Essentials in Invermere

Both quilting supplies and clothing

Earlier in July I was in Invermere, BC on a bit of a mini-long-weekend-holiday, and while my traveling companion was sleeping in, I popped into a little shop (the only fabric shop by the looks of things) called Essentials (which, conveniently was just around the corner from our hotel… though I did get led off-course by a library used book sale….).

Wow, that was a run-on sentence if I ever wrote one!

In this small town, Essentials plays two rolls – quilt/sewing/knitting store on one side, and clothing/department store on the other.  You can see from the photo above – if you turn one way into the store you get bolts of fabric and racks of notions, but if you turn the other direction you have dresses and sunhats.  It made it a bit strange for me, but likely it’s a necessity in a small town – it’s unlikely that there would be enough quilting business to keep a store of this size around in the long term if that were it’s only business.

(As an aside, they did have a space for lease sign up outside, and I overheard the managers (?) chatting about a new location, so who knows what it will look like in a few months!)

Cottons in Essentials

The quilting section was quite nice, with several shelves of fabric, and one shelf of nothing but fabric on sale – woohoo!  I didn’t find any Asian prints (one of the first things I look for) but lots of bright prints and children’s prints.  It must be interesting to ‘curate’ a store like this – trying to appeal to a wide enough market without stocking things that just won’t sell.  There was also a nice selection of cuddly fabrics for backings and flannelet fabrics too.

Such pretty yarn!

I was also on the look out for wool roving – but they didn’t carry it.  In fact, the wool/knitting section was quite small – there were a few things that were pretty, but nothing that appealed to me.

More pretty yarn!

I also took the below picture to remind me of something similar to what I want to make with some of the fabric that I got there…. which, once I actually can get the chance to sew – I might share on the blog later!

Similar to a tote I'd like to make

So.. the fabric itself – this gorgeous corset/dressmaking print cotton…

Corset & dressmaking print fabric I bought

I took the above photo in-store, so it’s not great….

Fabrics from Essentials

I also picked up some pretty tan and pink striped fabric, and two batiks from the sale table.

Now just to find the time/location/laundry/etc… etc.. etc… to make something up.  I really need to STOP buying fabric!

You can find Essentials (until they move!) at:

729 12th St
Invermere, BC V0A 1K0

(250) 342-9313

Steampunk Stripes

Photo from Steampunk Couture's Spring 2011 line

One of the fabrics I’ve been looking for has been a brown and black stripe, not unlike some of the striped fabrics that Steampunk Couture uses off and on. It has eluded me for a long time, but I finally found something!  It isn’t as wide of a stripe, but I think it will be good; a nice way of having both blacks and browns in one outfit – I usually wouldn’t use both in one.

The fabric I found is a wide brown stripe with a narrow black stripe (I was looking for something even, but I don’t mind this at all) but on either side of the black stripe is a single thread of black metallic.  The fabric is very light weight (about the weight of cotton broadcloth), so it certainly won’t work for pants – but I’m thinking that it would work nicely for a pair of bloomers not unlike the white ones on the left in the picture below, or the top of the skirt on the right. (From a previous post.)

Paper dolls

Here’s a photo of the fabric itself – it’s not a great photo I’m afraid.

Black and brown pinstripes with a quarter for scale.

While I was up in Edmonton not too long ago I also picked up a few other striped fabrics with the intentions of doing something neo-Victorian/Steampunk with them.

Pink and black striped taffeta from Marshall's and brown/tan/blue striped cotton from a quilting shop

At Marshall’s I picked up a pink and black striped taffeta that was super-cheap (one of the few really good deals that I got there).  I think I picked up something like 9 meters of it, so I can pretty much do whatever I choose…  At a quilting shop I picked up the bottom fabric – a brown, tan, cream, and blue stripe in cotton.  I didn’t get as much of this because it was a lot more money.

The house renos are still going on, which is frustrating, because it means even when I do have time to get creative (which is rare) I don’t have the room to do it in, or the access to all of my supplies.  I still don’t even have laundry (almost a week without it!).  I know I should just go with the flow, but I’m getting frustrated.

Quilting – rainbow stripes

Original image from

I love this mini-quilt from PurlBee, a simple stripe with the gradation of colours from red to blue.  I love the brightness, and how crisp the colours are against the white background.  I also just love how simple it is – simple, clean, and one would think, quick an easy to make.    It makes me want to make a similar variation myself – but with colours more my style (and more useable – I can only imagine trying to keep those crisp colours and white background with washing).

So, with Photoshop, I created a variation:

A blue variation

The first variation is with shades of blue – I like the idea of a gradient, and all of these fabrics would be left over from some of my other quilting projects – which I think would be a great way to use some of those fabric leftovers.

Mauve and grey variation

I have been thinking a lot about mauve and grey lately, and thought about a mauve and grey variation too.  I tried this with a lighter grey and didn’t like it as much… but with this slightly mauve darker grey, I kind of like this too.

Warm colours on black variation

I bought a new comforter a while back in shades of bronze, gold, and reds – and I thought that something to coordinate would be good.  I don’t know if I love these colours on black though.

Warm colours on dark red variation

Maybe on dark red instead?

Warm colours on medium variation with contrast highlight

Or maybe on a lighter red, but then highlighting each panel with a lighter colour?  (Here I used white, but I imagine more of a gold…)

Of course, with all but the black and blue, I’d need  to do some shopping for the fabrics!

Hmmm once I get my sewing area back from Reno Hell part 2, I might have to think about doing up something!

Steampunk Costume inspiration: ‘paper’ dolls

Even as a child I never really played with paper dolls – I had lots of real dolls with lots of clothes for them, and I would make up my own little clothes for them as well (with varying levels of taste). However, the other day I was wandering on the internet and found a digital paper doll website – and there were a number of Steampunk dolls too!  I was excited to see how different things might work together, and so made up a few of the different dolls.

The first doll, just playing around

I started just playing around to see what the game would do – this game is called Victorian Butterfly, and it’s rather cute!

The second doll, when I started thinking about using it as an inspiration tool

Next up I actually thought about plugging in something I would actually make. Oddly enough, it’s not too far off from the first one! I tried different variations (with pants and other things) and still kept coming back to this kind of look.  I thought that the skirt (without the apron-thing) would be more flattering, though the leg-o-mutton sleeves aren’t really my thing.

The third doll - less transformable, but neat ideas

Then there was another game, called Clockwork Couture (isn’t there a clothing name called that?). (p.s. yeppers there is!)  You can also play this on Deviant Art if you’re so inclined – I had hoped that maybe there would be more items, but nope.  If you don’t want to play, just go for the game’s music… I had it playing on my computer for an hour or so, even though it’s on a loop.

The graphics are probably the best thing about this game – the selection of clothing is small compared to the other two, and you can’t change the colours – but they are so beautifully drawn!  My only challenge, is that although the individual pieces are great (both Steampunk and fashionable, without being overly costume-y), I found it  hard to find things that really went together well from my perspective.  Another cool thing though is how well-transformed the clothing is by some interesting accessories. An interesting dress goes from a party dress with the addition of stockings, boots, belts, bracers, a jacket, or a hat – to a cool Steampunk look.

BTW, the same artist has an awesome pirate one too, called Polkadot Pirate.  Hmmm it makes me wonder about an airship pirate look…



The fourth doll with beautiful artwork.

The third game is called Steampunk Costume Creator – which has nice artwork (not as amazing as the previous game, but certainly beautiful!)  The best part is that there are a LOT of different fashion items, so there is a wide variety of looks.  It’s all colour-coordinated too, since it’s all in shades of brown, taupe, white, and black (with the exception of one pair of red-pink stockings).  You can adjust the item though with the Dark, Medium, Light selector.  The only problem that I have with it, is that you HAVE to use a corset, and it ALWAYS goes over top of the shirt.  Unfortunately this  means that a lot of the super-cute vests and shirts aren’t really workable, since they are always working with the corset.  That being said, there are some super-cute pieces, and some great accessories.

Four alternate looks

Have you found any other digital ‘paper’ dolls that embrace the steampunk aesthetic?  Let me know in the comments below!

Royal Tyrrell Museum

Another recent trip I took was to Drumheller and the Royal Tyrrell Museum. It started out with good intentions; one of the local Steampunk groups was organizing a group trip down there, and I thought it would be a nice chance to meet up with them, dress up a little, and visit the museum, since I haven’t been since Junior High!  My BFF came along as well, since she also hasn’t been able to go for years and years.  We got there about 20 minutes in advance, and waited around until about 15 past the assigned meeting time in the assigned meeting spot.  I sent an email to the event host, and checked the event message board on Facebook, and didn’t hear that the time was being pushed back or anything – so at quarter-past, we got tired of waiting in the heat, and went inside.  (She had another event to go to that evening, so we were working on a schedule…)

So the Steampunk part of the trip was a bit of a wash honestly… as we were leaving (more than two hours later) we passed a couple who were dressed in Steampunk attire, but at that point we were running tightly on schedule, so I didn’t even stop to say hello… 😦  I was kind of bummed out that the specific point of going was to connect with the group, and also disappointed that the organizer never did get back to me.  It’s entirely possible that she wasn’t able to make it herself, and that the two people who we saw as we left were the only ones who even made it at all.  Oh well… I’ll just have to try again to get out to meet up with them.

BUT… since it’s relevant to my blog, I thought I’d share with you some of the photos from the museum all the same.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos of how I dressed up for the event, since when we were outside, it was just too hot and sticky, and when we were inside, it was like Disneyland on a Teacher’s Conference day… (insanely busy and full of children.)  Note to self… go to these things on a weekday if possible to avoid the crowds!


T-Rex is obviously well loved here – there were at least three models like this… and they are HUGE!  (Ok.. I don’t know if all of them were T-Rex, but I think they were… I’m not so into it that I can tell them all apart…)

Cool bookshelf

Along with just being a display to coordinate with their prehistoric oceans exhibits, I thought that this was a neat setting for a Steampunk-esque scientist or explorer.  Plus, I love the light-filled shelves…….. hahah

Baby Octopus

One of the displays on those light-filled shelves was this little baby octopus.  It too made me think of the Cephaopod Tea Party blog that I like reading sometimes.

Under the sea....

An interesting under the sea display.

wacky carrot-like nautiloids

The under the sea display had these really interesting nautiloids that look a lot like carrots!  There were a number of other weird ones too, but I couldn’t get a great shot of them.  😦

After the museum we grabbed some lunch (wow it was hard to find a good place to eat in town… we ended up getting stuff from the deli at the grocery store instead) and then headed out to the hoodoos, and from there, home!

If you want to see the Royal Tyrrell Museum for yourself, here’s the info:

Toll free in Alberta
310-0000 then 403-823-7707

Toll free in North America (outside Alberta)

P.O. Box 7500
Drumheller, Alberta Canada T0J 0Y0

Highway 838 Midland Provincial Park
Drumheller, Alberta Canada T0J 0Y0