Photo Friday: Costumes, Books and More!

A New Corset

I started making a new corset for events. (Thanks to Lynne for helping to fit my toile.)

   Finished toile Up to adding spiral boning.

New books arrived at the post box:

Announcing my first short story collection.

I've also been editing, formatting and computer wrangling. I've just published my first collection of fantasy, science fiction and steampunk short stories - written between 2013 and 2016 - With a Twist of the Nib.

Available now on Smashwords and Amazon


And here's the cover:

And More February Events

And another event this month! I'll be at the Salisbury Secret Garden on Saturday 25th February. Salisbury council presents bands, movies, family fun and, this year, they also have a creators' market as part of the Adelaide Fringe. I'll be there, with my books, t-shirts, mugs and badges! There's also a free concert by Thirsty Merc and other Aussie bands. Don't forget to tune into Words Out Loud on PBS community radio (Salisbury, Adelaide) FM 89.7 (or online at on Tuesday . Listeners get an opportunity to get a free eBook copy of With a Twist of the Nib. You can find out more about Words Out Loud on their FB page.

Steampunk Explorer Costume Diary.

Earlier this year I scored some material on Freecyle (a local group who giveaway unwanted items so they can be recycled or reused), including brown cotton and blue polycotton offcuts. I was inspired to create a new steampunk outfit, loosely based on the character of Lara Croft. As usual, I left it til the last week to put my plan into action - for this year's Time Travellers' picnic.

The brown material seemed to be the remnants of an old sheet, left over from someone's project - wide enough to make a ruffle skirt (which would provide better circulation, hence much cooler than a pair of bloomers for a summer's afternoon). The blue cotton consisted of just under 5 metres of 48 cm wide offcuts - just wide enough to cut out waistcoat pieces.

To save time, I fished out a pattern I adapted for a previous project, and one I bought at the last Spotlight sale:
  • Butteric 3418 (skirt)
  • Simplicity 8114 (to make the waistcoat)


I use bought patterns as a starting point when time is short, using them as a sloper to adapt into something new. For this outfit I wanted a sleeveless waistcoat and a ruffled skirt with an uneven hem (longer at back).


waistcoatfitting_copyright2016karencarlisleI ignored the sleeves and used the basic waistcoat pattern as a toile, reshaping and trimming back the armholes and adding a dart to make it more fitted (with some help from a friend to reach under the arms).

I used cotton duck (in my cupboard stash) for the interlining. Cotton breathes and is cooler than synthetic iron-on interlining.

The pattern suggested plastic boning. I used 6mm metal spiral boning for the front and back side seams, and 10mm metal spiral boning for the side seams. I find this lasts better and gives better support (plus I had most of it in my cupboard).

There was just enough material to include all the body pieces and make a matching bias binding. (2) Phew! I added brass-look buttons to give a more steampunky feel. (3)

(2) Making bias: waistcoatbias_copyright2016karencarlisle waistcoatbias2_copyright2016karencarlisle

(3) Bias edging and buttons to finish off. waistcoatbiasarm_copyright2016karencarlisle waistcoatbuttons_copyright2016karencarlisle


I wanted a shorter look to this skirt (to keep it cool to wear and reminiscent of Lara's shorts). The front hem was raised to the knee and the back raised a few inches, with the hemline curved to join up. I managed to eek the lower ruffle from the original material. But I wanted a flirtier look to the skirt - a second ruffle. I purchased 1.5 metres of complimenting polycotton and added a second ruffle. The edges were zigzagged in contrasting cotton for decoration. skirtruffle_copyright2016karencarlisle


My new steampunk outfit had it's debut at The Time Travellers' Picnic last Sunday - consisting of a double-ruffled skirt and blue, boned waistcoat/bodice. This was inspired by a 'Freecycle' stash of material I obtained - with blue and brown cotton-blend material. All I had to buy were buttons, some extra metal spiral boning pieces and some buttons. Total cost just under $30 (mostly for the buttons).

 photo3-d-carlisle photo2-neil-swadling

Photos:©2016 Karen J Carlisle/ David Carlisle. Group photo: ©2016 Neil Swaddling. All Rights Reserved.

NaNoWriMo Wrap Up: Viola’s Second Journal Unfolds.

A few years ago, when I first decided to tackle a writing career, my dear hubby bought me a t-shirt. Emblazoned across its perfect purpleness was the word: WRITER. It was modeled on the 'Writer' flack jacket worn by Nathan Fillion in the television series Castle. Being a Castle (and Nathan FIllion) fan, I was stoked. And, even better, my hubby supported my writing! Perfect. writer T (Did I mention the t-shirt was actually a Valentine's day present?)

Monday was the last day of NaNoWriMo. I had yet to reach the half-way mark of the challenge. I donned my WRITER t-shirt. I was determined to make last ditch effort to increase my word count - no matter whether I officially 'won' or not. And that is what the challenge was really about. NaNo is not just about aiming for a high, sometimes impossible, word count (I really only had 19 days of writing time this month due to ill-health, family commitments and an opportunity to sell books and meet readers). It is about getting off my butt (well, when at my standing desk at least), putting pen to paper and getting down that first draft.

If I have an empty page, I have nothing to edit.

Looking back, I may have only achieved just under 20,000 words this round of NaNo  - but I have more than half the first draft of my novella, Eye of the Beholder. I have rough plots for the accompanying short stories. Viola is set for some interesting adventures. Eye of the Beholder has a plot, a determined heroine, a scheming protagonist and a loyal friend. It has mummies and curses, and the threat of the Asylum hovering over our characters.

nanowrimo Nov 2015

Here's a hint of last month's work. Our story opens...

EYE OF THE BEHOLDER (c) 2015 Karen J Carlisle

The grinding of the gate set Professor Clarke’s teeth on edge. The iron bars rattled as it slammed shut and encased them in gloom. Far off cries and screechings echoed through the empty hallway.

Keys chinked at the Warden’s hip as they trudged further into the bowels of Bedlam, leaving the sane world behind them. The stench of sweat and urine gripped/tugged/ clawed at his nostrils as they passed heavily bound doors with large locks and small barred windows.

Intermittent moaning, clawing, hissing greeted them. Thuds rattled the hinges to herald their passing.

The way ahead was barred and locked. The Warden paused.

Clarke’s hands trembled. He had not set foot in Bedlam since...

He clenched his fingers and straightened his shoulders. It was louder than he remembered.

“Are you certain?” asked the Warden.

Clarke closed his eyes and relaxed his fingers. He was a man of science, of facts. He opened his eyes and nodded.

Beyond the portal lay rows of barred cells, each with its own litany of fetors, spectacles and disquiet. Clarke stared at the back of the Warden’s head. It bobbed along the corridor then turned and jerked toward one of the cells.

(This is a first draft and subject to rewrites, edits and re-ordering).

For more updates on Eye of the Beholder or The Department of Curioisties, follow me on Twitter:@kjcarlisle or Facbook:Karen J Carlisle.