Easy Mother/Daughter Steampunk Gypsy Hairpieces

Try these steampunk-tinged gyspy hairpieces for toddlers, kids, tweens, teens and adults. Images by Rick Tate

My family will be hitting our first full-fledged Steampunk event this weekend.

One of the best things about the steampunk genre is the impressive workmanship of their costumes and props. For beginners, some of these over-the-top movie prop-worthy accessories can be quite overwhelming, expensive, and time consuming, as well as hard to manage for younger kids.

For first-time and family steampunk cosplayers, as well as those who just want to add a little blend of Bohemian and steampunk styles to their regular garb, these simple coordinating steampunk hair pieces can give mother/daughter teams a united look, while keeping things age appropriate.

Toddlers and young girl don’t always want to keep heavy things on their head for very long, so a simple hair clip is all they need. Tweens are ready to look a little more adventurous, but still want to remain active. 13-year-olds don’t have to look like 18-year-olds to be cool. This is where the more athletic ponytail bands work well.

hairpiece materials
All levels of this DIY start with a different basic hair piece, but all three utilize the same materials like deco tubing ribbon and a variety of found items. Images by Lisa Kay Tate.

Older teens and adults can make a deceptively elaborate steampunk headpiece using a pair of cheap costume goggles. These don’t have to be steampunk-style goggles; flight goggles or costume aviator or police gear from dress-up sets will also work. You can also start from scratch and use GeekMom Marziah’s popular steampunk goggle tutorial to create your own. Who says parents can’t show off a little?

What you need:

  • Alligator or bendy hair clip (for toddler/kid version)
  • Two plain pony tail bands (for tween version)
  • Costume goggles (For teen/adult version)
  • Two or three packages of deco tubing ribbon
  • Craft foam, ribbons, yarn, rope, and twine
  • Steampunk charms, trinkets, keys, watch parts, beads, feather, or other accessories or found items

Step 1: Create the tubing ribbon base. This first step is where the different age versions of the hair pieces will best coordinate with each other, as long as similar color patterns are used. The difference is the way they are attached to the hairpieces. Deco tubing ribbon is often found in seasonal decorating areas of craft stores, and can be lightly colored with spray paint to change the colors, if necessary.

For toddler version: Wrap two or three colors of tubing around your hand three times, as if working on a gift wrap bow. Secure them in the middle with beading wire. Cut the loops at the ends, so it looks like a flower for fireworks. Don’t attach to the barrette yet.

For the tween version: Knot strand of tubing around the pony tail bands by folding them in half, and wrapping the ends around the band, and through the “loop” created by folding the strand. Make the length of each strand as long as you like; 18′ inches (before folding) works well. This is identical to the method used to make ribbon tutus or hairpieces; it’s just that simple.

For the adult version: Cut a piece of elastic long enough to reach the entire length of the goggles, but don’t actually attach them to the goggles yet. Knot long strands of tubing along the elastic, the same way as the tween version. Leave about two inches of elastic on each end.

hairpiece step 1
Treat the tubing like a gift wrapping bow for the kid version (left), and simply knot it around the elastic for the tween and adult version. Images by Lisa Tate.

Step 2: Add some “Industrial’ ribbon. Steampunk has to have a at least a little of Industrial Revolution to it, and lightweight materials like craft foam and ribbons are good stand-ins for metal or rubber.

For the toddler version: Cut a piece of black, grey, or brown craft foam in circle about two inches in diameter. Fold it in half, and then fold that half again, so it resembles a cone. Clip the tip off to create a small hole in the middle of the circle. Cut the outer edges of the circle to look like flower pedals, the open up the circle. Use a hole punch around the edges to give it that “industrial” look. Thread the wire that holds the tubing ribbon together through the center hole, as you would a flower boutonniere in a doily. Attach the arrangement to the barrette.

For the tween and adults versions: Cut lengths of ribbon or craft foam in long strands and fold the end over the band, randomly between the tubing pieces. Fold over and the band or elastic and lightly tack together with a needle and thread. Use the hole punch to make holes all along the length of the strip.

Once this is done on the adult version, tie the ends of the elastic around the goggles’ band on both sides of the lenses. Using a glue gun, secure the elastic strip to the back of the goggles, to hold it in place. Cover with an additional ribbon or piece of craft foam, to keep it in place.

Add some metallic-colored or earth-tone ribbon and yarn to fill it out, if you want.

hairpiece step 2
Add some craft foam strips, ribbons, yarn, and other materials to fill out the look. Images by Lisa Kay Tate.

Step 3: Accessorize! This final step is the most fun, and is where the personality of the hairpieces start to really show. Steampunk-looking accessories can be found in the most unlikely places. Dig around through junk drawers for keys and watch pieces, raid the toy chest for old pirate, space, fairy tale, or safari party favors, search tool boxes for washers and nuts, hit the bargain bin at the craft store for beads and steampunk/industrial charms, upcycle some old long-forgotten or broken jewelry, or head outside to the backyard, forest, or beach for small feathers, twigs, shells, or other odds and ends.

Beads can be placed on the ends of the tubing, or accessories can be tied on. Some items can be glued on the barrettes or goggles. Once finished, secrure the knots with a small drop of superglue if you are afraid of losing anything. More items can be added over time.

The rule with this step is, go light on the toddler/kid version (maybe just couple of little dangly items and two or three glued-on charms), add enough to the tween version to make the pieces fun, but not too heavy, and go as crazy as you want for the teen/adult version–within reason. You want to get noticed for an impressive piece, not for falling over from a too-weighted-down head.

The accessories is where the fun comes out. Many charms and trinkets can be easily tied on the ends of yarn, ribbon or twine strands. Images by Lisa Kay Tate.

That’s all there is to making eye-catching pieces of any age. These even look great for those not ready to commit to the full-on steampunk costume. Wear them with a t-shirt and jeans, skirt, or leggings and they will still draw attention, especially if you remember to wear them as a family.

Tween pieces
These may be just modified hair clips, pony tail holders, or headbands, but they are great fun to wear. Image by Rick Tate.

Lisa Kay Tate is a veteran feature writer with 20 years experience in newspaper, magazine and freelance writing. In addition to serving as Associate Editor for her local arts and entertainment guide, El Paso Scene, she has been a regular contributor to the site ihogeek.com and maintains her own blogsite at lisathegeekmom.wordpress.com. She and her husband, writer/photographer Rick, live on the edge of "New Texico" where they keep busy raising their two geeklings and sharing space with their dog, Sirius Black, and cat, Loki.