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, 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. 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, July 30, 2013

Countdown to Costume College 2013

July 30, 2013

Yes, it’s Tuesday, and I leave for Costume College  on Thursday morning.  I’ve been sewing like a madwoman. This will be the weekend I get to spend four days with hundreds of other people just as crazy as I am. And I do it all without catnip.                                                                                (Chloe loves her catnip.)
I’m in the usual “panic mode before CoCo” just like everyone else. I’ve been making lists upon lists; adding as I remember something else I need to bring. I have lists from last year but those are of items I normally bring for our room, or food I want to bring. I also make lists of what I’m planning to wear each day, and what accessories are needed for it. I’ve woken up with a start two times remembering something I forgot. Forgetting that black skirt would have made a VERY interesting costume this year, considering it’s a mourning gown and amid all that black, there would be my white petticoat minus its skirt.
I’m really excited about presenting the One Hundred Years of Mourning Fashion there. It’s going to be odd, presenting it in a classroom when we should be on a full stage but I think it will work. I have a couple new people, and am including Queen Victoria this time. And we have an Undertaker. I printed out programs for it to give to the students too. If any of you are there on Friday at 1:30pm, I hope you can make it.
This year I will only have two “new” dresses I made specifically for this event. My favorite so far has been my 1890s Seaside dress to wear to the Sunday Fantasy Tea. You would think this being my favorite that I would have worked on it till all parts were done and complete. Didn’t happen. The dress is done but I ran out of time to make the blouse so I’m substituting another blouse I already have.
Sneak peek: This is my 1890s Seaside dress but is not the blouse I’ll be wearing under it. *This is not the final photo of it completed. You’ll have to wait until I wear it.* And this is the vintage hat I re-trimmed with vintage ribbon.

My other dress for the UnGala dinner on Saturday night (where I join my friends who don’t go to the Gala) is a 1905 purple floral silk voile gown. I really wanted to go crazy with it, but I think it made me a little crazy instead. This is why I didn’t finish the Seaside dress. I decided I wanted to cut out the neckline after adding lace and velvet ribbons to it to make it an evening gown. Oye vey. I don’t think it came out TOO bad but photos on me will tell the story.

I used antique lace that was given to me on the V-neck insert, and on the cuffs. I also wanted to try sewing lengths of velvet ribbon to the skirt but didn’t have enough at this time, and time has run out. It will happen someday. I might try some little bows down the side seams, but that all depends on how much more crazy I want to make myself.
Since this is an evening dress, and hats weren’t worn in the evening *darn*, I had to come up with some kind of decoration for my hair/wig. I found one photo that I used as my inspiration and came up with this. I tried having the feathers hang on either side of my head but I would have spent the evening laughing at myself with feathers blowing in my mouth.

The rest of my wardrobe will consist of my black mourning dress for the fashion show; my blue plaid Natural Form dress, which has now evolved into an earlier bustle dress; and my white with black polka dot 1870s polonaise. These have all been worn before but never at Costume College, so they’re kind of new.
I plan on writing more details of my gowns, and how I made my headpiece but I still have some sewing to finish so I’m afraid I have to leave you hanging here for now. 


  1. Everything is lovely~Have a great time!

  2. Dear Val,

    OOOOh, the seaside dress is a duck, and I love the hat! Boaters are always so chic.

    Your headpiece for the Ungala is great. Will be excited to learn how you did it, especially that crescent moon shape.

    Any chance someone will take shots of your talk?

    Very best, and have a lovely time,


  3. Great post. Looking forward to hearing more after the Event.
    Rochelle, ATAA

  4. Here's hoping all of you have a wonderful time!! I look forward to seeing and reading about it all. Love the headpieces, Valarie.
    The Goose

  5. My ... you have been sewing up a storm! I wish I could see you wearing all this in person. I'll get back to costume college some day!! It was so fun.


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