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.


Friday, November 15, 2013

An 18th Century Picnic; Second Thoughts on My Gown

Last weekend our costume guild held an 18th Century Picnic in Balboa Park, San Diego. We’d been having nice weather so it was perfect for an outdoor event, although November can be bipolar sometimes. Heather was the organizer of the event and she chose a spot in the middle of the International Cottages, a group of small houses each representing a different country. As busy as it was elsewhere in the park, very few people walked through here. Also the cottages are only open on Sunday so that was to our benefit. We were able to have some quiet and eat our lunches without being distracted too much by the public. As much as I enjoy interacting with them, and taking photos, I don’t like having to stop eating each time they come through so I don't have food in my mouth.
We set up tables, chairs, and blankets scattered under the trees and enjoyed our potluck lunch where we all brought something to share and pass around. Heather even made up some recipes from a Martha Washington cookbook and brought mini meat pies and small Queen’s Cakes that tasted like little spice cakes with sugar sprinkled on top.    
We had lots of pretty gowns; a couple pretty floral robe ‘anglaises’, some very fancy gowns, and a couple Regencys. And we had our pirates. You can’t have an 18th C event without pirates.

I wore my 1770s linen red floral caraco and red skirt that I’d made back in 2009. It was my first attempt at historical colonial dress and I used Period Impressions pattern, which I think was very easy. Except later I discovered the waist was too short on me, and I’m even short-waisted. Each time I sat down or raised my arm it would ride up, exposing my stays above my skirt waistline. I’d forgotten about that until I put it on for this event and tried to accommodate for that by using safety pins to pin my skirt up higher on my stays. It worked in a pinch but I can see in my photos here that it’s just way too high. The last two caracos I made using J.P. Ryan’s patterns are a much better fit. I really like this red floral fabric and I think I saw some more last time I was in the Garment District so I can make a new one.

I always forget to look in a mirror when I get out of my car at an event and have to put on my hat there because it never seems to sit in the right place. I thought I was putting it on to keep the sun out of my eyes, and used my two hat pins but I spent the day looking like a woman of mystery, and had to tilt my head back when I was talking to someone. And no, it never occurred to me to unpin it and readjust.    

And this is always a fun photo, getting caught using your cell phone.  
We did our group photos and apparently attracted a lot of tourists at this point because they suddenly appeared out of nowhere and started jumping into our photos to take some of their own. I always wonder what the Japanese tourists, who we really enjoy, tell their friends when they get back home about us.

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