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

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HI, my name is Val. I'm a member of Costumer's Guild West in Los Angeles, Dean Emeritus of 2018 Costume College; 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.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Wearing 1912 for the Titanic Artifact exhibit

Yesterday I pulled together all my accessories for my 1912 Pink Striped Day Dress, and wore it to the Titanic exhibit in Balboa Park, San Diego. After looking at antique photos, and photos collected from Downton Abbey for ideas, I wore my straw hat with pastel pink and blue flowers, a pearl necklace and drop pearl earrings, white crocheted gloves, white boots, and an antique Edwardian purse.  I like how it all came together.

The weather was beautiful that day and the museum’s white building stood out like a wedding cake.

As the other ladies started arriving we all took turns taking photos of each other.

The fun part was anticipating seeing three of us arriving in a dress made from the same pattern. Kate (of Madame Novice ), Liz, and I made them in different fabrics, did different collars, and placed our buttons in different spots. It took some people awhile to figure out it was the same pattern. And of course we were asked what pattern we had all used.
Suddenly it was time to go in at our appointed hour to the exhibit and I missed taking photos of all the other ladies. This photo was taken by Debbie B. and shows how pretty everyone looked. We had a few antique gowns but most were handmade.
 The Balboa Park exhibit is of artifacts brought back from the sunken ship and a small cross-section of what was recovered. It was mostly things like electrical sockets from the wall, lots of metal parts, vases, glass lamp shades, and lots of pottery, which held up very well in the watery conditions of 100 years. I found the most interesting were the personal items of the travelers; post cards, a tooth powder case and toothbrush, a jar of moisturizer still intact (gives us hope that it will do the same for our faces), a narrow gold rope chain necklace about 16”, a man’s small stick pin with a sapphire surrounded by diamonds, and a man’s pin-striped suit coat. Some things that were inside leather sachels held up very well because the leather didn’t deteriorate and allow water in. We didn’t see anything really fancy, and that may just have been because of what they were given to exhibit. Re-creations of the different class levels of rooms were displayed, and many of us thought 2nd class or even 3rd class didn’t look too bad. The beds were made of mahogany, not like the metal ones would be today. The menus for each class were displayed, and the simple food served to third class appealed to me more than the fancier first class. Ok, my lineage comes from Norwegian and German farmers.  And then there’s the wall of ice that you can reach out and touch, to try and get the feel of what it was like out there in the cold water and ice field where the Titanic went down. Other attendees had left hand prints and finger prints on it while trying to keep touching as long as they could before it became unbearable.
We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the exhibit so we had to wait until we came out the exit and were able to take more. This first group photo was taken by Debbie B. In the next photo, Glenda on the left is wearing an antique gown. Mary on the right in a gown she made.

 These next two from Cindy P.

This is my favorite shot of the day; digging for my cellphone that I had tucked into the top of my corset and it had fallen down into my bodice. With only having a small purse and no side pocket, I have no where to put my camera & cellphone. I need to come up with a better solution for that. I tried putting my cellphone into the outside pocket of my purse but the poor antique threads were rotted and broke. So I need to stitch that back together.

Later we split up into groups and went to various places for lunch. Ten of us went to the Museum Café by the Old Globe theatre for lunch, and afterwards took a group photo of us in the garden.
**Some final thoughts on this dress and my corset. I wore my Victorian corset since I don’t have the long lined Edwardian one made yet. As many of us know the Victorian one pushes all the fluff up and down out of the waist, and it has to go somewhere. When wearing Victorian gowns, the skirt is full so none of that is a problem. However with the closer fitting straight dresses of the late Edwardians and early ‘teens, that fluff will show.  My other 1903 one wouldn’t have worked since it has the same effect. So now I’m determined to make one of the long lined Edwardian ones, and have already printed out the pattern posted by Festive Attyre. With the help of a friend enlarging it and fitting me, I hope to have my new one in time to wear it next time with this dress. 


  1. i REALLY love this dress, val!! how fun to see three different outfits from the same pattern. just shows how people can interpret things differently based on their own creativity. what a lovely event!

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    1. Beautiful event and costumes. Love seeing how it all came together and the close up photo of your hat. So pretty. Looks like you couldn't of asked for a nicer day.

  3. So much fun. The one of you digging for your phone made me laugh!

  4. Your post came through while I was on the cruise and not very good at doing texting via phone, but I want to let you know your dress reminds me of an orginal that I wear that is pink and blue stripe. Looks like you had lots of fun, would have loved to have you group of lovely ladies with us on the ship. That would really blown them away, you are all so lovely.

    1. Thank you, Carolyn. I plan on wearing my dress to Costume College this year too.
      I would have loved to be on a "costume cruise" with you. Funny story- I wore a black "Titanic" outfit on a cruise one time during Halloween, planning on being The Ghost from the Titanic. I freaked out some people when I asked them how they were enjoying their cruise on the maiden voyage of the Titanic. :)

  5. Your hat and dress look lovely! My mom and I attended a Titanic tea on Saturday. I wore my Sense & Sensibility 1910s tea gown bridesmaid dress. Not quite suitable for day wear but it was fun and festive. It was especially fun to see the ladies in costume though none so accurate as yours.

    1. Thank you very much! I made the S&S gown a few years ago out of an embroidered cotton batiste "shower curtain". :D You can see it here. I think that pattern would be perfect for tea, and I'm sure yours looked very nice too.

  6. You look fantastic Val! I love your hat~ It looks like such a fun and meaningful event. I would have loved to come. Everyone looks as if they are indeed time traveling.


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