Sep 2018

Neo-Victorian Project – A Little Light Tea

   Posted by Atra Materia in Neo-Victorian, Steampunk

(Click to embiggen! Click everything in this post to embiggen!)

Created for and debuted at the 2018 Big River Steampunk Festival.

When I first started attending BRSF, the teas were pretty simple – we all crowded into whatever room was available and debated proper teamaking ultil the Queen arrived. More recently, they’ve been changing it up and playing with themes. This year, rather than another trip to India, we were to set sail on the Titanic* and after hopefully arrivng far more safely, listen to Molly Brown tell her tale.

Socialite, survivor, and advocate for the poorer women aboard. It caught up to her in the end.

We have no icebergs locally, of course – at least, not in the summer! – and since it would be a watery, warm weather event, I decided it called for something a few shades lighter than my regular fare. It didn’t hurt that I’d rediscovered a corset I’d been working on before moving out here (yeah, it had been in the box for a while) that was much closer to being completed than I remembered. Slip in the boning and bind it off, whip up another of my standard skirts, and be good to go once I rounded up a few accessories, right?



And I mean, I’ve never worked on an ensemble where something didn’t go awry, whether it was the world’s most obstinate ruffle or a pink bunny hat flying across the room. But this one, holy hell. Murphy owes me an apology card or twelve.

Normally I only do one costume per event – if I’m sewing at all, and not just recycling – and I’d already finished the black skirt, so a lot of this was just tedious. I’d gotten right up to the end and was on the verge of attaching the ruffled ruffles, and that’s when I stopped for a glass of very-much-needed wine.

Red wine.

Now, I am not stupid enough to sew drunk, but apparently I am stupid enough to drape my almost-finished white skirt in the vicinity of the couch I’m sitting on while drinking, so that when I inevitably tip the glass over…

And that’s how I learned that salt and boiling water will get wine out of a white skirt, as long as it’s a skirt you can soak in salt and boiling water. That’s also how I learned you should check the metal bowl you have the skirt stretched over for rust spots before you start, and that lemon juice will…mostly…get the rust out.

It was a morning. -.- But what’s left of the spots are light and mostly hidden, and once the ruffles are on and it’s over a plumbing-pipe hoopskirt (which I like to dream I’ll post about in detail itself someday), it looks pretty good, yeah?

I’ve never felt more like a cupcake in my life!


The corset was cut at least three years ago and the pattern doesn’t quite fit anymore anyway, but I also screwed up when I was placing the grommets because I was at the weekend house and didn’t have one of my others to use as a guide. Later, I’d realize they had been correct when I measured them out, but because they looked off to my dyscalculiac eye when I was setting them in, I recalculated and now there’s far too much space between the grommets in the middle. Between the missizing and the misspacing, and my hardware-store plastic boning, there’s just not enough stiffness or stability and the whole thing’s bowing out. It’s a shame; I really liked that striped fabric and I’d actually been planning for this to be my around-the-house corset. But…nope. It got me through an afternoon and that’s all I could ask of it, and even if I got another yard or two of ticking, I’m not sure I ever want to sew a corset myself again.

I do eventually want to find something else to go with the base dress, though, because ugh look at that fabulous disaster. I probably should not have worn the hoops to tea, because even though we were in a larger venue this year, it was still crowded and I had to take a seat in the back where they wouldn’t creep into the aisles, and once I’d squeezed in and sat down, I couldn’t get up again and had to ask the other lovely ladies and gentlemen at my table to assist me when the kettles came around (but at least no one seemed to mind).

Most of these pictures, however, were taken well after we’d disembarked, though without straying far from that watery vein – I’m up at the Mark Twain Lighthouse, which stands on a hill overlooking the river but (as far as I understand) has only ever been there for the tourists and never served as warning for the ships passing by. While I did go to tea with my hair down (scandalous!) and my explorer’s gear at the ready (because you never know when adventure will call), I wanted to do something different and more elegant for the shoot. There are exacty two clips in my hair, and they’re about as stable as the back of that corset – I don’t know they made it through the whole thing. The hat and parasol both came from Goodwill as they are, the fan’s another from Dollar Tree (who have stocked me with one for every outfit and then some), and the cameo was picked up at the same little curio shop as the pocketwatch you haven’t seen yet, but it’s nowhere near antique (it’s actually an Avon perfume brooch that I modded onto another choker). The shirt, like so many others, is out of my closet, but…

…it’s these gloves I might love the most. They are very definitely vintage, probably from the sixties or so, and were given to me by my riding instructor back at Dixie, who wore them when she was a girl. So you will pry them off my cold undead hands before you get them away from me. >.>

There are a few more photos in the gallery, though they’re fairly similar to what’s here already.

And that’s it for this year! (Unless I do that post about my underthings [scandalous].) I already have plans for next time that involve me not sewing a goddamn thing, but… Well, I’ve said that before. >.>

* We were not, in fact, on a boat. That’s the Time-Traveller’s Ball. But I won’t tell if you won’t?

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