Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Prototype: The Steampunk Buckle Dress

Back in April, the Mercenary posted a poll asking readers which of her steampunk designs should be put into prototype. The Steampunk Buckle Dress won by an overwhelming margin (though the Designer is still suspicious that it's because it was the only dress displayed above the cut) and so it was that it came to gain physical existence.

The Steampunk Buckle Dress is made of a burgundy silk velvet. The high-collared underdress is made from black lace and fastens with a long zip down the back. It's lined in black faux silk, with exception of the sleeves. The straps on the dress are made of a black faux suede. The velvet buckle dress has lacing down the back and is in that way adjustable. It is very low-waisted, with the lace detail sitting quite low on the hips. I believe the intention was to create a long, elegant line, but success is debatable.

We used the same square brass buckles as in the Steampunk Coat and the small rose-shaped buttons of the Red Rose Coat. We used the large eyelets that act as trim for the Steampunk Coat, which was something of a mistake as it makes the velvet straps even more unwieldy to do up.

To commission a similar outfit from the Mercenary would cost in the region of £170. However, if you wish to buy this particular prototype (including underdress) as seen in the photos (The Shadow is quite squarely a UK size 10, though do email the Mercenary for exact measurements of the garment), it would cost £140.

This set of pictures was among the last we did that day and I rather do think it shows in the quality as the beating sun took its toll on us. My hands were getting rather more shaky and The Shadow caught several extended fits of giggling.

And the sword is, as frequently is the case, from Character Kit.

More photos under the cut.


  1. this is absolutely gorgeous!!! the only things I can think of that would improve it would be to fix the fit of the sleeves (they look like they are pulling a bit at the bust and I think they would look nicer if they were skintight like the sketch) and to move the waistline up (maybe eliminate the bottom three buttons). I can't even imagine how much work went into this. I wish I could sew that well!

  2. I would maybe move the waistline one button up, and I feel like it could use more structure somehow, maybe a stiffer fabric underneath, or tighter, or something, to improve the shape. It's pretty but looks a little sloppy somehow. Like it would look more polished over a corset and hoop or stiff underskirt.

  3. There might be a little too many details while there isn't enough colour to display it, making it come over as slightly messy. Also, the dress might be more elegant if the waistline was moved up and waist details were made to look like details on the skirt.

    It would probably gain a lot of drama if a petticoat was worn under it, actually, a hoopskirt might do it the most justice. In that case, the hoop(s) would have to be fairly low in the skirt, giving it the effect seen in the design picture.

    It might also gain if it were displayed in a different environment. After all, bright and sunlit doesn't usually flatter a dress made in black and dark red.

    I hope this helps. I'm by no means a very experienced seamstress but I've seen a lot of costumes and these are just my thoughts. Please don't feel offended.

  4. I know it's forever after the event of the comment, but just to say thank you for all the feedback. The next incarnation will hopefully be better.

  5. I absolutely love the lower waistline! I really hope you don't change it in response to the comments made here to be honest. The colour is as ginnyvos says is quite dark but that only makes the detail subtle, and makes what could be too much in terms of complexity and detail just right, not so overstated that it detracts from the combative style of the dress. I would agree that an under-skirt would give the lower sections more attention, make the fun draw straps at the front more apparent and generally make the shape more full! With the fuller underskirt, the lower waistline will look amazing!

    I hope if someone were to buy this (ie: if I get up enough money) and request the lower waistline remains on their commission, you would be happy to keep this as it is?

    I'm only just starting to learn about dress-making and really adore your designs, thank you for all the inspiration you have provided to try my hardest to teach myself.

  6. Thank you, though we've yet to sell the original or had any whiff of commissions for this particular design, so who knows what will be asked of it then or what sort of revisions will take place. The same dye lot of silk velvet will almost certainly not be available any more so it will be different for that reason if nothing else.


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