steampunk leather mermaid ensemble

Process blog for a look that will ultimately include a tricorn hat, cropped jacket, demibust corset, skirt, and spats, all with highly customized personal embellishments and techniques. Shall we begin?

At FIT, while enrolled in the Leather Apparel program, we were gifted several hides. I received a large teal snakeskin-stamped calfskin which immediately made me think of a mermaid. No wait, a leather mermaid? A steampunk mermaid! So this was my first thumbnail sketch of the look. I started to explore the materials, shop for hardware and do some research on graphic elements. I also found a friend who was willing to play patient client/fit model while I noodled this along. Mockups started to come together, and soon I was ready to cut and assemble the corset. The coutil is dyed to match the ensemble.

Meanwhile I realized I did not have enough of any one leather hide to make a skirt. IDEA: I cut out a million little circles out of every leather used in the look, and fused them together to create a fishscale material. Later I discovered that this was a popular technique in the late 60s and early 70s, I swear I had no idea. As I stitched down all the circles, at first I was dismayed at the rustic effect but as it came together I got really excited about it. The skirt really came together with piping and a lambskin ruffle detail. It also features a two way fancy zipper in antique gold finish. I do want to add elastic to the back of the skirt so it’s more comfortable to wear – the materials is rather stiff after so much sewing and fusing.

The corset also needed more love. How about a metallic copper lambskin kraken appliqué? Sure, why not? Obviously a steampunk corset demands swing clasps on the busk! And of course, no mermaid pirate would set out without a fetching, deadly little musket. Every pirate needs a tricorn hat! This one has teal ostrich plumes and a digitally cut leather cockade with a stunning Swarovski element at the center. Still in progress: spats and a very fun cropped jacket. I got sidelined from this ensemble for too long by kids and a cross country move, but I’m trying to clear my plate so I can finally finish it up.