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.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Yesterday was one of those days that reaffirms what you do is welcome, appreciated, fills you with pride, and above all inspiring you on to new heights. I speak of a simple fashion show with an appreciative audience and a great set of models. We all need approval, pats on the back, and compliments to tell us what we do and the gowns we work so hard to create are amazing. And that encouragement is what keeps us going. *takes a bow*

We returned home last night exhausted after doing two fashion shows for the annual fund raising Victorian tea of the Alpine (CA) Women’s Club. It was the centennial celebration of their Women’s Club in a building built in 1899. Previous fund raisers have done much to repair and renovate the old building, most recently the new landscaping in front of it. I was told the ladies had to deal with powerful winds and high temperatures while planting flowers in the flower beds. But in the end it was very refreshing to look at.
My theme for this show was Fashions through Time: 1810-1910. I originally started with 12 models, one of them a man, plus our narrator and a gentleman escort. Sadly a few days before the show we lost our man due to travel, and one model due to health issues. You were both missed. But I still had most of the decades covered and we carried on.

I showed up at the clubhouse the day before to bring two dress forms I brought to decorate the stage, both dressed in underpinnings that Shelley Peters and I provided to show the audience what was worn under our gowns. When I arrived, the ladies of the women’s club were busy ironing all the tablecloths for the tea and their set decorator was putting up greenery and flowers on the stage for us. It’s a small stage and our show was only to be 30 minutes long so it was perfect for our needs.
On the day of the show the weather had started to drop down from the 90-100 degree temperatures but was still warm with a good breeze that helped a bit. The room was air-conditioned, and we had our own a/c unit on the stage too. My models in chronological order were 1810- Birda Nichols, 1837- Mary Drobnis (wearing my teal and cranberry gown), 1858- Shelley Peters, 1860s- Catherine Frazier, 1875- Cindy Piselli, 1880- Lynn Adams, 1883- Dyan Paquette, 1884- Deana Sommerville, 1896- me (in my Seaside gown), 1905- Diana Marquez.  
Nancy Smith, our narrator, stood on the left side of the stage and each of us were brought out individually by Russell Smith, our escort. When we finished he would come out with the next model and walk the other one back out. In the end Russell was also requested to do a turn on the stage, which he gladly obliged us. As our finale, we all returned back on the stage for group photos.
Then we came down the stairs onto the main floor and walked among the tables for about 15 minutes. A lot of the guests were dressed in Victorian costume too and they were all thrilled to get close-up views of our dresses, and I have to say the compliments we were receiving were downright amazing. Some shared memories of a similar dress worn by their mothers or grandmothers. We began hearing requests of please come back next year.

At the end we all stood back up front where the President, Carlette, gave us a formal thank you and said we’re hoping you will return again next year as this is the best show we’ve ever had. She put the microphone in front of me and I said yes, we’d love to. And that got loud applause. Other comments heard was the best show in the hundred years they’ve been operating (ok, one lady was close to that age) and another was the best show she’d seen in the 21 years she’s been coming.
We started gathering outside as people were leaving and had multiple photos taken of us on the front porch. I believe the lady on the lower left in orange is Karen, a new member of our guild who hasn’t been able to attend any meetings or events yet, but she’s a member of the Women’s Club and helped serve at the tea.

After all the ladies from the first seating had left, a couple tables were set up for us and we had our own afternoon tea.

Then we had an hour to rest before the next seating and our show. So we gathered back on the stage behind the curtains with chairs and chattered away.


While I was taking a photo of the ladies waiting outside to go onto the stage, I caught a woman wearing white walking by in the background who was so surprised to see us, and she pulled out her camera to start taking our photos.
 Once again we repeated our performance for the next seating. And again received many many compliments on our gowns, and how impressed they were with our sewing and quality of time periods.
As I mentioned, we returned exhausted, hot, and yes, a little sweaty. This morning I woke and thought more about yesterday, and it all started to fill me with so much pride in a show so well done with all the models and narrator. And we were treated so well too. This made me feel rejuvenated and excited to get back to work on the many projects I have waiting. But in a couple days I’m going on a cruise so my imagination will be doing most of the work during that time.
       **Thank you to those who provided extra photos of our event**


  1. Just wonderful, what a glorious event. Thanks for sharing :)

    1. Thank you Kura. I love seeing fashion shows too. :)

  2. Sounds fun! The show I put on at my church went well too. A couple of weeks later and I'm still getting stopped by folks at church to tell me they liked it!

    1. I hope you get to share yours too, Wandabvictorian. I've been out of town w/ limited internet so I'll check your blog to see what's going on with you too.


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