When I selected Samantha R. Crossland’s book ‘Steampunk & Cosplay: Fashion Design & Illustration’, sub-titled ‘Fashion Design & Illustration: More Than 50 Ideas For Learning To Design Your Own Neo-Victorian Costume And Accessories’, it was for its primary use. Namely, if you want to dress in Steampunk attire and make your own clothes, this is a marvellous starting point. You get briefed in how to draw and design and then a fabulous section giving you a glossary of fashion terms with pictures and fabric details in a similar way. It then dawned on me that this section alone should be required reading for those beyond cos play. I mean, if you’re describing someone’s clothes and fabrics writing a Steampunk novel then this is a handy guide to have on your table to give the impression that you know the subject. If you’re just an artist, seeing all of this under one cover can help guide how you draw and paint things, especially how to create the textures. I think I learnt more from this than anything. Knowing the language of fashion and fabric also applies in current reality as well because instead of finding it hard to describe what you are after, you can use the exact terms.
I should point out that Steampunk isn’t the only area covered. Crossland also looks at Clockpunk, Dieselpunk, Decopunk and Atompunk. Three of them are kind of new to me but more from the aspect of not being used in fiction but to show the freedom of invention. Crossland doesn’t throw out a load of designs for you to follow but gives the information to follow your own ideas. Considering the range of -punk choices for both sexes, that’s hardly surprising. She uses the essence of what you need to ponder on to develop the look you need. Considering the areas that she covers, it would be impossible to put everything in.
Most of the clothes is women-centric, with only a few male costumes shown. Seeing a few models showing the final product is useful. Something I wish Crossland had covered was in cutting the fabric shapes and that really should be explored to help beginners get started as you really do need to know how much give and take is needed for things like sleeves and leggings. The most I’ve ever done in this direction was make costumes for my Action Men when young but it’s not quite the same doing the same for humans. I really hope Crossland does a sequel covering this, not to mention using the sewing machine or hand sewing although I’m sure there are other books out there on the subject of more exotic cuts. Getting the fabric to turn corners in an old Singer sewing machine was an interesting experiment a couple years back and I’d love to know how to do it properly.
Even so, this really is a fabulous book and, in some respects, it might be a short read, the knowledge it imparts vastly exceeds the number of pages and get you started in the cos play window. Cue the floodlights.
(pub: Walter Foster Publishing/Quarto. 127 page illustrated very large softcover. Price: £12.99 (UK), $19.95 (US), $24.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-60058-498-5)