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.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

1850s turquoise plaid dress- My “Young Victoria” gown

I’m in the planning stages of a new project, and I always get really excited at this part of it. I am really hoping I’ll get this made in time to wear it in the Riverside (CA) Dickens Fair fashion show. It’s a month away and if the fitting goes well, there’s a chance I might be able to finish it. I plan on using a purchased bonnet I have so that won’t slow me down.
I was very impressed by the gowns in the recent movie of Young Victoria, about the young Queen of England. This led me to start searching for actual photos or drawings of gowns from the years around late 1840s to 1850s. I really liked the bell shape of the skirts at this time, and saw a couple with a deep V in the neckline, with a pretty chemisette under it. I was really excited when I came across this photo of Queen Victoria in 1845 holding the young Prince Edward. And she was wearing the deep V neck that I so liked. I can’t tell what color her gown is but it looks like a solid with no pattern design.

I knew I wanted mine made with a plaid after I saw this fashion print.It’s trim along the V-neck is scalloped and matches the scalloped tiers on the skirt.

And the clincher was this blue plaid. I love these sleeves with the lace ruffles and smaller sleeve sticking out on it. It’s similar to the green plaid but has a fringe as it’s trim along the V and the sleeves.

These are other versions of a similar dress, and also gives me ideas for hairstyles, which I’m going to try with a wig of long straight hair.

I saw this Simplicity 3855 pattern made up, and other than the very large pagoda sleeves, it was exactly what I wanted. And I found the silk taffeta plaid I thought would look good with it.

My skirt won’t be the same shape as this pattern, but a narrower bell shape which gets its shape from a corded petticoat under it. I may not have that done in time for the fashion show and I’m hoping my ruffled petticoat will support it enough until I get one made.


  1. The blue plaid would make a fantastic dress. Love all the vintage photos.

  2. ooo! This is going to be a lovely dress! I hadn't seen that Simplicity pattern before - is it new?

  3. No, it's not a new pattern but it is out of print. I came across some being sold here.

  4. I'm so glad I found your blog! How come I didn't know about you? I enjoyed seeing my stomping grounds in your post about Old Town! I was head docent for several years down the street at Whaley House and did a lot of their period clothing. Love the Johnson House, got many of my period clothing accessories there. I still step in and chat with Rachel. Very happy they've restored the Cosmopolitan Hotel, looks as though there will be many historic related events where people can wear their period clothing.

    I'm sort of out of the period clothing/living history loop now for a few years, I'm focusing on my historical doll making and dressing. Dolls don't complain if you accidentally prick them with a pin.

    Have a fun and fabulous New Year!

    Take Care,

  5. Love the old pictures and patterns. I think you must have a lot of fun searching for the right accessories and fabrics.


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