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.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014


I probably should have named this the Winter Bustle since I still have two months to go before I can even consider wearing my Autumn Bustle. Here in SoCal we can’t expect the weather to cool off until December. But at least it is done.  I think I may leave it on my dressform in my sewing room as long as possible because it’s just so bright and cheerful in here with it.

I took a couple photos of me wearing it as best I could so I could see it on me.  I really like the two sashes I put on each side. Because I’m twisting to take my side view photo the bodice looks like it’s wrinkled but it’s not. 
I am so happy with my watch pocket. This is the first gown I’ve put a visible one on. I made a pattern for it by tracing around my watch then drawing a U-shape around it giving it a 1/2 “ allowance with a little more on top. I folded & pinned  1/4“ under around it but you need some extra since the watch has some thickness that needs to fit in it. If your watch has a higher dome shape you need to allow for that. Then I slipped-stitched it to my bodice just slightly below my waist but where I could comfortably reach it.
I ended up using my “carnival” glass buttons on the front closure and ended up with four extra so am considering if adding them to the little lapels on the top are too much. Opinions? I’m thinking it might be too much. Or maybe it’s perfect.  These are just pinned on at the moment.  *See what happens when you sit back and keep staring at it? You keep wanting to do more. It’s like it won’t stop.*

And the butt in the back needed some finishing touches too. I was down to my last couple scraps of the copper taffeta and had just enough to make a long bow to attach to the peplum.
I really wanted to do this belt in front with a brooch and I may get *desperate/anal/obsessive* and sew a bunch of strips together to try and do this. I just may have enough of the bronze Dupioni that the rest of the bodice was made from to do it.
 In an attempt to stop the madness I let my brain start focusing on my next project which won’t be a total outfit, but just a 1770s short jacket to wear with my red petticoat I have. We have an 18th C. Picnic on the planning board for November in Balboa Park.  So on my planning table are these, all from my stash.  JP Ryan’s pattern with the laced up front, using one or both of these fabrics from Colonial Williamsburg I bought last year, to go over this red petticoat.  I’ll be all patriot again.




  1. Go for more buttons! The whole dress looks great.

  2. I think one button on each side would stand out nicely, not sure about two.

    I understand what you mean about So Cal weather, though. I'm working on a bunch of bustle era costumes for a group of friends and I to wear in November, and I'm praying it'll be cool enough for us to be comfortable.

    1. I agree about the buttons. I'm keeping my eyes open for some kind of soutache button/trim that I can use instead. At least its not something that needs doing right away.

  3. Oh what gorgeous colors for this gown! I LOVE is my favorite time of year so this dress makes me so happy! And laaaaaa!!! for your pocket watch! It is awesome!

    1. So I can expect to see a watch pocket on your gowns soon? :)

  4. The colors, the design, the buttons!! Perfect!

  5. Gorgeous, Val! Just Gorgeous!! The Goose


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