My husband wanted a Steampunk costume for Halloween this year. He even found one in a catalog for under $100 and was going to place an order. After a quick look at the catalog I decided that the costume my husband has found was unacceptable. After all, I regard Steampunk as a form of art, and the *thing* from the catalog was a very bad caricature.
I offered my husband to purchase some quality accessories for him from Etsy for his costume. Well, quality comes with a price tag, especially when it applies to hand-tooled brass and leather… When my husband saw these prices he refused. Instead, he challenged me to make him a costume for $100 that would in my (and his) opinion be better than the one from the catalog. That was a very interesting challenge, so I accepted.
I decided that the focal point of my creation had to be the hat. So I purchased a black felt top hat of decent quality from a Halloween store for $27. Steampunk head gear is all about goggles, and I was fortunate enough to get a pair of plastic ones complete with jeweler's lenses for $22.88 (free shipping) off eBay.
With half of my budget gone, I had to get creative. I needed cogs, gears and gages, preferably all or at least some of the above… In my junk drawer of yard sale finds I found a small brooch with clock faces and hands, but it was small, so I needed more embellishments. I found a fridge magnet in a form of an X-ray gage for $2.25 ($0.65 shipping) and a pack of 20 DIY 14mm black metal bullet spike studs for $3.19 (free shipping) on eBay. These and some hot glue got me a decent Steampunk hat ensemble for $55.97 total.
I went to the fabric store but was not happy with what I found. Then I shopped for lace on the internet but also was dissatisfied. I proceeded to look for old lace shirts, skirts, and baby dresses to cut up, and finally I purchased a brand new in package 16 x 47 inches table runner in what appeared to be stiff acrylic lace and cost $3.50 ($4 shipping).
The table runner turned out to be exactly what I needed. I cut it in half lengthwise and in about an hour of needle work I had a jabot and a pair of cuffs on elastic. I used elastic with button holes and a button for closure on the jabot so the width could be adjusted and that proved to be a genius move when my son declared he wanted to wear it too.
I decided to dress up the jabot and purchased a pin in a shape of a bee encrusted with sapphires and a huge grey pearl (authentic, no doubt) for a whooping $2.37 ($0.99 shipping). So far I have spent $66.83, so there was room in my budget to get something else. Definitely not enough for a fancy jacket, but perhaps, enough for vest. I turned to eBay again and got a wonderful full back tuxedo vest for $12.99 (free shipping).
I asked my husband to dress in his black pants and a white shirt and then added all the Steampunk accessories I have come up with. He admitted that my version of a Steampunk costume beat the catalog one hands down! The real surprise for him was the price tag - $79.82. I suggested he could get himself a cigar with the remaining $20, would not be the best one, but quite decent, just like the costume I've just scraped up ;)