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.


Monday, December 31, 2018

SoCal Dickens at Winterfest Fashion Show

I thought my blog was done for the year but this past weekend I was in a fashion show put on by CGW (Costumers Guild West) at the brand spanking new Dickens Village in Costa Mesa, CA. I want to get the word out about this event so everyone can plan for it next year. The Winterfest there has gone on for years but this year a new addition of Dickens Village was added. It runs for 18 days, ending on January 6. They also have a Facebook page. Some of the CGW members took on the mantle of managing, planning, and running the events and demonstrations at the Dickens Village there. Many of us have visited the Great Dickens Fair in San Francisco, which is a huge indoor event and recreates the streets of old London and the many shops, along with all the Dickens characters. I’ve been there about 5 times but it is a long trek during a busy time of year and I’ve missed it the last 3 years now. So, it was exciting to all of us costumers to hear about this.

One of the events was going to be a fashion show with costumes from 1830-1870, the Dickens time period, on December 29. The planner and narrator, Mela Hoyt-Heydon, asked me if I could be in it. I love being in fashion shows and being able to wear my costumes more. So, I threw in my 1837 Turquoise & Cranberry dress to the schedule.
The event is held in the Orange County Fairgrounds, and when I arrived, it seemed very much like any other fair but I could see there were many huge Christmas and holiday decorations ready to light up when the day began to darken. The event begins at either noon or 2pm, depending on the day, and goes until 11pm. I think on New Years Eve it goes even later. It was nice not having to leave at the crack of dawn for the two hour drive up there. There are also Winter-type rides, like a snow slide and an ice-skating rink.
The inside of the Dickens Village had similar storefront facades like the SF one has. I took these photos just as it was starting to open. The shops weren’t too focused on Dickens-type items, more like things you find at Renaissance fairs, but they did have a hat shop and a kilt shop, and some costumed Dickens characters. I hope next year the focus is more on costumes and Dickens-related items. There were demonstrations of weaving, lace-making & spinning (Priscilla), and sewing (Shelley Peters), and a display of historical reproduction gowns made by the coordinator of the Dickens event, Lana Lily.

Our fashion show began with Mela telling the history of each dress and all our accessories. She didn’t read a narrative but uses her own historical knowledge to talk about our outfits, just getting basic information from us on what we’re wearing. I could never do a show like that myself but we all have our own styles.

I was the first one out, and later I went back out to help dress one model from her underpinnings out. This is always a favorite at fashion shows. Mela told us not to expect too big a crowd since it was it’s first year but I think there was about 30 in the audience at our 1:30 show, and just barely 20 at the 3:30 show. We had lots of photos being taken, including this from photographer Andy of The Shotwell Collection. 
My friends, Jody & Tracey, also took photos and shared them with me. And yes, I showed off my quilted petticoat at Mela’s request to show our underpinnings.

We had a father and son go out, where he made both their costumes. Our other models were Priscilla, Shelley, Trudy, Colleen, Nancy & Russell, and Diane. 

Here we are helping Diane dress from the underpinnings out, with her three petticoats, and into her Victorian day dress. 

After the first show, I met up with friends Jody & Evah for tea at Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe. It’s the same company that does the SF Dickens venue, and also give out a souvenir teapot. But we went to the earlier Plaid Hatter Tea which didn’t include that. We were entertained by the Plaid Hatter, along with Alice, while we had our tea. I thought the scones a bit hard, as was the fruit tart, but both the sandwiches and tea were very good. 
Jody even had a visit from Mr. Scrooge, who offered her a loan with questionable terms.
After the final show, we all realized many of us were wearing blue gowns, and Tracey took a photo of us all. Maybe next year we should send a memo out about color?
 I didn’t take any photos of the outside area but these two are from Trudy. 

I hope the word gets out about this new event. There’s still time to visit before it closes Jan 6. Check different ticket sellers for discount prices rather than pay full price if you can. Or consider next year volunteering as an extra in costume for passes. 
                                   Happy New Year!    ~~~Val~~~


  1. That's so amazing! I love what can be done with a bigger population base. I hope it grows for next year xo

    1. Thank you, Maryanne. Hopefully as more people hear about it, the attendance will increase next year. At first we were a little suspicious of it too.
      Happy New Year! -Val


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