A Victorian-inspired Steampunk Blouse Remodel.

My costuming life has been revolving around red and white these days . . hopefully finishing up “High School Musical” soon so I can move on without guilt!   At some point I will share what I did . . . but I regret it is nothing too inspired.  Anyone can order red & white uniforms and add a little vinyl!

I did manage to fit in a few quick projects last week, so I’m happy to have SOMETHING to write about.  I was browsing one of my local thrift stores and came across this really fun blouse.  It was one of those garments that sort of jumped off the rack and said “Pick me!  Pick me!”.



The original blouse was a black and taupe stripe.  It has an open collar, 3/4 length cuffed sleeves, wide belt loops and a gathered peplum.



I thought that the peplum give it a Victorian/Steampunk feel, and with just a little tweaking, it would make a great costume blouse.

I began by playing with the collar.  At first I thought I would cut the top part off and add some trim to the band.  As I played with the collar, I was inspired to try to reshape it.



Eventually I folded the back down about an inch (to provide some rigidity) and then angled the collar points forward.  I stitched the fold in place and then the collar.  (I did have to release part of the stitching to loosen the  points before I was done.  If I were doing this again, I would stitch the back, but wait to finish the front until I was done with the neck embellishments.).  The top of the collar was designed to lay open and does not completely come together.  I decided that I would fill this gap with a ruffled jabot.

I dug through my stash and found some cream and brown eyelet.  I cut a base shape out of some scrap knit (pulled out of my trash can) and gathered three layers of eyelet on to it.  I used an extra little piece to make a decorative pattern at the top.


The jabot  attaches with snaps.


I later wished I had made it so that the snaps were hidden up under the collar which would add flexibility and allow the blouse to be worn without the jabot.

I loved the eyelet and so I decided to use it to make some sleeve decorations.  I cut the cuff off the sleeve, leaving a seam allowance above the cuff.

the cuff cut off from the sleeve

I gathered a piece of eyelet 1.5x’s the sleeve opening to the top edge (sewing the little slit shut).  I used a piece of black lace to join a second piece of eyelet.  I made sure to line up the scallops.

joining the eyelet with lace

The new cuffs would be smaller since they were going around the wrists and not the lower arm.  Originally, I thought I would use the cuffs in the un-folded length for a nice wide cuff, but that squished the eyelet puff.  I could have added some pleats in the upper arm above the puff to raise it, but, I just opted to fold the cuff in half.  I carefully marked the cuffs with my heat-sensitive pen, and then gathered the lower edge of the eyelet to the cuff.


The cuffs were finished with snaps, and the extra fabric is just hidden inside.


I found a wide black elastic belt with an interesting buckle I thought looked Steampunk-y and I made a tuck to shorten it to fit.

tuck in the elastic

And . . . my blouse upcycle was done.

finished blouse

I think the gathered peplum is a really interesting design feature.    I think it would look really good with a fairly straight skirt, or a pair of breeches.  I liked how the sleeves turned out, and I think the 1.5x’s the length gave a good amount of puff.  I did not put a supportive interlining in these, as the cuff will support them at the wrist.

I ordered the eyelet from Warehouse Craft Supplies.  They sell bulk trim, and the more you order, the cheaper it is.  I ordered a selection of eyelet as I really like to trim petticoats etc with it, and it is one of those luxury details that I think greatly enhances the overall look of costumes.  You may see lots more things decorated with this eyelet, lol!  I was happy with the products that I purchased, but, you do have to order $200 worth of stuff to get the 50% off price break–which for me was what made it affordable, and I figured I could use it up (I use a lot of eyelet for items in my Etsy store), but,  the bulk quantities could be a barrier for an individual garment or a very tight budget.

I’ve been reading some old costuming books, and one suggested adding boning to pre-made bodices to enhance the period look.  I had already completed this project, but the idea intrigues me.

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