One way to add some flair to a hat or jacket lapel is with a cockade pin. A cockade is "a rosette or knot of ribbons worn in a hat as a badge of office or party, or as part of a livery", google informs me. It's what all the rebels in Les Mis are wearing. So, yes, for story purposes it can be a sign of affiliation with a party or group. (I've suddenly had the horrifying thought of steampunk political parties and now I want to forget that idea.)
But they can just be decorative for our purposes. You can make them from ribbon or fabric scraps, although I've found ribbon is easier and gives a neater look. Making these is not too difficult, as you are mostly just pleating the ribbon in a circle and hand-stitching your pleats in place. If you're a perfectionist it's a little more tricky to get all your pleats equal. Luckily, I'm not.
|I made this one from the Idle Hands|
I've made a few of these. My most recent ones were inspired by the tutorial on making a Hat Cockade in the book Steampunk Accessories by Nicola Tedman and Sarah Skeate.
But there are a bunch of online tutorials, too. American Duchess has a nice one for those a bit more OCD than me. Idle Hands has a detailed tutorial to make a really stunning and more elaborate cockade. Here's another tutorial, and one using bits of cut ribbon.
Whichever tutorial you use, it's easy to add some steam to these by adding clock parts or other steamy objects to the center. I also added various feathers to some of them. For the pin on the back, I just used a giant safety pin because I wanted something that was strong enough and large enough to pin to a hat and be changed out as desired. So I used ribbon and hot glue to attach pins to the back.
With different types of materials and multiple layers you can really customize these a lot. I need to get some more ribbon to keep working on these. Although I'd like to find a cool way to reuse fabric scraps and have it look nice.
Have any of you made cockades or worn them on your outfits?