Victorian/Steampunk Costuming Course

  I spent the last weekend in the well appointed studio belonging to a friend of mine, Julia Bremble. Julia is the corsetiere artist behind the Clessidra ( specialising in bespoke corsetry, and she also runs an online shop,  Sew Curvy, with corset kits and supplies.

 An author of a very helpful e-book on making corsets, Julia teaches corsetry as well – and her workshop is ofen used for courses and classes of other creative artists – Jenni Hampshire from Sparklewren holds regular classes there,  as is the owner of the lovely  Crikey Aphrodite.

Last weekend it was my turn, and we spent 2 lovely days working on Victorian bustle cages, bustle pads and petticoats – either in their proper Victorian form or with a twist, as Steampunk renditions.   Saturday was the bustling day. The aim was to produce either a traditional cage, or a steampunked one. Time permitting, we will also have a go at bustle pads.


Victorian bustle cage in cotton twill


Steampunk version – in silk, with funky decoration

The students, Jane and Helen, arrived on time and after a cuppa and a short chat we set to work.  The morning was spent on using the provided pattern to make their own versions, and the girls cut out the pieces and set about hemming them. Helen was creating a more traditional version of the bustle in white twill and lace, to go with the ball gown for our Spectacular ball in April (, whereas Jane was making a more colourful version in brown cotton dill and red lace, leaning towards steampunk sensibilities.



channels sewn in, time to add the boning!

Apart from learning how to construct the bustle, both ladies had a go on  Julia’s sander,  filing their steel bones – i believe it was the first time for both of them! After lunch and a good chat, fuelled by leafing through the costuming books, the girls tacked the main task of the day  – boning the bustles.


Helen’s Bustle is slowly taking shape… the lovely lace was from Sew Curvy stock!

 One of the most challenging tasks was sewing the bustle together after the bones have been inserted – you can see that Jane is enjoying every minute of that particular task!


Jane taming the cage….

just the final touches:


measuring for the waistband…

and it was done!


back view


and the side view!

 We just had enough time left to have a go at the bustle pads – most work was done in the class, with the girls being assigned homework – finishing the pads and adding lace.


Helen’s bustle pad in embroidered cotton

 After such a busy day it was now time to hit the supermarket to get the provisions for Sunday’s lunch, and thenI spent a delightful evening at Julia’s, with her lovely family – i admit I was especially taken with their greyhound, Marley…


Lovely Marley

 Sunday was a day for petticoats.  Again, the aim was to make a flounced petticoat according to authentic Victorian patterns – though  there was an option of adding  some cunning bits and to make the petti into a steampunk dress…


Victorian petticoat on a bustle cage


same pattern but in Steampunk version – in different materials and with secret ties making it possible for the skirt to be bustled up on both sides

The stundents, Jane and Suzy, opted for the Sgteampunk versions, and after measuring and drafting the patterns, the girls were soon cutting out the fabric.


cutting out those flounces…

Both girls decided to trim their flounces with lace, and to speed the proces up we decided to use the overlocker for serging the edges – and it was their first experience with the machine.


Suzy learing how to use the overlocker


And Jane having a go – and loving it!

All the flounces serged and decorated, it was time for lunch and a chat, and then promptly back to work. and a lot of wark it was as we were sewing the flounces onto the back of the petticoats and that involved a lot of pins and a lot of patience.


Pinning the flounces. and singing along to the 80ties tunes coming out from Julia’s room to make th task more cheerful!

 After that it was just assembling the petticoats,  adding waistbands ( both  girls chose elesticated waists for ease and comfort), and it was done!  we did overun and the class ended a bit late, but the effect was worth it!


Suzy in her steamopunk petticoat – it will need support in the future, but as a first major sewing project, it was simply amazing:-)


and Jane in hers, here worn on the busgtle cage:-)


both girls at the end of the day:-)

 Altoghether, a very satisfactory and a very productive weekend –  there are more course planned on bespoke basis, so if you wish to have a go, check out the workshop page of Sew Curvy!

Detailed article with insgtructions how to make Bustle cages and petticoat, in both proper Victorian and Steampunk rendition are available on amazon – links  to UK sites below, but they are also available in the US or everywhere else in the world!

 How To Make Flounced Petticoats

How To Make a Bustle Cage


5 thoughts on “Victorian/Steampunk Costuming Course

  1. It was a brilliant Suday workshop and I learned so much! It has made me more confident with my sewing machine, having only used one years ago and had an abject fear of sewing my fingers! (thankfully that didn’t happen) miracles were created and I came home as proud as punch at creating such a gorgeous petticoat. The workshop has inspired me to keep learning and creating! So bustle cage next!

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