Friday, January 11, 2013

Book Review: Steampunk Your Wardrobe

First things first, I have to apologize for my lack of posting on this blog in recent weeks.  Prior to the holidays I was furiously working on my Steampunk Cleopatra costume.  I hit a few setbacks with it, but continued to make progress, but it hasn't been the kind of progress that warranted a post.  Then there were the holidays and now I am in Hawaii visiting my mom and brother for a late holiday/vacation.  So my crafting and steampunk projects are on hold.

However, I have gotten some new steampunk resources, mostly as Christmas gifts.

Steampunk Your Wardrobe: Easy Projects to Add Victorian Flair to Everyday Fashions is one of these.  I have an addiction to craft books.  I own a ridiculous number of knitting books, despite the fact that I can get almost any pattern I want online.  Steampunk DIY books are harder to come by, but no easier for me to resist.   I've previously discussed Thomas Willeford's book Steampunk Gear, Gadgets, and Gizmos, which is excellent. But that book is focused on metal, wood, and leather projects for people comfortable using serious tools and such.  I thought a book about making steampunk clothing would be a good resource.

This book is aimed at the extreme sewing novice.  Most of the projects are ways to refashion pre-made clothing into something more steampunk.  The instructions seem to be complete, with pretty clear photos. 

But honestly I'm very disappointed in the book.  There is very little (if anything) here that is difficult to either figure out on your own or find a tutorial for online.  For an example of a typical project, let's take the lace edged pantaloons.  Take a pair of slacks, cut them short, sew lace to the bottom and maybe some ribbon too!  Now, there's nothing wrong with doing that, but it's not exactly something so complicated you need a book to help you with it step-by-step.  Another project involves taking a purchased skirt and adding a couple of hooks to it so you can pull one side of it up.

Pretty much all of the projects are things that I would love to see as tutorials on a blog, but which don't really justify the purchase price of the book.  Moreover the quality of the photos are really on the low-end of blog quality.  (I don't take the best photos for this blog, I know that.  These are pretty equivalent.)

There are only a couple of non-clothing projects: a necklace using basic jewelry making skills and a flask covered with scrapbooking paper and paper clock faces.  The latter looks...pretty junky.  Why would you cover a metal flask with paper?

There are a couple of nice and potentially worthwhile projects in the book: a ruffled shoulder wrap (on the cover) and instructions to refashion a normal button-up shirt into a Victorian styled blouse. 

The long and the short of it is that I would only recommend this book to someone just starting to sew who wants some simple steampunk projects on the cheap.  There are also no projects for men, fyi. 


  1. Yes, I was interested in this book a while back Luckily I managed to get a bit of a preview with that Amazon Look Inside function and notice a lot of it was just adaptations. I decided not to get it, because, as you said, a lot of it is pretty simple, like finding a nice pair of pants to turn into bloomers, and then, even if I had the book, I would still have to find pants to do that with, ditto the skirt. I prefer things that tell me how to start from scratch so I can just get the material. I suppose it might be good for some people, especially beginners, but not my cup of tea. Interesting to see someone else has the same opinions.

  2. Oh and your tutorials are fantastic! I can see myself using some of them in the future!

  3. Thanks, having your opinion is a great help. This goes off my list, but Thomas Willeford's book goes on. And I'm so curious to see your progress on Cleopatra!

  4. I'm getting this as an addition to the library's costume making section. Many of our patrons do not have access to a PC & printer except here at the library, so trolling blogs is not an option for them. Also most of the library patrons who would be interested in this title are teens who have never held a sewing needle.
    Boringlibrarian in Waco