This is a photo diary of my costuming "travels"; where I've learned and struggled to make historical costumes for myself. They're not always pretty, but always fun. And I want to share with others what I learn along the way. **You can have my posts delivered to your email by signing up at the lower part of the right column.**

About Me

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Past President & member of the San Diego Costume Guild, and Costumer's Guild West in Los Angeles. I make my own historical costumes but don't sell any unless I get tired of it.The eras I've made so far are 1770 up to 1918. My favorite is the 1880s bustle. And I've dabbled in some 1930s & 40s.


Monday, July 21, 2014

The Spam Folder –My Morning Laugh

A very humorous collection of spam comments on my blog.
I think Google needs to come up with a better translator because some of the comments which have obviously been translated into English are just so mindboggling and confusing as to what the sender was trying to say. I’ve started calling them my morning laugh. Most of the comments have absolutely nothing to do with the content of my particular post, and even when they try to make it sound like they had read it, it’s something totally different.  And of course at the end they add an invitation to visit their blog with a link.
These all automatically go into my moderation folder and I have to approve them before they get posted so if you read my blog very often you will never see them. Because they get marked as spam and then deleted. So guys, take notice: YOU'RE WASTING YOUR TIME HERE! 

But today I’m going to share a collection of them, without active links. I wished this idea had been suggested awhile ago because there have been some really good ones that had me splitting my sides with laughing so much.

This one on my 1873 Cotton Mourning Gown for Dia de los Muertos
Hey! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any trouble with hackers?
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I get those ones with questions a lot. Like they think I’m an expert in technology. Hah! And btw, the link DOESN'T go to Clash of the Clans. You just have to scroll over it for the real url to show up.  At least I’m that smart.

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Haven’t they noticed yet that none of their comments are being posted?

I haven’t a clue on this one but no:
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In opinia mea, daca toti web owners si blogerii ar face comentarii la fel de curioase ca ale voastre, 
webul ar fi cu mult mai util decat a fost pana acum. Mi-a fost greu sa nu scriu. Foarte bine postat!
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It’s not that I don’t mind that people can’t speak English and we agree Google translater is pretty bad, but it’s the obvious spamming of their business when it has nothing to do with my blog.

Three in one day today, that’s a record.
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That’s enough hilarity for one post. Now back to serious stuff: Costume making!  

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Quickie Quilted Petticoat

For the last six months I've been working on three different 1837 gowns. If you’ve been following my blog you’ll remember them. The skirts on these are very full, and both corded petticoats along with multiple petticoats, were used to achieve that fullness.
As the date to Costume College is quickly approaching and I’m trying to finish those and another dress, I’m running out of time to make a few things I need for them; one being big fluffy petticoats to get the period correct look. What’s a girl to do? I remembered a theatre trick that someone had told me a couple years ago after another costumer I know made her own wonderful version of an 1830s dress and shared her “cheater” petticoat.

This is the look we’re going for, a full skirt kind of high on the hips. Of course this is a fashion print so take that into account.
I bought a corded petticoat that was pretty stiff but even that along with a silk taffeta ruffled petticoat still didn’t give me that much lift. In comes the theatre “trick”. I was told to buy some quilted fabric and just gather it into a waistband. Piece of cake! So I bought some in white. And it sat for two years until I forgot what it was for and during a spring cleaning binge, I gave it away.
So the other day I was reminded about doing this and needed some more quilted fabric. I tried looking through a couple thrift shops for a quilted mattress pad to use but had no luck and I didn’t have a lot of time. So I forked over another $10 for two yards with my coupon at JoAnn’s, and this time I bought pink.
The fabric was 36” wide and since that’s about the length I wanted, I used that as my length and would gather the 2 yards into the waist.
Originally I was told the fabric was gathered around the waistband but I didn’t think my thread would be strong enough to gather it, nor did I want the bulk. So I made two inch wide pleats instead. I first considered making a waistband but thought of a quicker way, since this was supposed to be a quickie petticoat. I used a length of one inch wide grosgrain I had left from some packaging, folded it in half and pinned it onto the top, then topstitched through both layers. *I would recommend using a heavy duty needle in your sewing machine. This is pretty bulky.*
I left the back open so it was like a big apron. I just turned the edges under on the ends, and turned up an inch along the bottom for my hem.  It took me about two hours to make this.
It’s got a nice stiffness to it, and yes, it’s already been washed. I actually like this better than my corded petticoat now.  It’s not something I’d like to show off as it’s a rough finish but will you just look at it! It’s awesome!
Update on my little girl, Chloe:  She’s getting a good appetite back and even though I have to fill her dish a couple times a day, I will do it. We need to get her weight back up. She lost 2 of her 8 lbs. Her eyes are clear, and starting to get into her old patterns again. Still sleeps a lot but then she always did.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Reports of the CoCo Tornado Hitting So. California!

*A tongue-in-cheek post as the countdown begins to Costume College*
Around this time of year, about a month before Costume College begins in Woodland Hills, tornados begin showing up in sewing rooms and spaces all over Southern California and spread to the rest of the state and eventually to the entire US! Reports are even coming in from other countries!
The scattering of fabrics and patterns, pins on the floor, and the violence and stress it causes is so overwhelming that it causes many tears and throwing of things, and yes, even rants and disputes in the affected households. Cats normally complacent, observing and helping the sewers suddenly run and hide in fear. Stalwart dogs even learn to stay at bay.
Reports have come in of multiple rooms being struck, and off-shoots disrupting other plans and projects are also occurring.

The aftermath isn’t pretty and may take weeks or months, some say years or never, to clean up and recover. This is what my sewing room looked like while four projects, along with hats, were in progress. I can’t tell where one project begins, and another one ends.

Friends have been sending in photos captured at the moment of massive upheavals in their working areas. Jennifer wasn’t hit quite as bad as others closer to the coast are reporting. But she said it’s going to get worse over the weekend.

Tonya said she cleaned up a bit already. But if we know her, that won’t last long.

Cindy was able to make a small path to check out her damage. She found things buried among debris and is wasting no time getting back into her routine. 
Sarah reports some confusion as everything was pushed into one corner. But she’s making progress once again.

Hearing from Joyce, everything was shoved into the kitchen.   It seems to be a good place to continue sewing and maybe get dinner done at the same time.
Finally heard from Birda, as she had to dig herself out from under the piles! Apparently things scattered all around her house.
Latest reports are: it’s going to get worse! As the date gets closer, no one will be getting any sleep and only noises will be heard from dark corners underneath all the fabrics. Families will have to fend for themselves for meals.  *You know who you are!*
**According to recent updates, it has gotten worse. Today more photos were sent in showing further disaster zones. 
Sally said she's been working up a storm, so she hadn't even noticed anything different until she saw this report. 
Janet  left for a few hours and on her return wasn't able to find the dress she had been working on. I don't even see her sewing machine in there. 
But then suddenly, out of the confusion and darkness, comes beauty! At Costume College you will see all the lovely things that were made during this stressful time of year and you may never have believed that this is where it came from. But I wanted to share with everyone what the creative process looks like, and that you too are not alone in this mass confusion the two months before CoCo.
And I have to share a quote from my hubby when I was so deep in misery looking at all my piles and messes about my room. “Yes, that’s the way you work. But in the end you’ll make something beautiful.”
I want to thank those that have continued sending prayers and good wishes to my Sewing Kitty, Chloe. These photos are from three days ago. This is all part of the massive viral infection she had. She continues to improve although had some scary setbacks this week that scared her mommy but when your cat yells at you loudly for breakfast, I consider that a good sign of recovery. A couple days later her eyes are completely clear and she has started to take tentative steps herself outside. 


Friday, June 20, 2014

Planning for the 1915 Centennial in Balboa Park

Half the fun in making costume is the planning and researching, or so I think. Ok, most of the time that’s the easy part, or so I think. But The Squirrel really enjoys this part.
Next year our San Diego Balboa Park is celebrating the Centennial of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, and ever since we heard about it our guild is happily planning to join in and wear costume of the period. The planners are ecstatic about us doing that too. I know it’s a year away but many of us need that time to get ‘er done. A tentative date is for April 11-12, 2015.

Besides having many photos of gowns from that era in my files already, I’ve been searching Pinterest for other ideas.  I’m on the fence between 4 different ideas so here is what I’m thinking so far:

Patterns that might be used are these: the Decades of Style #1601 & Simplicity 8474 are both out of print but I have them in my stash.
These are possibilities from the 1915 collection at Past Patterns.
I originally wanted to make my dress with an orange and white color because I want to use my orange parasol so bad! But the chances of finding the right fabric is slim. 

I have this green striped cotton in my stash and it’s such a nice Spring color so I’m leaning towards it and the parasol will still look good with it. So far it looks like I’ll be doing a green jumper with a white blouse style. And I’ll be playing with different accessories and hats too. Ooooh!
But knowing The Squirrel, things may change in the next year. 
In the meantime I’m trying to get back into finishing my two 1830s dresses and get started on my 1910 Black Ascot, all of which are needed for Costume College, which I only have six weeks left to finish them. I started hemming the 1830s Midnight Mourning gown last night, and as soon as I can get my hubby out of bed, I’ll be able to start cutting my 1910 gown on it.

Monday, June 16, 2014


On Saturday, June 14, members of our costume guild were requested to join in the 200th anniversary celebration of the Star Spangled Banner on Flag Day onboard the USS Midway Museum in San Diego. Costumes requested were 1814 (the year of the song) and red, white, and blue. A few costumes also included the Georgian period and various ones that included the colors. We were quite colorful!

Down below in the mid-deck of the ship, where the museum displays are, was decorated for the celebration. After taking numerous photos of ourselves, we gathered in front of the main display for a large group photo that we haven’t had a chance to do in a long time. It looked like there was about 50 of us.
Then the program began by the Mountain Fife and Drum Corp gathering there to play old battle and dance music, and we formed a line along the sides of them. When they concluded, they marched, still playing, down the deck and up the stairs to the upper hanger deck with our group parading behind them. I’d love to have seen a full view of the whole procession because it must have been impressive! As we were walking up the stairs with the drums playing ahead of us, it sent chills down my back. Kinda of felt like going into battle.

Outside on the hanger deck, the band continued playing, there was cannon fire, and muskets shot off during the ceremonies and presentations, which included presenting the Midway with a reproduction of the original flag flown on the USS Constitution and raising it up on the yardarm.

And there were fly-overs by Navy planes.
At the stern of the ship, there was a bench that some of the ladies took a break on, and it became a photo-op for the public. We had many photos taken here by the visitors to the museum.

I wore a previous costume for this, a white sheer cotton voile using LaMode Bagatelle’s pattern.
My bodiced petticoat was made using their pattern, and then I made the dress with the same pattern having a drawstring neckline and waist but raised the neckline an inch. My open robe was a Frankenpattern using Butterick 4890. I had extended the front and elongated it under the bust to become a belt. Then I added elbow length sleeves and shortened the skirt.
All I had to do this time for my costume was have a new bonnet. The base was made by Cat.
Minerva Manx etsy  and I finished up the trim. I had made mine rather simple but after seeing the other ones that Cat trimmed, I’m thinking it may get more if I wear it again. We talked a bit about maybe having an Empire/Directoire-era tea so we could dress up again.

These are a couple others that she did for herself and Birda.  

These two were made by April for her and Cindy.

And so many other pretty hats and dresses, and uniforms.

 My thanks to Jerry Abuan for again taking some beautiful photos of us. To see all his photos of everyone and the event, go to his website here.