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, January 27, 2016


Still working on my 1853 Purple Fashion Print dress for next month’s Riverside Dickens Fest fashion show, and now for the Port Townsend (WA) Victorian Festival fashion show in March. It started coming together rather quickly, especially after I *finally* got the enthusiasm to put on my corset to try on the bodice to mark the button holes and see how my black lace point d’esprit overlay would look.

At the sewing workshop with Shelley P. last month, she had taken a really close look at my fashion print I was copying and noticed some black ruffles down the center front of the bodice, and around the armholes. Good eyes, Shelley! She determined it was a lace overlay of point d’esprit lace. To make it easy for me, she had some in her stock. 

Once I had my bodice sewn, sans the sleeves which will probably come last, my fingers felt itchy to start working on the lace. I figured the easiest thing to do was make it a vest, and not attached, so it could be removed and not worn if I didn’t want to. I used my same bodice pattern, but pinned the front darts in on the pattern before cutting it out. On all seams I only used a 1/4 inch seam allowance except for the shoulders. This gave me a bit of looseness instead of a tight fit.
**If you didn’t catch my edit on my previous post where I added that my lace collar had arrived from France, you can see it here. It’s not as large as I’d like, but it works.**
I cut 3 inch wide strips of the lace using a large ruler and white chalk to draw my lines on it to cut. The lace yardage was folded in half and wanted to shift. So I pinned the edges, and as each line was marked, added a couple more pins to keep it in line. After all strips were cut, I folded each in half lengthwise and ironed them. I sewed down the two raw edges 1/4 inch in to stabilize it, and then machine gathered it down the same line. I sewed the strips to the armholes lining the raw edge to the raw edge of them, and then folding it under to the inside and topstitched it all together. A lot of stitching on top of stitching but it made it nice and firm, and not stiff. For the front closure I turned under the edges of it then sewed the ruffles onto it, turning it under again, then topstitched it. On the neckline, I just turned under the edges and stitched, and along the bottom, turned the edges under to create a channel which I will run a 1/8 inch black ribbon through and tie it closed in the front. I plan on putting tiny black snaps in a few places down the front just to hold it closed. 
 Now that that’s out of the way, back to cartridge pleating the skirt. And start tracing out a pattern to make my tablier because I’m dying to try doing the trim on that.



  1. This is going to be beautiful when completed!

  2. Wow, Val! It will be amazingly beautiful!

  3. I love the lace and the overlay!

  4. Love the color and the overall design! Can not wait to see it all completed. Are you going to attempt the sleeve design as well? Very impressive!

    1. Trudy, I'm going to give it a shot. But first I'll finish the rest of the dress, and see how I'm doing for time. I haven't decided if I'll use a full sleeve and gather it up, or fake it by adding short bell sleeves on top of a straight sleeve.

  5. Oh Laaaaaa! This is going to look fabulous! I LOVE purple and black together!! Can't wait until it's finished!


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