Introduction: Gothic Steampunk Chatelaine Belt
A chatelaine is an accessory which certainly should be making a comeback into everyday life. This one, which I made for a film, is also a fashion item for cosplay or for every-day Steampunk/Gothic wear but if you are always losing your scissors and/or keys, as I am, then it's a must.
In its Victorian form, the chatelaine, being worn either by the housekeeper or 'lady of the house' accommodated all sorts of useful items such as keys, scissors, vinaigrette, watches etc., (see Pinterest image from 'steclub.ru' above for a historical reference). Whereas Roman and Viking women and men wore a chatelaine to hold personal items such as tweezers and nail files. My Steampunk/Gothic version has a suitable set of symbolic accoutrements.
The chatelaine is a relatively easy piece to source and put together, furthermore it can involve a satisfying mix of refashioning and upcycling.
Traditionally crafted in bronze or silver filigree and chain, my version has as its basis, a surprising find from a French haberdashers, to wit a bikini scarf made from blue thread interwoven between feng shui lucky Emperor coin. However any sort of light cord will do for the base, I thought the fine coloured thread from the bikini scarf achieved the delicacy of the traditional chatelaine designs.
Step 1: Materials
You will need:
A basic simple belt or strip of leather or similar fabric and a buckle.
Several yards of cord (I recuperated mine from a bikini scarf)
Coins, buttons, beads (I recuperated mine from a Turkish slipper)
Fruit crate/orange box wood
Paper tissue or napkin
Watercolour paint or pigment
Miniature perfume bottle
Glue gun - I actually hand-sewed most of this project but for certain items the glue gun came in very handy.
Step 2: The Basic Belt and Chatelaine Carpentry
Having found a suitably narrow, navy blue belt on which to base my chatelaine, one given me by my cousin, I started to deconstruct the thread and tassels of the bikini scarf.
Once I had everything broken down to its components, I was now ready to plait and rebraid the cord into the supporting hangers for the Gothic paraphernalia.
Each individual braid of thread or 'chain' was looped over the belt and sewn securely in place, some with a coin and beads taken from the slipper. I varied each one so as to make the final effect more interesting and added tassels of cord to create the same effect of asymmetry.
The Emperor coins also served another purpose, in that they kept each 'chain' separate and facing forward and also carried a theme of mysticism and introduce a Far Eastern flavour to my design.
The reason for my choice of beads was inspired by the tradition that Feng shui coins are considered to be even luckier when associated with the colour red.
Step 3: Vade Mecum or Grimoire
I had real fun planning and making this. I had already used most of my Turkish slipper, which was one of a pair I had bought new the previous Summer from a thrift shop and worn to destruction but the upper was in good condition. I was, therefore just left with small sections of beaded fabric but these made the finished book look even more ancient and mystical.
For the book covers I used one of our standard recycling materials (other than pallets), fruit crate wood and covered the front and spine with slipper fabric.
The pages were made from a paper napkin, which had a great Mediaeval illuminated manuscript design. The back cover had the same design but in a thicker tissue paper (shown top left inside the book) I had found some years earlier and used to cover and upcycle an old dressing table mirror.
This sort of ephemera turns up regularly in thrift shops for a few cents, relics of defunct craft and card-making shops. It is well worth squirrelling away for further use and keeping all the scraps too!
I sewed a row of beads from the slipper onto the spine, to both embellish it and define the edges of the book. The whole piece was glued together including adding a 'lock'.
Step 4: Vinaigrette, Potion or Poison Bottle
Again this was another fun thing to make and used up yet another item from my hoard, this time one of those small perfume bottles that come in duty-free or gift collections.
The Vinaigrette was created with the aid of an old wine cork, sculpted to fit, gold thread, beads from the slipper and some purple/violet watercolour paint! This time the glue gun proved invaluable!
Step 5: Aigrette Totem
I also added a bouquet of feathers both from my own chickens, which I always collect when they moult and some Guinea hen plumes from my neighbour's poultry. I put together a bunch of feathers, with the ends enclosed in a piece of slipper.
You can of course add many more accessories to your chatelaine. A bunch of rusty keys, for example would look very fetching.
This chatelaine though was made for a film, for which I designed and created the costumes: The Golden Goblet and my remit for this character was 'Gothic Witch. If you want to see the film it is available on YouTube.
Hope you've enjoyed this project and wishing you all the very best from Normandie, Sue aka Pavlovafowl
Participated in the