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. 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.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Starting Off the Holidays!

My plan this month was to attend as many holiday events as I could. I was able to squeeze in three within one week, but only two were in costume. And I was able to wear my Christmas dress from last year.

Last Wednesday I was again part of the vintage car Parade of Lights in El Cajon that we went to last year. The car owners decorate their rides with lots of Xmas lights and decorations. And there’s a party in the park on the route. I’m not sure why but the loudspeaker was playing mostly modern music with just a bit of Xmas thrown in; even when Santa passed by in the parade. I wanted more Xmas music!
We didn’t realize it was coming up so quickly until we looked it up on the internet just a day after Thanksgiving. It was going to be the following week, a week earlier than last year so we left a message in their office to see if they wanted us again. They did and were very happy we called them. They asked if we could have mainly Victorian or Dickens era gowns to create a Christmas mood.
It was also a little different this time as they wanted us to ride in the vintage cars instead of walking behind them, mostly because they didn’t get the permit to close down the street. It’s just a two block small town parade. But we weren’t thrilled with riding in cars that we wouldn’t be able to show off our gowns, and that’s why we were there. Then we saw the fire engine! Please please please can we ride on the fire engine? They agreed to let us do that.  
I wore my 1873 red and black checked gown that I’d made last year, and since it was going to be cold, wore my antique chenille cape, and black sealskin muff.

This was a group shot taken of us along with another western costume group that was there.

Cat, Karen, Trudy, Gina & I all climbed on the sides and back of the rig and to our delight found out Santa would be seated up there with us. Another gentleman who joined us brought his Dalmation with him too. Climbing up there, and down, wasn’t all that easy. The first step was about two feet off the ground and trying to be lady-like in a bustle gown took a lot of effort.

We were the tail end of the parade bringing Santa in with us and obviously were the most popular.
My mind is already thinking about putting white fur on a Christmas gown for next year.
My next event wasn’t in costume but was a holiday tea at Paris in a Cup tearoom in Old Town Orange (CA). I picked up my friend Martha and we really enjoyed the “Joyeux Noel” tea given by them. The owner said she really liked purple this year so the decorations were purple, white and silver. It was very pretty.
Our menus were held by little Eiffel Tower place card holders that were a keepsake for us. Later when I asked about buying 6 of them for an upcoming tea of my own, the owner said they didn’t have them for sale but gave me 6 as a gift.

                                                        Happy Holidays! 

My next holiday event was the Victorian Christmas Open House at Heritage House in Riverside (CA).

Heritage House is a beautiful historical home and my friends Tonya and Cindy are docents there, so we get the inside scoop on events. Tonya always asks us if we will come in period costume to them to add a special touch to the day. Our time period range was 1870s to 1920s but I think most of us were in the 1870s-90s with a couple other attendees in 1860s. I wore my 1873 red and black checked gown again and kept myself warm wearing a shawl. We were even approached by one docent who said we were dressed so nice that we really should come to the Dickens Festival in February as they love having historically well-dressed people come. We laughed and said we’ve been coming for years, and some of us are in the fashion show there.
Hot mulled cider and Christmas cookies were served, and Christmas ornaments were available to make. I joined in the ornament making & made a clove spiked orange that had been cut from one of the many orange trees in the area. I pinned red and green ribbons on it to hang it on our Xmas tree.
My friends Sally and Karen with their dapper gentlemen.
Some more of my friends, Sandy, Robert, Laura & Heather McNaughton, and Ivan.
We went on a tour inside the house and this was my first time to see the upstairs bedrooms which were very pretty. I mostly took photos of the Christmas decorations that really set off the house.

These are my friends Tonya and Cindy, both of whom are docents at the house.
I’d hoped to have my photo taken with Saint Nicholas who was wandering the gardens but the timing was never right. He was cute and very rustic looking.
I’m almost done with my holiday dress for this year. I only have 5 more days to finish it and wear to our guild’s holiday dinner on Saturday night. I’m having to deal with a few different issues on it not familiar to me on it but I always enjoy a challenge. And it helps when someone else has made it can help me out a bit. 


  1. Wonderful events! Everyone looks great. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Lovely post! Wishing you the most wonderful and happy Christmas ever!

    1. Thank you Mary. And a Happy Christmas to you too, and a bright New Year!

  3. Dear Val,
    You sure packed in the fun this month! Paris in a Teacup is such an elegant place...they were really kind to give you those placeholders.

    You all look so dapper you've got me close to thinking I "need" an 1880s ensemble. Gee, where to put that on the list?

    Very best and merry Christmas,


    1. Merry Christmas to you too, Natalie!
      My list is finish the current 1870s gown, then work more on my 1830s afterwards. There's also a 1910 in the future very soon. It never ends but always something to look forward too, and I think that's whats important.


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