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

My photo
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.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

1850s Bloomer gown

Started Feb 2011/ Finished July 2011
This will be a short version about my Bloomer gown for now since I'll be presenting two mini workshops on it in the coming months for my two costume guilds. I've also been asked to do a class for next year's Costume College.
I started making this gown after "inheriting" an incomplete pattern from a friend. It had been copied off an 1851 extant gown in the San Diego History Museum. I contacted both the museum, and the pattern company, Past Patterns, about it. The museum gave me an appointment to come in and take photos of the gown which had been in storage. The museum requested I not publish those photos on the internet but can use them in slide shows for my classes. I emailed back and forth with Saundra Altman of Past Patterns, & telling her I wanted to recreate the gown. She got excited about finishing the pattern to put on the market. I spent months emailing back and forth with museums and historical societies in New York about the dress reform movement, and about Amelia Bloomer and the other ladies involved in the women's movement.  Bloomers were not originally designed by Amelia, but by Elizabeth Smith Miller, who Amelia credits them with. But Amelia earned the name from the newspapers, and it stuck.
I made mine in an avocado green silk taffeta, lined with cotton. I enjoyed learning how to do piping and a different technique for gathered ruching on it.

The skirt was about 4 inches below my knee, and the Bloomers are made of silk taffeta until about midway up my thighs, a period technique to save on the silk. The Bloomers are pleated around my ankles with a cuff that has more of the gathered ruching on it.
In the meantime Saundra Altman was slowly getting the pattern completed, hopefully in time for me to bring them to Costume College. She didn't make the cutoff date but did send me one so I could show it around, and let people sign up to buy one as soon as they're available before they go on the market. We're hoping for it in the next month or so. And I really hope to have them in time for my workshops. I'm even mentioned in the acknowledgements for helping her get this pattern done.

I really enjoyed wearing these. They were really comfortable and got a lot of attention. Three of my friends also made their own version and we met up at a specified time in the hotel lobby for a group photo.

I had nine ladies sign up to purchase the pattern when it's available, and one literally squealed when she saw it and is really anxious to get the pattern to make her own.
Now that I have this one under my belt, I have all kinds of ideas for a new one but made out of cotton for a day dress version, as this one was kind of dressy.

Photos from Costume College

Link to my photos -----          Costume College 2011 photo album
I took over 319 photos but had to delete quite a few taken during the Red Carpet walk prior to the Gala. People wouldn't stand still long enough for many of us to take photos. Such a shame. But I still got quite a lot.
Now that the madness is over for another year, all the new ideas are swirling around in my head for new projects. My next costume doesn't need to be done until Nov 1 for the Dia de los Muertos event. So in the meantime I can finally make my much needed corded petticoats for the 1830s & 50s gowns, plus the flounced and plain petticoats that go with them. I bought a ton of cotton organdy in the Garment District for these, at the recommendation of Jennifer Rosbrugh of Due to the number of petticoats needed, you don't want extra weight of regular cotton. Makes sense to me. And in the meantime it will be a nice change to work on a lot of white fabric instead of all the black.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Did you go to Costume College this year? I did!

If I met you, or you saw me, let me know here!
This is just a quick overview of my four costumes I wore. It will be awhile until I get all my photos resized to put in my album.
The first day I wore my 1872 Purple Polonaise, here with my friend, Cindy. I got a lot of compliments on it, and it remains one of my favorites.

Later that evening at the Ice Cream Social, I wore my 1850s Turquoise Plaid, and here again with my friend, Cindy. Me thinks I need something on top of my head, but not a bonnet.

The next day I wore my new Bloomer gown all day and into the evening for the Gala. Here with friends, Cat & Cindy. I had a couple ladies literally melting into a puddle of jelly when they saw my gown, and are excited to make them too. The pattern is almost ready to market but I was able to take pre-orders so they will get them before they go on the market.

Sunday was my La Belle Epoque Tea and I was completely happy with how it and my gown turned out.

Of course my favorite shot was from the back.
This is Shawn, my thoroughly obnoxious and snooty French Maitre d'.

I took lots of photos of the tea setup, and the greenery I brought into the room really made a difference.
I know I'll come across better shots as people post their photos. Mine don't always turn out well when I hand my camera to someone. But we did have a couple professional photographers there, so I have my hopes.
As I said, if I met you there, and you have photos, feel free to leave a link here so we all can see.