Steampunk Black Cat
I realize fully part of what made these Steampunk boots exceptional is the foundational boots with their clever heel. I have had these boots for years and bought them on sale and only worn them once because generally speaking ankle boots are not very flattering but the heels were so fun that I knew one day they’d be perfect for some outfit. I was right.
Before I begin, I want to say that I do an enormous amount of google image searches on the piece I am designing. For instance, I probably had at least 50 different tabs of steampunk spats open and ended up with a sort of amalgam of a few that appealed to me. The same with the goggles, mask, skirt/bustle, well you get the idea… lots of pre-planning which of course, for me, never ends up exactly like that because I end up working with however something turns out.
Step One : Mask off what areas you want painted
Sometimes it seems the hardest part is just jumping into your project. I kinda have the philosophy if I mess something up, I will somehow make it work anyway.
It may not be the most professional way to look at it, but it has worked thus far for many years through many kinds of projects.
Step Two: Starting with the base for the “spats”
I found some pinstripe fabric at the wholesale store but tbh, was not 100% happy with it. The weight of it was great though and there was nothing else better. In the end, I liked it even better than the stronger black and white stripes I originally sought. The visually textured stripes gave the black stripes an aged look.
I did not have a pattern. I just paid my boot down on its side. I then traced on tissue paper with a felt tip pen, the shape of the boot allowing for seams and folded it in half to make two sides.
I sewed the sides together and this is IMPORTANT: ironed the seam down. It sounds like a silly step that you can skip (and trust me I like doing that as you can see from my tutorials- BUT do NOT skip this!) The fabric lies so much easier and smoother if ironed.
Still, the striped fabric did not lay completely flat all around the sides because, I didn’t use a pattern that would accommodate for that. So I cut the excess and thus started the phases of improvisation.
You can also see the pirate type skull grain at the top edge of the boot that I covered up here.
So back to improv. Although I didn’t use a pattern and tend to eyeball my measurements, I did make sure that the sides were basically the same on each side by squeezing the top center of the striping and cutting each side evenly.
I also made sure that I cut them in a way that only flat pieces (spats) could easily be fastened to each side of the stripes.
I also found myself using a ton of pins to hold things in place with this project. Get a lot and have them handy.
I decided to make the boots have a sort of spats look since the top pinstriping did not come down the sides as long as I wanted them to. Also, these spats would be able to lay flat since they’d be on each side of the boot.
I saw some spats online that had a curvy look to the front of them and thought that it would look cool if the eyelets were put in the outer curves. I tried making a pattern by measuring out the curves but I am horrible with exactitude so I eyeballed it and they came out better.
Be sure to make a line outside of where you want them to end up being so you can have a seam allowance!
I was also pretty excited about using this black and white brocade until I put it on the boot with those faded pinstripes. I ended up using the same brocade but in grey(silver) and black instead so it was not so harsh. I think the silver in the boracde and the heel was bright enough to give the black cat white fur homage steampunk style.
I drew right onto the backside of the brocade because the fabric with a fabric pen.
You can see that I made hem allowances. What you may not know if you are brand spanking new to sewing is that curves need notches cut to lay flat. In short, if there is an inner concave curve, cut little carrot shapes into the curve and then take the peak of fabric left over and bend it back flat.
There were SO many curves on this part of the project that I used fabric glue and pinned them down until they dried before I sewed them because it was too crazy to try to hold them in place while sewing.
The straight parts clearly didn’t need as many pins as all those curves, but I left pins in everywhere that the fabric seemed to want to buckle up or not lay flat.
To be honest, I am not positive if it would hurt the machine or not to sew while the glue is tacky, but I try to respect my machine and give it every consideration I can since I am a noob.
It would have been cool to have sewn the spats to the striped part before putting it on the boot instead of glueing it… but that would have meant that I knew what I was doing before I did it OR had a pattern. Neither is true.
After I attached the silver and black brocade, It seemed a bit undistinguished so I added a thin black ribbon to line the spats… in this case the E6000 did not work nearly as well as Fabric Stitch. Perhaps because both sides were fabric, as well as the ribbon being so thin. In any case, I pinned it into place and let the glue dry thoroughly.
I already had these unusual grommets. I remember buying them on sale one time not knowing when or where I would use them but their look lent well to the steampunk style I was going for with this Black Cat outfit so I had a mini “jackpot!” feeling. Although I admit I wish I had a room dedicated to just craft supply storage, I also admit to loving having cool pieces handy when I want them.
Step Nine: Coulda Woulda Shoulda eyelets
If I had thought of the spats beforehand or skilled enough in making sure they ended up the correct size and in the correct place on my boots, I would have actually punched the grommets/eyelets into the spats.
Instead, I just flattened the grommets with the grommet tool, laced in a ribbon and glued them into place.
Turns out, one came loose during the convention so later on I ended up sewing each one onto the spats when I had more time.
I even sewed the bow at the top of the lace up so it wouldn’t come undone during the day. I suggest if you have time, tacking everything down to minimize wardrobe malfunctions on con days.
Step Ten: Covering the edges
I took two decorative straps off an old belt and they fit perfectly! I put cogs, decorations, and rings in through the already made holes so it was super easy and quick.
The straps just happened to be the perfect length, ending right where the straps ended so I didn’t even have to alter the length.
Ironically to cover up the skull printed top of the boots, I turned for inspiration to a set of cuffs I have added to boots to look like a pirate!
By taking one long piece of fabric doubled over (use pinking sheers if you don’t have a serger). Pinking sheers are scissors that cut jig jag which helps deter fraying.
Sew one edge to the other, making sure the cuffs are wide enough to flip over, placing the rough, unfinished edge inside the boot and the rest flaps over the boot edge top.
The set on the right was not meant to be permanent. If you ever want to make some cuffs that can be used on multiple boots, just put a grommet on each side and put a ribbon through the holes and voila!
I found some old earrings to embellish before putting them on my boots. I was sure to tack them down with wire, thread, and glue. I was absolutely sure that despite the long dangling chains with charms would stay perfect throughout the con because I was so cautious about making the attachment very strong…
what I had not counted on was how the old glue of the old earrings might not be able to withstand the pounding on the pavement all day.
The pic on the right shows the faulty, yellowed glue on the base of the old earring that held some of the elements like the dangling chains. Somehow I recovered almost all the pieces and wired together all the tiny components to a piece of leather I cut out in the shape of a cog.
Word to the wise! Do not try to spray paint raw leather. It just comes off on your fingers. I did notice after the first time I painted one of the leather cogs that had black leather dye on it that the spray paint adhered to that portion… so I had to rub off the initial layer of silver, put dye on them. The silver shown through and gave it a weathered cog look which was exceptional! Once again, the accident in a project becomes an advantage.
I almost forgot… I am not totally convinced that the small nuts make it over the top (then again maybe the entire boot is already?) but I quite enjoy the look of the Brogue feature in mens shoes. I thought a line of nuts would resemble that sort of look.
The picture to the right was taken on my way out the door from Akon. It shows the wear they endured but also is the best shot I have handy to show the Brogue-ish feature I was attempting.
And now, for a video on the final look at them completed.
To take a look at the initial How-To article with links to the other pieces as they are completed, just click here! http://cplus2magazine.com/steampunk-black-cat-how-to/ Best to you and please share your cosplays below and on our Twitter and FaceBook CharismaPlus2 page!