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. most of the time. And I want to share with others what I learn along the way. **You can find me on Facebook, or have my posts delivered to your email by signing up at the lower part of the right column.**

About Me

My photo
HI, my name is Val. I'm a member of Costumer's Guild West in Los Angeles, member & Past President of the San Diego Costume Guild, member of Orange County Costume Guild, a representative of the San Diego History Center, & an honorary member of SITU (Someplace in Time, Unlimited) in Seattle. This year I am the Dean of Costume College 2018. I make my own historical costumes but don't sell any unless I get tired of one.The eras I've made so far are 1770 up to 1918. My favorite is the 1880s bustle.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What's on the planning table? 1930s-40s

Started Nov. 2011
With the theme track at Costume College 2012 of The Golden Age of Hollywood; 1930-1950, I have started to make my plans for a couple costumes for it. My preference is 30s & 40s but when the hem length was mid-calf. I have been skirting around these eras for a couple years, looking at patterns and hats, and vaguely at jewelry & shoes. I had little to no knowledge of them so I don’t really know what to look for. I’ve been to two vintage textile shows in Santa Monica and have been collecting some ideas of the look I wanted.
It all started with a hat.
My first purchase came from wanting one of these, a 1931 halo hat. I loved the look of the big halo in the back.

A few years ago at one of the vintage textile shows I found a 1940s one (on the left) that I fell in love with. And just recently found another (on the right) at a steal of a price at a local antique show.  I think it needs a little dressy up.
At the same vintage show while looking at some vintage dresses, a suit caught my eye and I decided that was what I’d like to make. I hoped to find a fabric in burgundy or purple, and it would go with my new hat. So with that in mind I started looking for accessories. Fortunately at this show the dealers know their stuff and when I asked to be shown some ‘30s jewelry they knew exactly what to show me. I found some Bakelite buttons and belt buckle to go with my planned suit.  At another show at Frock You in San Diego, I bought a pair of earrings to go with it, and a compact. From ebay I bought a cordite fabric purse w/ a clear Bakelite handle on it. I might even include one or more of my Stone Martin fox fur pieces. By then I’d also found my fabric, a plum colored lightweight wool/polyester blend. 

Shoes are going to be tough for me. I did buy this modern shoe that was similar to a vintage style but since my feet don’t like hard leather very much, it’s going to be hard.  I’m *dreaming* of buying this pair at ReMix in Los Angeles but my wallet has to be a bit fatter. They were extremely comfortable and soft.

With all these in hand, I started searching for THE pattern to make my suit from.  Of course most of the real vintage ones were tiny tiny, so my search had to be from reproduction ones. My final choice was this Vintage Vogue pattern #1019. Hey look, she even has a halo hat. It’s dated as 1947.  I also have Butterick  #6759, a 1948 Retro design.
Living in Southern CA, there’s only a few possibilies to wear something as warm as this suit. So my next search was for dresses that could be worn in the daytime. I don’t dance or go to balls, and I wanted them to be casual dressy. My first bit of education was fabric colors & designs. Learning the designs on the fabrics was fun because there are many actual pieces of clothing still in existence. I was even able to see some in person and touch them in stores where they were sold. Way out of my price range, I might add. I loved this one I found in a store in Old Town Orange, CA. It’s 1930s, rayon/cotton, & IT FIT ME. But it’s $120. It looks very similar to a 1935 one in a Sears catalog I bought.  

Then the pattern search was on. I came up with all these I was able to buy.


Next up was fabric search. I’ve already started sewing the black and white floral using the Simplicity 9360 pattern. And I bought a red belt for it, along with some red buttons for trim, and a cute red chenille flower pin, as long as it’s not too heavy for the flimsy fabric.  The brown and green plaid will be using the vintage Art Deco #963 pattern. Depending on how that one turns out, I may also use the green with white flower rayon for another one. I’m taking a wait and see plan on making these. I have no idea how I’ll look in them and the fabrics are very inexpensive ($2-$3 yd) so I can experiment without breaking the bank. Did I mention all this fabric is flimsy? Quite a change for a costumer who’s gotten used to fabrics with more body and texture.

This last Simplicity #2387 pattern I’m saving to make my own version of the blue floral $120 dress I saw. The elusive fabric is out there somewhere.
And then there's the hair and makeup. That's a totally different animal to attack. I have very very short hair, so once again, I need wigs. And with a few of the youtube videos of doing vintage makeup, that will be fun to try.


  1. Fun! I'm totally in love with that green and brown plaid. *Swoon*

  2. Coming lately to your blog, I'm thoroughly enjoying your creations and can't wait to see what you come up with next!

  3. That Butterick 6759 pattern reminds me of a photo I once saw of my Mom and her friends. It so gorgeous! I think you are planning many lovely outfits my friend. Have fun.

  4. Thank you, Lauren. I'm excited about using it too.
    Welcome Shelley, and thank you. I love sharing, & reading other people's blogs about their sewing thought processes and ideas.
    Karen, you don't by any chance have any photos of your mom or grandma in that era clothes? I bet she'd love to see what I'm doing now. Last she saw us we were just playing dress-up.

  5. Love, love this era! Have fun! Actually 1920-1940's is my favorite eras. Love what you are starting with too.

  6. My favorite era! Oh, I cannot WAIT to see what you make. Also, I have given you a blog award; come check it out at

  7. Thank you, Nabby. I hope I live up to your expectations.


I would love to hear if this was any help to you. Pretty please!