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.


Sunday, April 12, 2015


I’ve been home just a little over a week from my trip up to Port Townsend, WA, and the area surrounding it. I had a chance to check out the antique mall there, and one in Port Angeles but didn’t come away with much this time. I was only up there for two days before I dressed up in my Autumn Bustle to attend the Victorian Festival and be in the fashion show.
The day before that I drove up to Port Townsend to raid the antique mall before any crowds did. If you’ve been to the Festival in the past you now know there really aren’t many “crowds” but it is easier to shop in the small spaces and go downstairs not wearing a bustle.

One of my favorite booths there has all kinds of sewing notions and previously I’ve found lots of really great black glass buttons I’ve used in my costuming, or add to my stash for when I need them. In the past couple years the pickings have been less and less. I still found a group of seven 1/2" ones, and also a group of 17 small brass Victorian buttons. The design on them look like a group of flowers. These may likely be held onto for a seaside dress.

 I also collect unusual glass prisms from chandeliers that I hang on my Xmas trees. I usually get about 2-4 of the various styles, and surprisingly they do come in a variety of styles and sizes. Downstairs in one of the oversized locked cases is a multitude of them. Another lady was shopping there to make wind chimes with them and sell at craft shows. I’d love to have seen one, or possibly even bought one.
I also found this straw hat that I think I can use for my costume I'll be wearing in two weeks after I get home.
Afterwards my mom and I stopped at our favorite Thai restaurant and shortly after we sat down I began receiving texts from Gina W. ( her blog- Beauty from Ashes) that she was down the street having lunch with her mom, Lana. So afterwards I went out on the street corner to meet up with them. It was so windy I could barely stand still. I saw both of them coming down the street, just about to be lifted away by the wind if they’d had their hats on. Which they didn’t, as they would have lost them very quickly. They had decided to walk the town in costume and take photos around the area.
The next day I returned wearing my own Autumn Bustle dress and met up with them again where we had a photo shoot along the waterfront and wharf. It wasn’t quite as windy today but it was colder.

Afterwards I took them shopping at a local fiber arts store down the street that has a vintage button trunk show during the festival. They were both really excited and dug into baskets and trunks digging for treasures, which we did bring home some loot.

These were my purchases.

Later that day we all showed up at the church for the fashion show. This show raises money from the attendees donations for a scholarship to a deserving student in Jefferson County. This year we totally surpassed the previous year’s donations so I guess they liked us. J
As usual, since I’m in the show I can only take photos while backstage and just prior to going on. I did hand my camera to Vanessa W. when she arrived in the audience but forgot to tell her to take some of everyone. So all she got was me.
Here we are backstage getting ready, getting last minute information and lining up to go out. This was my friends, Gina W. and her mother, Lana’s, first time in the fashion show so I took a lot of photos of them. But when you see their gowns, you’ll understand why.

I loved seeing these Norwegian Bunad costumes, being of Norwegian descent myself. The little girl was just precious.

And of course there was the mad dash back and forth changing into another outfit but this year I made it easy on myself and just wore my one dress.    

There’s me on the stage. JoAnn asked the audience if they’d like to see my Imperial Bustle and how it worked so she lifted up my skirts to show how you lift and collapse it to sit down.

Afterwards we all returned to the stage for a group photo, which I really enjoy seeing us all together.

Friends Vanessa W. & Rebecca M. were in the audience. 
Later I helped with Gina W. doing her recreation of a painting. She copied her dress from a painting and recreated the whole setting. Loved those pleats and trims on the hem!

The next day I met up with Gina, Lana, and Rebecca, and invited JoAnn from the fashion show, to join us for afternoon tea at the Commander’s Beach House; another chance for us all to dress up, although this year I only brought my one dress. It’s getting expensive to ship it up, and on the way home I managed to cram it into a duffle bag, and only pay half the price to bring it home. This may be my new method.

Afterwards we all drove up to Fort Worden to do a photo shoot there and on the beach. Again it was extremely windy and we had a lot of wardrobe malfunctions. But it was a great place and a very dramatic day for taking photos.
We started out at the museum there, and then walked up the hill to The Castle. Not a very large castle, I might add. In fact, it’s only claim to fame is a single crenulated tower. These photos are courtesy of Gina W. who sent them to me. The gentleman with us was Rebecca’s beau.

We then headed down to the beach, which was even harder to walk through the sand and over the rocks with the wind trying to blow us away. These photos were by me.

We started rocking hunting along the shore and came up with some real beauties, along with some bits of white sea glass.

                             Final photo by Gina. What a lovely day.
One last photo: I didn't find as many things to add to my costumes this time but a trip to the antique mall in Port Angeles came up with this unusual hat. It's almost like two hats sewn together. The top of curly ostrich feathers is attached to a net covered wire frame that is attached to the top of the black velvet covered under hat. The silk inside the crown has shattered and it's loosing feathers. But I think it will be interesting to play with sometime.



  1. Its really nice to see photos from another area of the U.S. The shore photos are fantastic, even with the wind! Everyone was stunning and I liked the church venue for the show.

    1. This church has its good points and bad points. Beautiful setting, sometimes great lighting, but a permanent podium in the center of the stage that we have to walk around.

  2. Love, love the photos, especially the ones on the beach and the dock.
    Oh, seaglass, I want to find more there. Loved your idea for the crystals hanging on your Christmas tree. Sorry I had to miss the fashion show. Maybe next year.

    1. Oh, you should see the lights reflecting off the crystals at Xmas! It's magical!

  3. Val, you were such a wonderful lady to "hang out" with!! It was fun to be able to chat and get to know you in a very calm and charming atmosphere!!! I truly enjoyed our time together!!!

    1. Loved hanging out with you too! Still not enough time but makes it special.

  4. Stunning photography, a couple remind me of paintings. Always enjoy your travels and blog

    1. Thank you Carolyn. I loved reading about your costume travels too.


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