Saturday, July 30, 2011

How To Make: Steampunk Goggles

There are about as many ways to make steampunk goggles as there are steampunk goggles, but I hope this tutorial will help get you started.

Some of the things you'll need:

- Leather/vinyl [for the eye cups and straps]

- a small buckle or vest clip [to adjust the straps]

- 1.5 inch plumbing coupler [to make the eye pieces]

- Plexiglas [for the lenses]

- Optional: 2-hole pipe strap [for the nose piece]

The most important piece is the plumbing coupler, which looks like this:

You can find these at any hardware store for around $6, and one coupler will make both eye cups.

Mark off the width you'd like for each cup on the pipe:

We used a fat pencil as a guide - but keep in mind my goggles are shallow, and sit very close to the face. You may want your eye cups to be longer.

Next, cut the pipe:

To hold the pipe, John clamped channel lock pliers on the edge and then secured the pliers in his table vise.

Oh, and it only looks like he's about to cut his fingers off. Promise. ;)

Keep in mind that the coupler pieces that screw on to these edges are the only metal that will show on your finished goggles. So, if you want your goggles something other than silver, paint those pieces, not these. (I painted mine copper.)

Now the lenses:

To keep your saw from scratching the Plexiglas, first cover it in blue painter's tape:

Since we already had a finished pair of goggles to work from, I used one of those lenses as a template.

Cut out your lenses on a scroll saw:

Sorry about the crazy hair photo bomb.

Once your lenses are cut out, you'll need to use heavy grit sandpaper to fine-tune the fit. They should fit snugly inside the outer screw-on pieces of the coupler.

NOTE: If Plexiglas is not an option, cut your lenses from a clear thick report cover. You can even layer a few sheets together to make them stronger, and no one will be the wiser!

Next, the eye cups:

Wrap a piece of paper around the metal pipe to mark the length and form a template. You want your eye cup to flair out slightly at the temple, so that it forms a seal around your eye. To do that, your shape should look something like this:

Play around with the shape to see what you prefer: the more rounded the valleys, the farther out your temple flair will be.

And in case I've completely lost you, here's what I'm talking about:

See how the far edge is higher? That's the temple edge. Again, on my goggles it's a fairly subtle difference, so play around and see what size you prefer.

Once you have your template, add about an inch to the straight edge and the two side edges, and then cut our your vinyl/leather:

The extra inch along the straight edge allows you to roll over and sew the curved edge like this.

Now, I won't lie to you: this part is hard if you're not a sewer. (Er, meaning a person who sews, not a smelly network of waste disposal pipes. But you probably knew that.)

Which is why I had John do it. :D

To puff out our rolled edge, we stuck a piece of rolled paper raffia inside. This is completely optional, though.

Finally, sew the two edges together right side in, flip your cup inside out, and you've got your finished leather eye cup. It should fit snugly around the metal pipe, like so:

Glue the leather to the metal, making sure to leave the metal edge with the threads exposed. Here I'm using a toothpick to fill in the tiny seam between the leather and metal with superglue.

At this point you'll want to attach the nose piece. We used a copper pipe strap bent into shape, but I'm considering going back and replacing it with a strap of leather. (Because my eye cups are so shallow, the metal nose piece touches the bridge of my nose, which is uncomfortable. If your cups are longer, though - as John's are - you won't have this problem.)

We attached the nose piece with bolts and small screws. You can do the same with a leather or chain nose piece.

Next cut your two straps and glue them to the sides of the eye cups, as you see above. If you bring the raw edge of the strap all the way forward against the metal threading, it will be covered when you screw on the edge piece, like so:

Also be sure to hand-stitch your straps along the edge, since glue alone probably won't be strong enough.

Once you sew on your strap buckle or vest clip, you're ready for the fun part:


I bought these brass filigree pieces from The Mermaid's Dowry on Etsy, which has hundreds and hundreds of gorgeous stampings and charms. (Kid? Meet candy shop.)

I glued the tiny rose gold piece on the nose piece (bending it to match the curve), and I hand-stitched the largest filigree pieces onto the straps:

And finally, on a whim I cut out two circles of iridescent cellophane to insert in the lenses, which turned out to be my very favorite part. It adds a lot of fun color, is easy to see through, and helps hide the bolts from the nose piece besides.

Cost Break Down:

Because this is one of those projects that uses tiny scraps left over from other projects, the cost can be quite negligible. The only things I had to purchase were the plumbing coupler ($6) and the vest clips ($3). Even with the vinyl and filigree pieces, I'd say your material cost should stay well under $20 - probably more like $15.

So, if you decide to make a pair, please send me pictures!

And if you missed it, click here to see John's goggles and ray gun, plus more beauty shots of these.


Come see ALL of my craft projects on one page, right here!


  1. Awesome tutorial! Thanks for the meticulous step-by-stepness. Also, I noticed in the shot with the hair photo bomb, that you were not exaggerating in the least about your tiny little hobbit hands. I think they go with the rest of you, in a cute sort of way. :)

    1. I'm 10, and her hands are slightly bigger than mine. P.S. My hands and feet are tiny. xD

  2. You can also take an old pair of sunglasses and sand them down. Or, if you're cheap like me, use a Gatorade bottle lid painted copper/brass for the visible part. I personally have a set of Gatorade goggles that I can switch between sun-glass lenses and clear lenses.

    I will have to re-make mine sometime though. I threw them together in a couple nights, and they are nowhere near as pretty as I'd like.

  3. Ray-gun tutorial?? Please?? Pretty please?

  4. So freaking excited to make some goggles. I have to start accumulating the necessary stuff.

    A totally incredible tutorial, BTW.

  5. Thanks for the tutorial! As I've got about a million things on the sewing machine right now these won't get done in time for Dragon*Con this year, but I am definitely bookmarking for later. Now back to work on tabards and bustles and corsets (oh my!).

  6. So cool! I'm thinking I'll ask my dad to look over your tutorial and make me a pair for Christmas. :-)

  7. As Marebabe said, Awesome tutorial! Gave me a lot of ideas. Thanks for sharing! I really want to try the cellophane idea.

  8. Brilliant! the raffia-filled welt and iridescent film are really nice touches

  9. you so need to check this group out! Circus Oz : Steampowered! ;)

    just a bit steampunk droolworthy? ;)

  10. Damn, I need powertools.
    Wait, is that why people think I'm weird?
    Eh, eff 'em.

    PS I was talking to my mom the other day about your awesome wand display. She said she hoped I could find a nice, geeky husband like John.

    Much love.

  11. This is fantastic!! And thank you for the modifications if we aren't lucky enough to have access to a scroll saw! (eighty-odd sewing machines and left-over fabric, yes, but no scroll saw)

  12. I've been eyeing (hehe) steampunk goggles for a while now, but I have one major problem, I already wear glasses ( and I'm blind without them, and I never wear contacts ), so does anyone know how could I accommodate this problem?

    I have an old pair of glasses, and
    I was thinking about buying welding googles ( and re do them with faux leather and all that ) and try to re-shape the lenses to go inside.
    Or maybe try and work around the normal shape of the glasses..
    Anyone know if it's feasible? what kind of tool would I need?

  13. Sometimes I really wish you and John would open an Etsy shop, even if you only sold 1 item a month. (Though the bidding wars might get ugly.) Think of all the experimenting you could do in the name of commerce. Even the items you personally think are flawed I notice still have their admirers here. It could also be a place we could find Epbot robot stickers because I sure as heck haven't found them anyplace else. Please? Do it for the non-DIYers who are all thumbs and don't want to lose any to power tools.

  14. Jaw, meet floor.

    You. Guys. Are. AWESOME. : )

    Speaking of D*C, the PBS special is online right now:

  15. These are awesome but involve tools I do not know how to use! I have another tutorial I am going to try but I know mine will not look as realistic as yours do.

    PS- Have you seen Cowboys & Aliens? It has a definite steampunk vibe going on. While we were there, we saw a preview for The 3 Musketeers which is definitely a steampunk movie.

  16. To carotte said...
    My daughter and I wear these goggles over our glasses I bought black and painted them.

  17. Oh poop I forgot to ask my question what # saw disk did you use to cut the pipe?

  18. john (the hubby of Jen)August 1, 2011 at 8:41 PM


    Actually, I have no idea. I have a quick connect attachment that takes Dremel blades with a metal center. I got them on Ebay as sort of a big bag o' discs. The good thing is they're normally like 10 bucks for 3 and I got about 50 generic ones for the same price.

    That doesn't help at all, does it?


  19. Just a toss-in from a theatre geek...if you want different colors in your lenses, you can hit your local theatrical lighting store and get lighting gels for about 6 bucks for an extremely large sheet. You'll want to stay away from the really, really saturated colors because they have extremely low light penetration and it would be like going around in blinders, but you can get about every shade (or buy a swatch book for 4 bucks and piece together colors to make patchwork-lensed goggles.)

  20. I'm so glad you guys put this tutorial up! I randomly need a steampunk-esque costume for a birthday party tomorrow, so today was spent running around finding supplies. The tutorial is great!

    I haven't started building yet, but I was happy with my supply substitutions...

    Instead of a metal coupler (I'm scared of my very first time using a dremel on a giant hunk of metal), I found a PVC coupler. It should be less scary to cut. ;) Only thing I need to figure out is what to paint it with. The screw-on rings have little lines on the outside (as a sort of grip) so that's going to be an interesting addition...

    I thought I'd be able to find a little scrap of leather/fake leather bits at JoAnn's, but no dice. I ended up buying 1/8th of a yard of vinyl tablecloth material in a dark brown -- it was only $1.80! Not half bad.

    We'll see how my tinkering goes tomorrow... ;) Thanks again Jen and John!

  21. I've been interested in steampunk for a while, but I found a VERY Victorian skirt and jacket in a box in my closet this weekend (it was my mom's) and that inspired me to actually seriously think about putting an outfit together. I'd love a blog post with a list of good resources or ideas, or something about the outfit that you have to go with your goggles...

  22. I may be needing some of these for my GeekGirlCon costume. Your recipe looks fairly easy, so I'll probably use it. I'll send pictures!

  23. Great tutorial. What width would you suggest for the lenses?

  24. THIS IS FANTASTIC! I just finished making my own (with a few changes to your instructions) and they ended up great. Thanks for this great tutorial and this blog, as well as Cake Wrecks, which I love.
    Here's the link to where I posted my finished goggles pics:

  25. I plan on making myself a pair of steam punk goggles, and im wondering where to get a piece of plexiglass to if you have any ideas as to where i can find some please let me know

  26. i plan on making a pair and just using Tupperware plastic for the lenses should be easier to handle and find.

  27. Please, can you tell me where did you find the plumbing coupler? I've been looking arround and I can't find anything like that.


  28. The plumbing couplers *should* be in any standard hardware store, Fiolhner. I got mine at either Home Depot or Lowe's. Good luck!

  29. I found the exact same coupling at Lowe's and only Lowe's, Home Depot, Sears, and Ace did not have it or anything close. Simply search "Straight Coupling", print out that page and bring it in, if they don't have it they will order it.

    1. Is there any way you could provide a link? I am unable to find anything.

  30. Excelent tutorial. Thank you so much for your work.

  31. What was your leather thickness? Mine was too soft and i had to toss it. Please let me know.

  32. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I've been looking all over the place for one and quite coincidentally was recommended your blog by someone you met at Disney World recently who I happen to work with. I came here looking for inspiration for the two beautiful smashed coins he brought me back and stumbled on the Steampunk goggles. Epicness.

  33. at the step when you added the copper nose piece, how did you get the holes through the metal and leather without messing up the leather? since it was already glued to the coupler? really looking forward to making some of these but not sure on that step. or how to attack the other nose piece options you mentioned the leather or chain? -Zoey


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