Steampunk Utility Belt: The Beginning

Project 8, part 1 – Steam-what?

I’m unreasonably pleased by a pattern piece called “spoon loops.” 😀

Welcome back to Mukashi no Sewing! It may be a little ambitious, but I’ve decided to work on a second sewing project alongside the Victorian Undergarments one. This project came about because I attended Virtual Costume College 2021 at the end of July, and the one workshop I decided to take part in was for sewing a steampunk teacup holster. It sounded fun, and of course I love tea – so why wouldn’t I want to be able to take a teacup with me wherever I went!?

Example teacup holsters from the pattern’s creator, Sherry Ramaila of Steamtorium on Etsy.

Unfortunately Finn dislocated two toes (!!!) and the resulting flurry of vet visits and hound care meant I had to miss the actual workshop. Don’t worry – he’s recovering well! He’s just a little upset about having both back feet wrapped all the time, and he’s very upset that I won’t allow him to zoom for another 6-8 weeks. Poor little dude! However, the delay meant that I found out that Sherry also produced a pattern for a whole steampunk “utility belt” to carry such necessities as the aforementioned teacup holster, a fan, and a phone pouch.

Example utility belt photo also from Steamtorium on Etsy – she sells them ready-made as well as the patterns!

Jeff Vandermeer, author of The Steampunk Bible, somewhat jokingly describes steampunk as “Mad Scientist Inventor [invention (steam x airship or metal man/baroque stylings) x (pseudo) Victorian setting] + progressive or reactionary politics x adventure plot.” The Victorian setting of steampunk, fuelled by such historical literature luminaries such as Jules Verne, Shunro Oshikawa, and HG Wells, was what originally drew me to the styling, but I stayed for the philosophy. Vandermeer writes, “Steampunk focuses on the Victorian era not only because of its aesthetic and technology, but because it recognizes within that epoch issues similar to those facing society in the twenty-first century.”

Issues like “why do I have more interfacing than fabric for this project?!”

He goes on to say, “Steampunk’s key lessons are not about the past. They are about the instability and obsolescence of our own times. A host of objects and services that we see each day all around us are not sustainable. …Once they’re gone, they’ll seem every bit as weird and archaic as top hats, crinolines, magic lanterns, clockwork automatons, absinthe, walking-sticks, and paper-scrolled player pianos. …The past is a kind of future that has already happened.”

The Victorians struggled with many of the same societal problems we face today – racism, the rise of nationalism, the rapacity of industrialization and capitalism, and the effects of centuries of colonialism. Steampunk as a literary genre imagines a world in which we never advanced beyond steam as a technology, but instead advanced as a society to be more inclusive, cooperative, and creative. As an aesthetic, it fights against the mass-produced and instead glorifies the hand-made and peculiar. Turns out, that’s just my cup of tea! 😉

Also my cup of tea – my new iron! Having a legit steam iron has already been a huge game-changer.

So, I decided to sew the full utility belt as a fun side project! Instead of the skirt-lifters (I prefer my skirts unlifted, thank you!), I will be drafting a parasol-holder that can clip in to the belt. The fabric I chose was given to me by my Aunt Susie; it originally belonged to a late friend of the family and I’m very excited to use it for this project! Join me in the next installment, when I will spend probably hours fusing differing weights of interfacing and regretting my life choices! 😀

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