It kind of happened slowly. Usually I am struck hard with an idea down to the details, and have a clear picture in my mind of what I trying to create as soon as I have a piece of fabric in my hands, or see a pattern that pleases me. I can picture in my mind the cut of the dress, how I want it to drape when I walk, how it will flatter my curves. Sometimes just holding a piece of fabric can make me feel as beautiful as I will feel when the costume is finished, because I can see exactly how it look. But not so with this dress! Though I can see it all now, it took a while to really feel it.
I picked this pattern up nearly a year ago, with the idea that I had never seen a steam punk dress that was reminiscent of victoriana before all the bustle periods. Joann's was having a pattern sale, so I picked it up and put it away, figuring I had a few more projects before I could even think about starting something so ambitious. I started a steampunk cowgirl dress, a cute victorian bustle coat (a coat that can go OVER a bustle, not one that HAS a bustle), a pretty, reversible bustier, several lehengas, and a medieval bliaut before I started to think about the ballgown again. I knew I wanted to steampunk it, but I just couldn't figure out exactly how.
Sometime in the past couple months, I decided 2012 would be the year of steampunk for me. I would finish the cowgirl dress. I would make a skirt that would go with the bustier. I'd take another look at the ballgown. I pulled the pattern out again. The more I looked at it, the more the movie Young Victoria came to my mind. The dress began to take on Victoria's personality for me. I have seen a few steampunk costumes based off of real life Victorians, and I began to wonder if anyone had attempted the woman who GAVE HER NAME to the period. I consulted Google, my favorite adviser, and found... Well, I found a good deal of art. One costume claiming to be a steampunked Victoria, but was in a late Victorian bustle style I have NEVER seen a picture of or heard of the Queen actually wearing (Late period was waaay after Albert had died; she wore mourning and nothing that was extremely fashionable as her children were wont to do). There were several pictures of steampunk things NOT related to Victoria, and several regular pictures of the Queen herself.
I realized I had discovered a theme. So far as I can find, very few people have costumed as the Queen. I could make this dress IT. Pictures began forming in my head. Colors, trim, undergarments... I went to Etsy to find material inspirations and came up with several new ideas. I already had a great pattern for underthings:
And I decided I would make the petticoats and chemise out of up-cycled sarees. I wanted the costume to be colorful! There isn't enough color in Steampunk. I am also a bit of a nut for historical accuracy, I want this piece to fit the period and the character, but also have some of the fun that steampunk can add to such things.
I finally have a picture in my head. I don't have the fabric yet, but I can look at the pattern, and imagine how the bodice will fit. How the skirt will move when I walk. How I'll fit my hair and what jewelry I'll wear. I can look at the pattern and imagine myself in the dress. Time to start making it reality.