well drooling over this. And great corset demo, too! (And really, thank you thank you for being anal about process... especially ironing. People that don't iron drive me bonkers!)
Thank you! As tedious as the little steps can be, stitchers beware! You reap what you sew! (audience: *groan*, Me: &quot;You're welcome!&quot;)
This is fabulous! Inspiring! And I can't wait to make one, I just need to get a corset pattern, hopefully I can get one ffrom the company you suggested. How many ties do you think would be needed for a size 16?
I used 19 neckties around the body (with some overlap) with an additional two under the grommets. I'm pretty hourglass-ey (37-28-39) and made the corset to fit, not to cinch. When I started collecting neckties, I'd lay them out with all the skinny parts to one end and measure. I thought I needed a few more, but by the time I stitched them on the corset, I actually had a few too many. Sizing seems so arbitrary and unreliable nowadays, so I wouldn't venture a guess without knowing your measurements. Plus, if you wanteed it to cinch, you'd want to consider that in your necktie calculations. The average contemporary necktie is going to be about 1 3/8&quot; tapering even down to 1&quot; along the skinny side. Divide your measurements by that and I think you'd get a good estimation. I hope referencing my own experience helps you. If you don't have a lot of men and/or waiters in your life who are willing to donate them, spend some time scouring the two-for-one accessory deals at Goodwill and Salvation Army. Usually, ties end up costing about a dollar each.
Coolest/cutest freakin dress i've ever seen!
That is just beautifully awesome!
you're doing it wrong... here:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tie-a-tie.net/" rel="nofollow">http://www.tie-a-tie.net/</a>

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