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; Past President of the San Diego Costume Guild, member of Orange County Costume Guild, and a representative of the San Diego History Center. 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, June 17, 2019


I’m not totally back to sewing normality yet, as our halls and rooms are still full of boxes needing to be unpacked, but I needed a little normalcy in my life. With Costume College looming at the end of July, I just had to get going on the one dress I wanted to make, especially since I’d bought all the accessories for it, and fabric. Since the accessorized outfit will be a one-time wear, it needed to get made. My dress, however, is going to be able to be worn in in the future. That’s my thing. I won’t make a one-time only dress, especially with all the work and money that goes into it. This is turning out to be fun.
There are many theme-inspired groups on our Facebook page, and the one I liked was “Once Upon a Bustle”, a Disney-themed idea. Any bustle dress but made to follow a Disney character. My friend Cindy was originally going to be Cruella Deville from 101 Dalmatians. Since I had been saving a dress for inspiration, although from the 1890s, it gave me an idea of doing a “Dalmatian bustle”. I’d still like to make that 1890s dress someday though.

Prior to our moving, I got really industrious and came up with a plan to make my own dotted fabric since I couldn’t find any in the stores or online that were a light weight, like voile or linen. So I started planning on stamping quarter-sized dots on my fabric. I looked through my swatch book from Costume College for the linen that I thought would work, and decided on an Irish linen, which I bought from Em-Bee Fabrics in the LA Fabric District.
I did a lot of questioning from friends what the best paint was to use for this, and bought one bottle each of DecoArt Americana & So Soft black, and a bottle of Ceramcoat Delta Textile Medium. Both worked the same with the textile medium, although the Americana is cheaper. I bought a set of foam cylinders to do the stamping with and picked the quarter-size one to use.

I had 10 yards to stamp dots on so it was going to take a LOT of paint, and a LOT of time. Then I had to decide do I cut the pattern first, then stamp, or stamp the fabric, then cut? I decided on cut first. Before stamping, I did a lot of testing on strips of the fabric. I started out using too much paint, then not enough. I was getting worried, and I didn’t want to ruin my expensive fabric.
For one week I was having the inside of my house painted, and I *thought* this would be a good time to find a corner and just stamp away. But in reality, it was so chaotic here, that I couldn’t even concentrate, and I would have to keep being moved all over. So I gave up and binge-watched Game of Thrones from the beginning. Yeah, I’m bad. I’d only seen the first 3 seasons, and now all 7 seasons were over. It had been so long since I’d watched it, I decided to start at the beginning. And this time it made more sense and I was able to get a handle on all the wonderful characters.
People started posting about how many days were left until Costume College began. But I couldn’t get up the enthusiasm I’d had before to do all that stamping. And then I’d still need to sew it. *sigh* I still wanted this to happen though. I went back to look at some links Cindy had sent me from Amazon for fabrics and most were either too small of dots or a stiff type of fabric. I finally found one that was a cotton-polyester for $4 yard. I ordered it on a Monday and it arrived on Thursday!! It was so soft and perfect! 
Now some pressure was off. But I still couldn’t get to it because now I had to put my house in order after all that painting. It seemed like every time I emptied boxes in the hallway, hubby would bring more in from the garage. It was like a reverse Black Hole.
Meanwhile I decided to run away from home one day and went to a sewing workshop for the Dress a Girl program that Shelley Peters hosted. After hearing that the older girls just wanted long skirts, I had bought about 6 fabrics at the Walmart $3 sale and worked on my first one. Then over a week’s time I got 7 of them done. But now the serious sewing needs to begin.

This last week I finally began to feel a little less stressed, and laid the fabric out to be cut. I still don’t have my new cutting table assembled. Its in the garage somewhere. So I used my dining table. It still took about 4 days for me to get around to start cutting it.
I’d say I have about 35 days to work on this, especially since it looks like I might have to make a pair of 1920s white wide-leg pants to go with a Miss Fisher outfit I want to wear for the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries theme day. I made it even easier on myself with that and found a gorgeous long yellow knit jacket to use for it.  I just wished I could find the pants to buy. I’ve never made pants before, and my hip-hugger ones I made in class in high school doesn’t count. I have a black pair, and if I’m able to finish the black and white jacket I started, I would have a second outfit. Or just wear a teal knit jacket I have. Hmmmm… less work….

Back to my Dalmatian bustle: I wanted an 1870s polonaise that closed all the way down in the front and it seemed the easiest thing to do was use a previously-made pattern and shorten the polonaise, Truly Victorian #410. And I liked the style of the dresses from the series, The Buccaneers. I even have enough fabric to make a ruffle around the bottom.

Cutting began this weekend, and once that is all done, the sewing should go together pretty fast since I’ve made this about 5 times already. The accessories are what’s going to make this a Dalmatian bustle. Using the pictures from the book, I’m going to have a blue belt around the waist, and make a “dog collar” like Perdita's of blue ribbon with a small gold medallion I hope I can find at Michael’s.
Dog ears! I found this on etsy. Its cheap, and nicely made, and perfect for a one-time costume. A few months ago, I found this Disney Dalmatian stuffed animal for sale on ebay. So if its not REALLY obvious just what I am, LOL, this will help.

And if I have time, I bought some of this Disney Dalmatian fabric to make a simple tote to carry my class things in. We’ll see if that happens.
*Yesterday I got the skirt sewn together. But today I need to unpack some more boxes, so stay tuned.
                          Chloe, “Queen of the World”, surveying her domain.


  1. I love your Miss Fisher jacket! If you don't mind a shorter length in your wide leg pants, I've been living in the oceanside cropped wide leg pants from anthropologie. They've got a lovely vintage vibe and since they launched in plus sizes I've bought three pairs. They come in white. :) Well the store calls it cream, but unless I hold my pair up to something stark they read white enough to me!

    1. Thank you, I'll take a look at their website, but I do prefer the long ones for this. I have quite a few cropped pants, not wide leg tho. And what's up with all this cream? Does no one wear white anymore?


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