Steampunk rugged corset

Steampunk maker Nifer Fahrion worked with Robynne Winchester of Tulgey Wood Designs to whip up this rugged, construction grade corset to wear at Burning Man with the Man KCrew:

To create this hybrid corset, I first chose a fabric consisting of same type of rugged cotton canvas found throughout the Carhartt line. Durable, practical, and breathable, the material allows me to get down and dirty with my hammer and drill without fear of damaging my corset.

Next it was important the corset be functional and versatile. I attached holsters for a hammer, drill, tape measure and pliers, as well as pockets to use for assorted needs while working.

All the tool holsters and pockets are attached to the corset with heavy-duty snaps allowing me to change the configuration according to my needs on the job site.

NifNaks - Rugged Femininity, my new work corset!: (Thanks, Jake!)

(Image: Nifer in her Carhart corset at Burning Man 2009)


  1. Looks more “Fallout 3 Raider” than steampunk, especially given the model.

    In fact, there’s just about nothing steampunk about it… except perhaps some really tenuous connection simply because it’s a corset and corsets have a sort of connection to the Victorian era.

    I dunno, seems to be seriously trying too hard to use the term “steampunk”.

  2. Cory appears to allow for more memetic drift in his usage of popular terms than most. Although he might be simply referring to the woman being a maker of things steampunky, rather than this particular item being steampunk.

  3. Of course it’s steampunk, you fools; this is only the prototype. The finished version will be in brass.

    The fishnets and blue-green braids, OTOH, are definitely not steampunky.

  4. Thanks for blogging about my Carhartt-Inspired Work Corset! :)

    Although I am a big fan of the steampunk aesthetic and have participated in steampunk projects in the past, like the Neverwas Haul, I really wouldn’t necessarily categorize this work corset as steampunk.

    Rather than deriving it’s inspiration from the Victorian-era, my Carhartt-Inspired Work Corset blends the contemporary and functional characteristics of tool belts & work wear, with a classic garment of a corset. My work corset is rugged, practical, and versatile, and enables me to have all the tools I need handy on a worksite—while looking like no other builder on site. ;)

    However, I do like the idea of possibly using the same modular tool system to perhaps make steampunk-inspired gadgets and accouterments for costumed events. What a great way to expand the versatility of my work corset! :)

    I should also mention that this corset couldn’t have been made possible without talented seamstress and corsetmaker, Robynne Winchester of Tulgey Wood Designs (who also works in period fashion). We are collaborating on creating more work corsets like these, for corset-wearing builders and construction workers like myself.

    Happy hammering!
    Nifer Fahrion

  5. Sexy? Sure.

    But functional? Seriously? Corsets are designed to squeeze you in the waist and limit the expansion of your ribcage. You can’t bend your back in them, you can’t breathe heavily, and if you bend over and are more than a B-cup, your bewbs are gonna be spilling all over the place.

    I’d love to wear that with some sexy accessories and jam out on the playa, sure. But when I need to do some construction, give me a real fucking tool belt and a tank top, thankyouverymuch.

    1. if you bend over and are more than a B-cup, your bewbs are gonna be spilling all over the place.

      Garments often come in different sizes for different bodies.

  6. I like it as a work corset! I think the owner and the maker got what they set out to do, and on that score, it succeeds.

    However, umm… it’s pretty standard for corsets to be made out of heavy cotton twill anyway: corset coutil! It’s what’s under all those thin layers of embroidered silk and lace on dress-up corsets.

    Carhartt fabric is a nifty take on it, but the general concept of a corset being made of a heavy, hard-wearing fabric isn’t new at all.

  7. Um, yeah, what Revelrybynight said.

    Hey, I find corsets deliciously swoonsome, don’t get me wrong. But I fear wearing such a thing while undertaking physical labour would lead to some swooning of the blacking-out-and-winding-up-in-the-ER real variety. Which, all things considered, seems like an eventuality one would want to avoid.

  8. That’s one worn out hammer. There is a good possibility that sharp fragments of metal will fly off that hammerhead when used and there is an awful lot of exposed skin for it to hit.

  9. I’m completely comfortable with Cory tagging this work Steampunk. In fact I’ll go a step further and say it’s a hell of a lot more Steampunk than a great deal of the pseudovic costumes we usually see.

    Don’t get me wrong; I dearly love the cosplayers and their creativity. But it’s the stuff like this, stuff that leans toward the punk, that really floats my boat.

  10. WTF?

    Ths brd wnts t wrk, bt sh wrs grmnt spcfclly dsgnd t mk wrk mpssbl. Sh ds vrythng pssbl t mk hrslf lk hds (grn hr, shvd spts, mchnry stck thrgh hr bdy prts) nd thn wnts t wr grmnt t mk hr lk sxy.

    ll cn sy s WTF? Sh ght t mk p hr mnd whthr sh wnts t b n f th gys r n f th grls.

  11. Mojave@#10 and Jewels Vern@#17: If you are going to comment on the attractiveness of another poster, it would be only fair that you open yourselves up to the same scrutiny. Please submit pictures of yourselves wearing a corset so we can judge you accordingly.

  12. @20

    is that not the burden of the cam-whore? only the one foolish enough to think they are worth looking at gets subjected to the scrutiny. the ones that sit at home, well aware of their own unattractiveness are the true heroes.

  13. Corsets can restrict movement and make work impossible, but they don’t have to, depending on how they’re worn. Sure, if you tightlace them as far as they’ll go, you won’t be able to bend much, but I’ve worn a corset more reasonably and still crawled underneath the desk to troubleshoot IT problems.

    Just saying — there is a way to wear a corset, get some shaping out of it, and still not become completely useless for physical labor. Most Victorian women wore them, and they were still washerwomen, bakers, maids, nannies, etc. Corsets are not all about the sexy, despite what some might think.

  14. t’s nt stmpnk.
    t’s nt prctcl.
    t’s nt sxy r ttrctv.
    S wht’s th pnt?

    Rfrrng t tht ld wrtrs’ dg:
    f t dsn’t dvnc th plt r chrctr – ct t.

    Mst b slw nws dy r smthng.

  15. I find myself in hearty disagreement with Mojave and Jewels Vern here; the model is quite lovely. But Quibbler is right, that hammer should be retired.

  16. This is wildly unsafe and impractical. It is highly recommended that female construction workers wear chainmail bikinis on site at all times.

  17. I hope the fabric was washed about a hundred times before being assembled into the corset, because if my workman’s kilt is anything to go by, her nipples are going to be scraped right off by that thing!

  18. I think both the wearer and the corset are quite attractive. And the fact she designed it so she can look attractive and still work in it bumps both up into damn sexy.

  19. “Corsets are not all about the sexy, despite what some might think.”

    I don’t see your point. All your examples are women working *despite* having to wear a corset, not using a corset to enhance their work. Sure, you *can* wear a corset and still perform physical tasks, but why would you *prefer* to if you have the choice?

    I thought this post was all right, another example of make-craft. It’s not a far-off idea; supportive garments are handy for maintaining your posture. When I got to the part about holsters (on your corset?), though, it strayed too far into parody.

  20. Mojave and Jewels, I’d bother to tell you you’re being rude, especially considering the person pictured has been active in this commenting thread, but I doubt you’d learn anything from it.

    Please, people.. Think before making comments. Don’t be like Mojave/Jewels – try to add to the discussion.

    Clockwork, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

  21. @ #27

    ‘…and left out “Fun”.’

    Yep. Take a look at the expression on the model’s face. She’s having a ball. For future reference: Smile = Fun. Scowl = Not Fun. You’re welcome.

  22. NifNaks – you go, girl! Think it looks fun and sassy. I mean, how’s one to maintain that aura of femininity on the job site without a corset? ;)

    Don’t listen to the naysayers; I think you look lovely.

  23. I don’t understand the flack about it not being Steampunk. Personally, I think the genre has more than enough room for more punk related looks. The rugged utilitarianism look of the corset sure fits that for me.

    I think this is way more interesting to look at than the tactical corset I saw a while back. I like how the maker used Carhart style fabric because you know instantly what it is that’s being visually played with. That’s what makes a work-corset so interesting to see.

    I also love the snap on tool pouches. That’s amazingly cool as an idea. I hope I’m not being horrible, but I sew an awful lot of stuff, and might just incorporate tool pouches into a few pieces. It’s just that good an idea.

    Lastly, the model is very attractive. Only on the internet can you find folks willing to dispute a pretty girl’s attractiveness so thoroughly, with absolutely no basis.

  24. It doesn’t look like it’s laced tight enough to restrict movement very much, and it probably does pretty good double duty as a back brace during heavy lifting or extension; and the designer/model is wicked hot to boot.

  25. Wow. Just when I think the BoingBoing peanut gallery can’t get any more pointlessly vile and hateful, y’all prove me wrong. Bravo, queefnuggets.

    Nifer, you look fierce and lovely. (But you already knew that.)

  26. @clockwork Thank you for this gem:

    “one more [of] these STEAMPUNK that is not steampunk [posts] and im deleting the bookmark and filing boing boing under “was cool”

    Threatening to quit Boing Boing forever is funny but not on purpose troll performance art. Time for boingboing’s editors to appoint a special team to oversee every steampunk reference to make sure it passes @clockwork’s precise definition of an amorphous ahistoric mashup genre. One mis-steam and we’d lose clock’s briliant critical mind and insightful comments, why we’d be abandoned to the mercy of BB’s filthy editors who blog only to know what @clockwork thinks of them. Oh wait, @clockwork’s not going to stop reading BB or comparing it to Fox. You’d criticize another web site but you love having the audience you love to insult.

  27. Thank you for posting this! I’m the maker.

    It was a pleasure working with Nifer on this corset! I love the contrast of the workhorse toolbelt with the classic Victorian curves.

    Regarding corset construction and the wearing of corsets: This is a custom-made corset, and it’s meant to be comfortable as well as attractive. Since I made the corset to conform to Nifer’s shape, not the other way around, it will not constrict her ribcage or dig in at inconvenient places. It is still a restrictive garment, but not nearly so much as one might have been led to think by media images of corsets (cough, Pirates of the Caribbean, cough). Custom-made also means that anyone of any shape can wear a corset; cup size doesn’t matter. You won’t fall out even if you’re a JJ.

  28. @47: Or she ignored the comments (or even didn’t read them all). No explicit indication that she’s “cool” about them.

  29. Wait… People need a bookmark to find BB? Yeah, that recursive URL must be hard to remember for folks who feel the need to complain about the flavor of their free ice cream…

    Nifer and Amphigorey: If you didn’t get such a reaction, it wouldn’t be cutting edge would it? Keep rockin’ that sexy lacey thang!

  30. You need to get that onto ‘This Old House’ or maybe ‘Extreme Home Makeover’.

    Now I’m trying to think of a way to make a “This Old Whorehouse” joke without impugning NifNaks’ honor.

  31. Not steampunk – but non-steampunk garment on a teampunk-maker.
    Another case of Cory’s headline crafting going a bit beyond the actual content of the article. He should get a job with the News of the Screws.

  32. Hey, Cory —

    I’m the photographer of the image you use in your article. While I’m thrilled you liked it enough to use here, it would be polite if you could give proper attribution and a link back to my site ( ) or the photo page ( ).

    As it stands, you give more credit to the man who emailed you the photo than the person who took it or the woman who made the corset featured.

    Thanks and cheerio,
    – Neil

  33. A simple link to the person who sent it, after many many words about the maker, the wearer, and the link to the wearer’s site, which links to your flickr, and you are whining even more on your own page, to boot?


  34. Wanted to chime in that I’ve settled my opinion on Carnivillain’s perspective on this. I can’t say what triggered me to be so annoyed by his annoyance at this whole image copy thing.

    While I still don’t agree at all that Cory has really done anything wrong, I can understand that Neil feels that way, and it’s really not my place to criticize him for that.

  35. Nice work Amphigorey!

    Come on back to share your new projects, when they’re ready for mutant consumption.

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