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.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Spreading the Word about Costume College

October 23, 2013
Hi all, I just got back from Washington state and enjoying the cool weather there. It was a family trip but while I was there I was asked if I could take part in a panel presentation on the Costume College convention in Los Angeles for the Seattle-based costume guild SITU (Someplace in Time, Unlimited). It was to be presented by SITU in the auditorium at the Everett Library and was open to all costumers interested, and to the public. We would have a panel of 6 members who all had previous experience with CoCo that we could answer any questions, or share our experiences with the audience. I was the guest speaker.
I included a free day on our trip so I could travel over to Everett by ferry and car, and I was in costume the whole time. I chose to wear my 1890s Seaside dress since it didn't need a bustle and would be easier to pack and travel in. I did have to carry my straw boater in a bag on the plane because it was too fragile to pack. *Photos taken during the presentation are by Lady Victoria of SITU*
I still didn't get the blouse made I wanted for this so I needed a backup. At first I tried ordering one online but the one I wanted was out of stock, so I ordered my second choice but it was a thicker cotton and was really tight on the lower arms of my outside jacket. So I ended up wearing a 1905 blouse I'd made from a Truly Victorian pattern and took out the waistband and gathering of the pigeon bust so it could tuck in smoothly under my skirt. It was still a bit tight but do-able. I still plan on making a blouse for this dress but since the cold weather is starting to roll in, it won't be a priority for awhile. 

As I said, I wore this on the Washington ferries to go over the Juan de Fuca Straights and Puget Sound starting from the NW corner of WA. We drove up to Port Townsend, ferried our car over to Whidbey Island, and drove from Coupeville to the bottom of the island to Clinton where hubby dropped me off to walk onto the ferry to Mukilteo. He spent the day with friends on the island. It was foggy and cold, about 39d, but I wore my long black "modern" coat over my dress and I was very comfortable. But you could still see my skirts and boater hat, and I got a lot of curious and appreciative glances. I'm normally kind of shy walking around by myself in costume but being in a "seaside" dress I felt like I fit in with the location on the water. 
Joan H., from SITU, picked me up at the Mukilteo landing, and drove me up to her house to show me her sewing studio. I about fell on the floor when I saw it. My sewing room is a small bedroom that is starting to close in on me. Her's was a large downstairs portion of the house in an L-shape that goes way back. She had rows of clothing racks, maybe 8 of them, filled with her collection of costumes. This photo is the lower part of the "L". Across from them are shelves and tables. 
Then I started noticing how she stores things because even with a lot of space, it can still get out of hand. She had two ways of displaying her gloves---hanging on a line across the upper wall and from a tie rack hanging from the ceiling. 

Her collection of purses took up quite a bit of this wall. 
Her method for storing all her fabrics was what really impressed me. She had two large "bookcases" with divided shelves where each contained a rattan basket purchased from Ikea. Her fabrics were separated by color in each basket. 
From here we drove off to the Everett Library, where Joan and a couple other ladies set up the tables and chairs. The panelists table was up on the stage. They also had a tea set up for the attendees. 
Joan and I, and one member in the audience were the only ones in costume. Joan wore her new Aesthetic Reform gown that she made using purchases from the CoCo Marketplace and the Garment District during the tour. 
We all brought copies of previous CoCo student handbooks to share with everyone, and items purchased or made during it. Joan asked us individually about our experiences with the classes, the scheduling, the events, travel arrangements, food, and of course the costumes. We each discussed our favorite and least favorite classes too. I also strongly suggested they volunteer for at least two hours to get the feel of the event and get to know people easier.  And Joan was encouraging anyone to think about possibly being a teacher someday. The whole idea was to demystify the experience and encourage new attendees. It can be rather intimidating and I remember very well my first time attending in 2003. If you've been to Costume College, you may recognize some of these ladies on the panel.
I really enjoyed being part of this panel and sharing my own experiences and knowledge. I think I saw a few fires lit under a couple ladies for next year. 


  1. Really enjoyed this post.
    Rochelle, ATAA

  2. Good Report Val. I'm sure you all did light a few fires. I remember my first time, almost overwhelming.


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