Every Steampunk Writer Needs a Good Coat

Months and months ago, Beth Cato revealed the fantastic cover of her debut novel, The Clockwork Dagger.

This is a pretty important moment for a writer. This is the moment where you receive the first and most obvious fruits of putting your baby into someone else’s hands and seeing how those people represent it to the world. The moment is all the more fraught because authors have little control over this process. There are many forces at play that are not only counter to representing the author’s vision, but that can seem downright counter-intuitive (like the fact that marketers are not always marketing to the general public; often they are marketing to the book-buyers. In that case, you want a cover that looks like all the other covers, so that someone buying in bulk can look at it right away and know where the book is going to go/who it is going to sell to. Or, that has been the conventional wisdom for a long time. Please god let it be changing.)

Beth lucked out. Beth got an AWESOME cover:

So much hotness, right up front.

Trigger the following Facebook exchange:

Me: Omg, I totally want that red coat.

Beth: I want the green one; it’s my favorite color.

Me: I could totally make that.

Beth: [jfwoiefja;oije ío;jlas;dihg!!!! [I paraphrase. She was much more articulate in her enthusiasm!]

Months pass. Emails and measurements and cover-sample-photos-that-I-cannot-share are exchanged. I tell Beth that I never sew for money–only materials reimbursement–because, if I’m actually getting paid for something like this, I get exceedingly anxious about it not being PERFECT! Also, it puts me in a deadline situation, and my life is too busy for those.

In June I journeyed to my favorite cheapy-mc-cheapmeister fabric store down in San Jose because screw Joann’s and their crappy selection and over-priced goods. After a few miscues on what fabric to go with, I found the PERFECT material!


Armed with cotton lining in the same green, a heavy muslin for patterning/interfacing, and a Simplicity pirate coat pattern for me to gut, I was ready to sew! Which, of course, is why everything sat by my desk for two months.

The calm before the storm. Also known as Thrace’s new cat toy.
Geometry was the only math class I did well in, believe it or not.

Like I said, there’s a reason I don’t sew for money.

But this is the weekend I tackle this project! Last night I hied myself over to Marie Brennan’s place. She’s got a large floor, an absence of cats, and a similar enough body-type to Beth that I can use her to rework the pattern I’m using. For payment, I might need to make her a duplicate coat (this green is also HER favorite color), but I’m okay with that.

We chatted plot issues on Marie’s forthcoming novel, Chains and Memory, while I cut out the pattern pieces I would need. Then we watched The Avengers, talked about writing ensemble casts, and sighed many sighs over Loki (that was mostly me doing the sighing) while I tried to make Simplicity’s stupid geometry fit into reality. I finally gave up around the time the Hulk was taking out S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Helicarrier and laid out the pieces in the way that made the best sense to me. I mean, it’s $1/yard muslin. I don’t need to conserve it.

I have all my pattern pieces cut in muslin. I’m going back to Marie’s today to make a mock-up, adjust the pattern, cut the fabric and lining, and probably start on the actual sewing. I’m thinking today’s sewing movies will be Thor and Thor II. Loki is my muse.


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