Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Vest of Infinite Style + Epaulets

Being a steampunk in Texas is sometimes hard.  Especially in summer.  Especially if you are male.  Us womens can get away with revealing corsets and hiked up skirts, but men tend to have much warmer components to their steampunk outfits.

My husband especially had problems because the most impressive parts of his outfits are his coats.  And so he has been known to walk around a crowded con in August wearing a long-sleeve shirt, vest, and a warm coat.  The sacrifices we make to look bad-ass.

So this summer he had a request.  He wanted me to make him a vest that looked super cool all on its own, no coat required.  I took inspiration from a few different places, and this is the result:

I used a vest pattern that worked for him before and just added a few details.  The bars on the front are just interfaced pieces of fabric with a buttonhole on each end.   The epaulets are removable, so this can be worn with a coat if desired.

I'm quite happy with how the epaulets came out.  I've made a pair before, but wasn't totally satisfied with the results.  My previous attempt used plastic yarn canvas, covered with fabric, with fringe sewn around the edge.  The problem was that they were never really stiff enough, and the fringe, since it was machine sewn to the top, tended to lay flat and poke out rather than to fall straight down.

For these epaulets we decided to try a no-fringe shoulder board style.  Instead of plastic canvas, I used buckram, since I had that around from my hat making projects.  I used a double layer of stiff buckram.  My husband wanted the epaulets to have a slight curve to them to fit his shoulder.  So I decided to add wire all around the edge.  This way you can shape and reshape the epaulets like the brim of a hat.  I sewed the wire onto the buckram with a zigzag stitch.  I used 16 gauge wire from the hardware store, I think. To cover the wire and make the edge padded, I glued bias tape down over the edge.  Then I covered it with fabric and glued that down on the underside with hot glue.  I glued a faux suede backer on the underside.

The braid was a leftover bit from another project, and I sewed it on before hot gluing the ends under. (I probably should have done that before putting the suede piece on.   The embroidered bars are a vintage military patch that we picked up at an estate sale, and I satin stitched around it to attach it. Finally, I attached the ribbon and two safety pins to the bottom with hot glue, which I borrowed from this pretty awesome epaulet tutorial.   I'm really happy with how my epaulets came out.  They are really thick and sturdy, but still shape-able from the wire.

And another shot of the vest.


  1. Plus, it's really comfortable and was just right for an August con in Texas.

  2. I've shipped so much steampunk stuff to Texas that one time I asked a customer what was going on down there, lol!