Steampunk Accessories DIY & More from Gail Carriger (Miss Carriger Recommends)

They say the devil is in the details, but I say the steampunk is in the details. It’s the little touches to any costume (or any cosplay for that matter) that strike a cord with others. I don’t know about you, but I dress up so that I can meet and mingle with fellow enthusiasts. I want people to ask me why I have teaspoons attached to the neckline of my favorite corset. (My answer: Who doesn’t want spoons on their boobs?)

The best steampunk outfits that I’ve seen employ tiny details and nifty tricks to bring out the personality of the wearer or the character they are portraying. Since I am an author who is awfully fond of tea, most of the details in my outfits hint at writing or the sacred beverage. However, I also nod in the direction of my books and my former profession. That’s part of the fun or steampunk, hinting at persona with apparel.

Here are a few of my very favorite and most useful steampunk accessories…

1. Holster

My parasol holster is made from an old pair of cargo shorts. You can adapt the idea for any oddball accessory you may have from a Nerf modded steampunk gunto a wine bottle or a burrito (I support the idea of packing food at all times).

2. Goggles

Yes goggles and steampunk get a bad rap, but I still love them. I go so far as to mock the persuasiveness of this accessory in my books. (In my final Finishing School book the young ladies of quality wear floating goggles while cutting onions.) However, it doesn’t stop me from being the proud owner of my very own pair. But here’s the thing, they have that little twist that make them me-ish – they have tea trainers for lenses. So useful! They were made by BruteForce Studios, but it’s pretty fun to make your own using found objects that have meaning to you.

3. Fan

Speaking of Brute Force Studios, I love their leather fan. Perhaps not the most practical accessory but one thing I have learned a conventions is, temperatures vary widely. If a girl can arrange her costume to be cool in some rooms and warm in others, it’s never a bad thing. This a fan is always welcome. I love it so much I mailed it to my publisher in the hopes that it might be part of the cover of my latest book. And they used it! They added blades, because my character is a spy meets assassin and thus blades must be part of the equation. However, I’m glad mine is just leather, otherwise I’d never git it through TSA.

4. Pocket Belt

In the grand scheme of useful accessories, this is my most useful. You can buy some beautiful pocket belts around the interwebs, or you can make your ownfrom an old pair of cargo pants (I know more cargo pants, but they really are very good starters for steampunking).

5. Bolt Snaps

Perhaps not so notable in and of themselves but the best solution I have found for clipping all my favorite accessories to my belt or corset are these bronze double ended bolt snaps. You can get these handy little guys in various sizes, styles, and finishes online, from a local hardware store, or from a marine supply shop. I happen to find this particular design the most useful.

6. Magnification Lens

I can’t remember where I picked up this little field lens, but I think it’s adorable. It’s just a bit of a magnifier, and it telescopes closed. I have used it to take a closer look at items in a dealer’s room, but it’s mostly just for show. I really love it because it reminds my of my former life as an archaeologist.

7. Tiny Hat

Because I am so often flying to steampunk events having small hats is key. It is rather difficult to travel with overly large head embellishments in this day and age. Yes, I am aware this particular hat is quite ridiculous. But, hey, it can also be used as a duster! I made it using an old shoulder padand a large feather cluster rescued from some ignominious thrift store fate. The shoulder pad technique is popular in the retro community and I simply repurposed it for steampunk. All your DIYs belong to us!

8. Watch

OK, I admit, I bought this necklace watch just because I thought it was so pretty. These days you can find tons of options in many online stores. I like the necklace option because I can wear it as such or hook it onto the belt and stick it in a pocket instead. I find that at events I always need to know what time it is, and this works a treat.

9. Utensils

Food, my one true passion. I admit to having a bit of an obsession with the lowly spoon. I’m particularly fond of the ones that look like perfect little round bowls stuck on the ends of sticks. I have no logical explanation for this. Anyway, for nearby conventions I have this utensil kit I strap to my belt acquired many years ago at a local Renaissance Faire. (What? You’re surprise?) But for away conventions when the knife would prove a challenge to transport I just pack the little teaspoon on a chain and clip. At first it was just for fun, but you would not believe how useful I’ve found it. I’m contemplating just wearing a spoon on my person at all times. But a girl can get a reputation like that. Not sure what kind of a reputation, but still…

10. Pouch

When I’m not wearing a pocket belt, I need something to carry stuff in (phone, cards, money, tiny squids and other snacks, as you do). I picked up this fab little pouch from Oberon Design at a faire years ago. (What? OK, OK, I worked there.) I added a few steampunk embellishments and an extra D ring or two and with one of those bolt snaps I can clip it to most parts of me.

Wearing All the Things with the lovely John at a local Steampunk event.

{What is Gail’s Book Group reading for January? Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1866-1868  The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Your Infusion of Cute . . .


 Robe à Transformation  Depret, 1867  The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Superstitious Eggs

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
Charles I’s travelling library

Book News:
Chelsey on GoodReads says of Gail’s writing in Waistcoats & Weaponry that, “She has a rare talent in providing her readers with vivid details and new twists but without confusing us with too many new plot lines.”

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Posted by Gail Carriger

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  1. Her Grace, the Duchess of Kneale said:

    I love your accessories. I must expand my collection.

    I loathe carrying a purse around. It's too easy to put it down/lose/get stolen. I've always been a proponent of clipping things to my person.

    Must try the spoon trick. I already have a swiss army knife, a chapstick and small pen on my chatelaine.

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