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, March 31, 2013

Port Townsend Victorian Festival fashion show 2013

March 23-24, 2013

This is their website Victorian Festival, and it was also listed on Events/ Port Townsend
I'm just getting back from a 2 week visit to Washington visiting my Mom where I was able to once again participate in the Victorian Festival in the seaside town of Port Townsend. I had been in the fashion show there last year, and was asked to return again this year if possible. All donations from the fashion show go to the Jefferson County Historical Society’s scholarship fund. So I combined my birthday trip to see my Mom with going to it. A few days before I left I packed up my two costumes I was bringing, along with all my underpinnings, hats, reticules, and parasol, and mailed them up to my Mom's house. Just for info, it cost me $30. Last year I had 3 costumes, et al, and it was $50. UPS said gas prices are lower now.
During the week prior to the Festival I was running around to different antique shops and thrift stores looking for any goodies, and also possibly finding a Singer Featherweight sewing machine to make it easier to carry to sewing workshops. I had expected to find them cheaper up here than San Diego, where they run between $275-$300. I was surprised to find them running $400-$450 due to the quilters going crazy hunting them down. And the shops were certainly taking advantage of that. So I pulled in my reins and will wait to go back hunting at home.
I did find a few nice things for what I think are still good prices up here. In a Port Angeles antique mall I found this black umbrella priced at $12 with a really nice curved Lucite handle and actually got it for a little under $9 with a sale in that booth. Since there was a possibility of rain during the festival I thought this would be good to use that with my costume since obviously a parasol wouldn't due.  Also I bought these two china plates for $5 each.
 A few days before the Festival I made a quick trip over to Port Townsend to shop before the crowds arrived. I usually find something good in the antique mall there but not as much as I did in the past. The first two things I found was a pair of old stock black Lisle socks/stockings. I think they'll go past my knees. And a thin pair of long brown leather gloves. There was also this black hatpin that looks like a little hat on it and I remember seeing it before. It was $10 and now I'm curious to find out the material it’s made from. And lastly was a very small pair of binoculars I can actually see from with my glasses that included a nice leather case with them.
At another store, April Fool & Penny Too, I saw this great black wool hat with the brim tilted up to a whacky size and a big bow on it. I'm sure its modern but it screamed Edwardian to me. And who doesn't need a wool paisley shawl for their costumes? The price was better than the acrylic one I'd bought back home. The color is kind of pink-ish.
I didn't have any luck at the couple thrift stores I went to however. 
On a couple days I managed to cut out and start sewing eight more little girl’s Civil War dresses. I didn’t have a lot of time this trip but it was nice to get a good beginning on them. 

On the day of the Victorian Festival I wore my red and black checked 1872 bustle gown, and my Mom and I stopped in on one of the first presentations of the day about Victorian men's clothing. I ran into my friend Joan Hemm and her friend Roma from Colorado and we were immediately taken aside by a photographer to take photos. They had a very interesting and beautiful antique hearse on display in the park and we had our photos taken there by everyone standing around.
 Then we went to the presentation given by Joan & Roma on her antique Madame Demorest patterns, and her experience with them on the Antiques Roadshow. She was very excited and her enthusiasm was catching. It was a lot of fun hearing her story. 

After grabbing a bite to eat at a '50s diner nearby we drove up to the First Presbyterian Church to get ready for the fashion show. My first gown I was wearing was my 1905 Pink Striped Cotton Voile, so I had to change out of my bustle gown. I hadn't worn this gown or the corset for it since last August and it was troublesome. The busk on my Edwardian S-bend corset was still very stiff, so I couldn't hook it in front. After 10 minutes of frustration, I finally asked one of the dressers, Kathy (thank you so much!) who unlaced my corset almost completely and we started from scratch.  I had a bum pad tied around my waist that went under it. After I finally was all dressed, Kathy couldn’t get my belt to stay snapped around me. It barely reached and then popped open. So we undid some buttons, pulled in the laces on my corset a little tighter, and tried again. Still pretty tight but she pinned a safety pin to hold my belt temporarily. Later while I was waiting to go onstage, I realized my bum pad was up too high on my bum and was caught in my waist so that was why my belt couldn’t go around the extra two inches. I don’t think I got quite the bump in it I should have with it being squished down so hard under the corset & belt. Oh well.
Finally I was dressed and went out to stand in line for my turn on stage. One of my friends was out in the audience in the front row so she sent me all the photos she took of everyone.
This was our stage in the church.
 After having my dress described by our narrator, JoAnn Bussa, I demonstrated the illusion the corset gives of an S-bend with the pooched out corset bust and fluffy corset cover with rows of lace under my blouse, and the bum pad in the back. I remembered to put my hand on my hip too. Yeah, and that bum pad that got caught under my belt? Not much poof there unfortunately.

There was a total of 20 models this year but not as many of them had to change into a second outfit so when I went backstage to change into my next one, there was only three ladies back there that I could take photos of. And once I changed and went back in line, I took a couple more of the models also waiting to go out.

The next outfit I wore was my 1872 Red & Black Bustle. The bustle I’d planned to wear under my skirt was kind of coming apart when I was packing so I had one I’d bought on ebay that was really huge under it. And it certainly was out there. Bustles in the early 70s were very large.

I carried one of my antique folding parasols and wore an antique black Bebe bonnet I’d recently bought. It’s pretty fragile so it will probably only be worn when I’m in fashion shows. This is the hat I wore. 

I uploaded all my photos I took in my online pbase album, plus the ones my friend took and gave me to put in it. Please enjoy looking at all the lovely ladies and handsome gentlemen who modeled with me this year.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Vista Civil War Weekend & the Dressmakers Shop

March 9-10, 2013

This past weekend I attended the Civil War reenactment at the Steam Engine Museum inVista, CA. I was part of the Historical Citizens Association, and we partially set up Oak Street with its shops. Due to bad weather our group was small. But we drew a lot of attention just the same. We were set up next to the sutlers tents which was perfect for a “main street”. We had a pretty good sized space with drop cloths and a large canvas overhead. A roped off picket fence surrounded us with a “door” in front, and a sign stating Mrs Cressman- Dressmaker, No. 69 Oak Street. 
 I was not Mrs.Cressman. That was Lana. I was Mrs. Ripper. I was set up near the door with my hand crank sewing machine and I drew in a lot of people curious of what I was doing. I had a completed dress hanging next to me to show them what I had sewed on my machine. Across from me Lana was cutting out fabrics and hand-sewing the lining into a top hat. Next to me was Paige who was demonstrating ink writing using a quill pen and writing to her husband away at war. And Trudy came to visit for the day. On one side of us was The Parlour, where ladies, Joanne and Annette, demonstrated games, calling cards and handcrafts. And on the other side arriving on Sunday, was Ginger and Mike of Sew Cranky Sewing Machines Sew Cranky They set up their machines to sell and demonstrate. Other friends stopped by during the day and we got to share some gossip and news. And I got my picture taken a few times.

One lady brought this adorable little sewing machine that reminded me of a child's machine but it was a real one. It was dated 1865 and does a chain stitch. She brought it back the next day for Mike at Sew Cranky to tune it up and show her how to work it.
On Saturday I wore my olive green 1860s dress which kept me warm but we were tromping through a lot of mud and my hems and boots brought a lot home with me. The next day proved to be sunny and drier and I wore my brown cotton Bloomer gown. I got a lot of stares and lots of compliments. One sutler even said she would love to wear one while she was working and would I be willing to make her one, and some for her to sell. I said I would think about it. I'm barely able to make my own gowns on time so I'm not sure I want to take that on. Making little girls dresses are a sideline and work well with demonstrating my sewing machine. I'm hoping I may have started a fashion trend however.
On Sunday afternoon we cleared the cutting table and I set out teapots and teacups I'd brought, along with some tea from Paris in a Cup tearoom called Perfumes of France, a fruity vanilla black tea. Other ladies brought cookies and fruit to the table, and we had a very nice afternoon tea, much to the delight of the public. Afterwards we played a fun game called, “Yesterday I bought...” and we took turns stating something we bought that was within reach. So “Yesterday I bought a new teapot”. “Yesterday I bought this new gown”. And so on, until we ran out of things we could “buy”. If you repeated anything someone else had bought, you were immediately out of the game. Next time I need to remember to have my sewing basket close and my pockets full of things.

I didn't leave the shop much except to visit a couple sutlers but we all enjoyed the afternoon of friendship and sharing with the public of what we do.

Thank you to Trudy, Jim Pool, and Darlene for a couple of these photos.

**In memory of my darling boy Rudy, who left the bonds of this earth on March 7, 2013. He was 11 years old and a truly loving kitty who is greatly missed.**