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, November 18, 2013

Divas & Dandies; A Costume Walkabout

This last weekend was one of my favorite reoccurring SDCG events, Lady Mari’s Costumed Walkabouts at the Del Mar Antique Show. We’ve been doing this for about 6 years now, 2 or 3 times a year when the antique show is here. The “theme” is chosen by Mari and sometimes the show manager has a request. Apparently the most popular has been Steampunk, which we’ve done twice.

Our perk for doing this is we get in the show for free.  I love antique shows, finding little things to add to my costumes, and I love to play dress-up, so that’s why this is my favorite. The theme this time was “Divas & Dandies” and was open to your interpretation. Many of us were a little perplexed by it but the outcome was fun. We had royalty, movie stars, famous people, favorite gowns & outfits, or whatever you could come up with. I arrived the same time as Bob M. and his Mom, who were dressed as Prince Albert & Queen Victoria.  I had chosen my 1795 blue & white open-robe gown and came as the Empress Josephine, so we made quite the entry. My outfit also made it easy to cover up my walking boot which I had to wear again after a reoccurrence of my chronic Achilles tendonitis three days ago. It also covered up a bit of the waddling as I walked.

I stopped by the Freedom Dogs booth to sit and visit, and one of the service dogs, J.J., really liked my gloves and started to chew on one.
While we gathered for our group photo that we always do, I took some random shots of everyone. 
We had some groups of reds & pinks, and some of blacks.

I thought Sandra D.’s 1910 dress she made was very pretty. Using a braided trim along the edges of the overskirt made it much easier to cover the hem edges. She used a sheer curtain fabric for the overdress, and wore a vintage buckle on her belt. 
The vendors also love having us and as we walk by they compliment us and ask what the theme is this time if it’s not obvious. Some of them really show an interest in what we do and sometimes have special items to show us. One of my favorite items I've purchased there in the past was a trolley token locket. The right side is spring-loaded and you would have pushed your pennies into it. I think I paid $10 for it. Another dealer was going to bring an old trolley token for me to put in it next time she was here but I haven’t seen her back since. I brought some little English sixpence coins from our recent trip that I’m going to put in it.

I also have had some great conversations with mourning jewelry sellers and explained to one of them how a certain piece of jewelry would have been worn. So the exchange of information is really fun. Yesterday I was talking to a regular dealer about some ornate skirt lifters he had, which are something I could get more use out of than the silver color bicycle/equestrian one I bought in England. He said to bring it in and maybe we could do a trade for one of his. Now that I think of it, he may have thought I meant it was real silver, not silver color. I can’t believe I didn’t even think of bringing in the couple things I bought over there to get some information on them.

I was looking for some black glass Victorian buttons this time for a couple projects I am working on. I looked at some at one dealer’s booth but he wanted $8 a piece for them, and that’s way more than I’ve paid before. After talking to another dealer, I found out she was a button collector and dealer but didn’t have any with her this time. She took my card and said she will be emailing me. I love making contacts like that! I still found  a couple little items to take home this time; a black plumed ostrich feather, a small white paper Christmas house I’m going to use for a vignette, and my favorite deal was this handle for a parasol that I plan on replacing a plastic one on a parasol I recently purchased. I only paid $5 for it. I think the curved handle is horn but I need that verified. The little tarnished metal cap above it had some surprises though. I saw some little stamps on it and pulled out a super duper magnifying glass and saw 6 different hallmarks stamped on it. One of them I recognized right away, an English lion, which told me this was sterling silver. After getting some help from a friend, I identified a couple others. The “i” said it was made in 1900, the small lion’s head said it was made in London. The maker’s mark, a double AA, has eluded me so far. All in all, a very happy purchase. I plan on cleaning up that silver and make it shiny.
Other than being a fun venue, it’s always very educational for me. And it was well worth the discomfort I had walking. I also got a LOT of compliments on my gown which made me forget how I was feeling.
**Thank you to Colleen B., Darlene R., & Jerry Abuan for the photos of me. More of Jerry's photos are here-**

Right now I’m working on a couple sewing projects, in my typical squirrely mode, and my next event is Dec 14 for our guild’s Holiday Dinner. The gown is almost done and will probably be the next blog entry I’ll be writing. 


  1. That' a lovely open-robe! Shows like this must be so much fun, especially in such a large group :)

    1. Thank you! I wish I had more options to wear it. It is a fun event, and I get to shop too. :)

  2. Oh my what a fun event Val!!! I am so jealous that you have so many things going on in your area!! You looked simply divine too!!!




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