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.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017


*A Non-Historical How-To*
Quite by accident today, I was playing with some ribbon, trying to figure out how to create loops of ribbon to go in my 1830s hairstyle. That’s a wig I’m wearing, btw. They would need to be tall and stiff to stand up but the ribbon, unless it had wire in it, was pretty floppy. The Biedermeier period ran from 1815-1848 but you mostly see these hairstyles in the 1820s-30s.

I had saved a lot of photos showing the different way ribbons were used in the lady’s hair, caps, or on hats. Some were loops, others were trimmed off and artfully displayed. And they stood up like little soldiers! Maybe they used cornstarch, but I don't know.  

In the past, I had made loops of fabric to trim a hat but had wrapped the fabric around strips of buckram to hold them up. I knew there had to be another way to do this for hair.

The day before, I had been using some Mod Podge on another project, which is used to decoupage things, and dries mostly clear and pretty stiff. I wondered if by brushing this onto the ribbon might make it stiff and keep it in a loop without falling over. So I rubbed some on a small test piece, gently folded it and tacked the bottom ends with a straight pin, then patiently waited it to dry. While I was waiting, I also remembered I had a bottle of Stiffy, which can be used to stiffen fabric. I’ve used to it create a lace hat. So I did a second sample, and waited while they both dried.
BOTH worked quite well! I brushed the liquid on the insides of the ribbons so nothing would show on the outside. They both had a slight sheen after they dried. But you don’t see it on the outside. The Stiffy one is quite stiff, while the Mod Podge one has a bit of softness. But both will work fine for this. Also, the bottom ends of the ribbons stayed glued together so you may be able to run a hairpin through that to hold it onto your hair. 
Both these water-based products can be purchased at Michael’s Craft Stores. The Stiffy was $2.99; and I think the Mod Podge was $5.99.
So next time you want to stiffen up some ribbon, lace, or fabric, or other trims for your hats or hair, try them. But test it first on a bit of your ribbon or fabric.


  1. Well that's a brilliant idea Val! I so love your hair! It looks perfect on you! I may have to give the stiffy a try, just because I love the name!

    1. Thank you, Gina. I need to write another blog showing how I put them all together and attached to my wig. With my non-historical method, it was very easy to make them, and who knows, maybe I attached them the way they did back then.


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