Mixed-Media Jewelry: Make a Steampunk Cuff

My daughters and some friends recently attended a concert featuring Steampunk violinist Emilie Autumn and her band The Bloody Crumpets. Of course my girls had to dress up for the big event, with corsets, lacy skirts, fingerless gloves, and so on. I only wish they'd had time to make some Steampunk jewelry and accessories. I would have been glad to help them create a top hat out of a teacup.

steampunk design
Steampunk-design cuff by Teresa Stanton.

As it was, they looked the part and had a blast. But in preparation for their next foray into Steampunk style, I'm going to make an art cuff a la Teresa Stanton. Her Steampunk design for fashion art is easy to put together from fabric and found objects.

Teresa takes an organic approach to putting these cuffs together, arranging fabric, lace, and metal embellishments on a base of fabric or leather without a pattern or a lot of planning. The only rule is to choose a backing material that will feel comfortable against the skin.

Here are the basic steps, adapted from her article in Cloth Paper Scissors July/August 2011 issue.

1. Cut a backing panel approximately 10" long and 4" wide from a comfortable, medium-weight textile and 5 pieces of fabrics with contrasting textures weights approximately 10" long and 2"-4" wide. Place the backing panel on your work surface and play with the placement of the decorative textiles until you get the combination you like.

mixed media jewelry cuff
Pin the layers in place, then stitch
down the center.

2. Carefully remove the backing panel and set it aside. Pin the top fabrics together down the center of the length of the layers and machine stitch along the horizontal center of the cuff, removing pins as you go. Wrap the cuff around your wrist to see if more stitching is needed to secure the overlays.

3. Size your cuff. Attach 2 pieces of painter's tape on the right edge of the cuff layers. Flip the cuff over and lay your wrist, palm-side up, on the center of the cuff. Wrap the right end of the cuff, with the painter's tape on it, to the back side of your wrist, pressing the tape to your wrist to hold it in place. Bring the left side of the cuff over the back of your wrist, adjusting for a comfortable fit, and mark the location of the overlap with a long pin (such as a corsage pin).  Remove the cuff from your wrist.

4. Lay the cuff right-side up on the work surface and measure the distance from the pin marking the overlap to the opposide end of the cuff. This is the cuff body measurement. Add 2" to this measurement to get the full cuff length measurement.

5. Center the focal piece (metal embellishments, found objects, old jewelry parts, etc.) on top of the cuff and mark the placement with a pin. Using this as the center point of the cuff, cut away and discard and excess fabric from the layers and cut the backing piece to size.

closure for steampunk jewelry cuff
The elastic closure.

6. Attach the focal piece by stitching, gluing, or whatever's appropriate to the material.

7. Use an elastic ponytail band and a button as the closure. Cut a piece of leather or fabric 1½" x 3"and fold it in half over the elastic band. Stitch the folding piece securely to the cuff.

8. Attach the backing panel by placing it on the back of the layered piece and stitching together both ends and horizontally across the middle, hand stitching beneath and around the focal point.

9. Wrap the cuff around your wrist to determine the button placement while modestly stretching the elastic band. Sew the button in place.

I love the one-of-a-kind nature of these wearable art cuffs and the leather-and-lace hard/soft texture. It also gives me a new way to use many of my found objects and bits of fabric goodies, like many other projects from 2011's issues of Cloth Paper Scissors. They're now together all together in the 2011 Cloth Paper Scissors CD collection, available now as download, too. What a space saver! (More room in my studio for fabric and found objects.)

P.S. What do you think of Steampunk style? Love it? Don't get it? Tell me about it in the comments section below.


Art to Wear, Blog, Mixed-Media Jewelry


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.