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, October 25, 2017


A couple months ago, one of my friends, Shelley Peters, of the Kansas Mercantile, contacted me about being in a fashion show for a new event in Oceanside. This would be the Grand Spanish-American War Reenactment and focused on the return of the soldiers in the 1890s. This would be its first year and with it being in close proximity to me (ok, an hour away), it was workable. And after I saw the location at the Oceanside Heritage Village Park, I was even more interested. AND I would get to wear one of my 1890s dresses, since we have so few chances to do that.
This is the description of the event from the site: The reenactment will consist of a military parade, volunteers such as the Rough Riders, Buffalo Soldiers, and the "1898" Mayor of Oceanside, will be there along with music horse-drawn carriage rides, and tours of the historical buildings. The Ice Cream Parlor will be open, and other food vendors will be present. The event would be held on September 30-31, 2017.  
The Village is in a small park with a collection of old buildings, many looking like shops and stores. In the center of the “town center”, surrounded by grass, is a beautiful white gazebo that bands play in. This was to be the “stage” for our fashion show, and we would walk around the pavement among the attendees.

According to the daily schedule, they would have an Exhibition of a Soldier’s Life, and military camps; a model train exhibit, a parade, a US Marine Corp Band, dignitaries and speachifications, and of course, a fashion show. That’s us! 

I missed seeing most of the event due to being extremely late in arriving to change into my costume for the fashion show. It wasn’t because I had the wrong location, due to the wrong street name being on the event page (because I’d already figured that out) but because I missed taking my exit.  If anyone is familiar with I-5 and Oceanside, if you miss your exit, you have to continue 14 miles passing Camp Pendelton, before you get to another exit to turn around. And I was almost driving on an empty gas tank by then. So after quickly gassing up, I managed to get to the event, sneaked into a back gate to unload, and get inside to change. During this time, friends drove my car up to the parking lot so it wouldn’t continue making that poor horse behind the carriage nervous who I had parked behind. I hoofed it out to the “town center” with five minutes to spare.
Our time period for the fashion show was the 1890s, of course. I had a couple options to wear, but chose my 1894 blue and white striped seaside dress because we were at the seaside. And it was much cooler to wear.
I’m extremely grateful to Nancy & Russell Smith, and Paige Patterson, for generously allowing me to use their photos for my blog, as we really want to help promote this event for next year. So please enjoy all these photos they took.

Shelley, who ran the fashion show, was also able to set up her Kansas Mercantile shop inside one of the buildings, and it was the perfect d├ęcor for all her goods. She was quite happy in there. 

Our fashion show was outdoors, with Shelley narrating from the gazebo. We walked out onto the pathway and around the courtyard with the audience seated around us, while Shelley read descriptions of our outfits, and details of the style of the 90s.

Our dress styles ranged from daytime, to leisure activities, to evening dress, and we even had three men join us. 

As I mentioned, I wore a dress I already had but got to bring my recently recovered parasol, and show it off. I also interacted with the audience, who asked questions.

I did have one minor foobah with my boater hat earlier, as the antique blue ribbon around the crown had started to shatter, so I tacked on some vintage flowers to cover that up. 

Hopefully next year the word will get out more about this event, and we’ll certainly come back. We plan on letting a lot of our costume and reenactor friends know about it. Shelley already told me she wants me to take over the fashion show so she can focus on her Mercantile shop.


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