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, June 7, 2017


Many of my readers have attended Costume College in the past, so you may know what I speak of. For those of you not familiar with Costume College, it’s NOT a college, but a costume convention held in Los Angeles each year. Fellow costumers offer voluntarily to teach other costumers. No one is paid to teach, or run the convention. So, it’s highly dependent on all of us to run it. 
It’s three days of classes, with a few events thrown in that we dress in costume for. In between classes, attendees may wander the halls and the small Marketplace in costume. Each year the planners come up with different main themes, and many attendees frantically start planning their next year’s wardrobe to match that. In reality, no one really has to follow the theme. Many of us march to different drummers and do our own thing, or wear what we already made for past events. In the past few years, the attendees themselves have created their own “mini-themes” rather than follow the set theme. Someone comes up with an idea, invites their friends, or others that are interested, whether it be by word of mouth or media groups, and they plan and create. Many of them have shown up at the Friday Night Social, while others have worn them for the Saturday Gala. This is helpful also if you’re rather shy around people and you can be in a group so you feel part of it. You also have to be willing to follow the theme idea if you want to be with them. It may be strict on the guidelines or loosey-goosey.
One year I had put on a mourning fashion show at CoCo (Costume College), and decided the next year to invite all the models and others interested to do a theme from it. It didn’t have to be a mourning dress, but primarily black. I called it The Murder of Crows. That one probably had the most involved because everyone has something in black.
The following year I picked polka dots. But it was not a good year for everyone to get things going on their dress. I did get mine done, a pink polka dot bustle dress, and it’s been one of my favorites so far. I think a couple others made one but we never managed to get together for a photo, and I haven’t seen any photos of their own to add to this. 
Last year I picked stripes as our mini-theme. Everyone loves stripes, as much as polka dots. I know there were some others who got their dress made, and we had all intentions of getting a group photo, but at some point, it all went to h*** in a handbasket. We started meeting out in the hallway outside the Friday Night Social room, and I heard a couple people say they were heading out to dinner first. Then I was told I needed to come back inside on the stage to be announced as the Assistant Dean for Costume College. So, we managed to get a couple quick photos of three of us, and that was it. Lynne and Karen also managed to get theirs to match the circus theme of the Friday Social too. Good coordination there, ladies!

In the past few years I’ve gotten photos of some other mini-themes I saw, although I know there probably a lot more. I either didn’t see them, didn’t hear of them, or never saw them all together as a group. That’s the hardest part of doing this. There’s so much going on and getting people coordinated at a convention is rather like, you know, herding cats.
In 2013, a group of ladies all bought the same fabric and each did a dress in a different decade. I think that’s a great idea and lots of fun.
In 2014 Game of Thrones was a big influence on costuming, and these ladies did a great job of them. 
In 2015, persimmon was the color theme, again an open field of time periods were made here.
This year I’m part of someone else’s theme, and it’s kind of fun to sit on the sidelines with it and still have an outfit to wear for the Friday Night Social. We’re sort of following the theme for the Social, Casino Royale -My Favorite Spy, but quite an easy one to make for many of us. We’ll be The Ladies of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. We all will be dressed pretty much the same and easy to spot at the Friday Social. Just look for the red velvet vests. I finished my own outfit for it the other day except for hemming the skirt. So that’s out of the way at least. I’ve been reading about other people’s plans for their own mini-themes but I don’t want to mention them because they may like having it as a surprise.

My brain was already planning a mini-theme for something else after I was inspired by someone else’s dress. But I’ve been pleaded with to put it on hold for next year. That doesn’t mean I won’t be gathering my fabrics and planning, and maybe sewing it long before then. Considering we have less than two months before CoCo, it’s probably not a good idea for me to start anything new for this year right now. But I’m going to get as much done before next year because I’ve been warned I won’t have as much time to sew once I’m the Dean. All I know is, I need to look good because people are going to be staring at me. EEK! That’s why I like to be part of a group. I blend in. Oh, wait, no. I HAVE been a peacock quite a few times. So maybe I do like to get noticed.

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