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.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Final Days of December

Obviously the holidays have been my focus for the last month but I did do a bit of hand sewing in the evenings while watching some TV. I've been adding the last bit of trim to my Christmas Tartan dress that didn't get added in time. The black braid is being tacked onto the bottom edge of my bodice and along the front of my apron, all of which had the pale green beads already sewn on.
Yesterday while taking a break and stirring up some conversations on my Costume Pattern Review group on Facebook, I asked others if they got any patterns for Xmas or which ones did they want to buy, and then what projects did they have coming up. So it made me think about my plans are. Of course my mind first goes to pretty things. At the end of February is the annual Dickens Festival in Riverside (CA) and what I make, or made previously, usually gets worn in the fashion show. Two months ago I started an 1830s dress using Truly Victorian's pattern. 
The muslin from the pattern was already fitted to me, and I sewed part of the cotton bodice in a workshop. I couldn't decide which fabric I wanted to make first so I cut out both that I had. *Remember my "Assembly Line Method?*  After playing with the fabric a bit, the blue and cranberry wanted to be done first. I call it the Cranberry Floral since the cranberry is the color that draws me the most. It was purchased at Rosie’s Calico Cupboard in San Diego from their sale table. Rosie has a room full of historical fabrics that I can’t resist shopping in. The other was from Michael Levine’s in the Garment District. 
I have a couple antique belt buckles and belt buckle brooches I bought specifically for using on the belts for these gowns since I like doing my gowns in the later '30s style of collapsed sleeves and a belt at the waist. I'm going to try a solid color belt on them this time instead of the matching fabric. 

And then after seeing a fancy version in a fashion plate, my brain started going ding ding ding! That red one was just screaming at me to make it, little bows and lacy cuffs and all! 

 I decided against a red fabric but found a picture of a nice deep burgundy that would look good on me. After a trip to the Garment District was cancelled, I put it on hold since I needed to finish my Christmas Tartan dress. But yesterday my brain was able to relax and start thinking again and came back to that. I decided to check my stash first this time and pulled out a couple rolls of silk taffetas (some being the faux silk taffeta) and mulled over a jade green, a rust color, a dusty rose, a persimmon color (that actually had been picked out for me at Fabrics & Fabrics by friend Lynne), and a powdery blue. I'm finding at my age a darker color suits me better. So the Persimmon was born.
I think it will contrast very nicely with the white lace collar and cuffs. And I get the fun of making all those bows! *If you go back and look at the Truly Victorian pattern photo, I just noticed the bow it has on the back waistband. Squee!*
I will be wearing the cotton version most of the time and my Persimmon gown will be the show stopper at the fashion show. I'm thinking possibly the antique belt buckle I bought recently at the Paris flea market might go nicely with this gown. 

By the way, do you name your gowns? I started doing that a few years ago and it makes it easier for me to remember them rather than that green colored 1880 bustle.

Since this is Dickens Festival maybe a nice cap like this from David Copperfield will be cute with my Cranberry Floral since I'm portraying Betsey Trotwood.
But for the Persimmon, I HAVE to figure out how to make that turban on the fashion plate! It kind of looks like two rectangles of fabrics, narrower on the ends, pleated then turned over a framework. At first I thought to ask help in either making it or buying one but the more I look at it, the more it looks possible to make myself. I'll just have to come up with eye-popping colors to contrast withe the persimmon color.
And that reminds me; I need to do a costume review of 2013 to see what all I got done this year. I guess this isn't my last post of the year.


  1. Wowzers that's going to be a fantabulous gown! And what gorgeous buckles, both of them. I can't wait to see these dresses develop :)

    1. Thank you, MrsC, I'm flattered. And I can hardly wait to start working on them.

  2. Ooh, love it! I may have help for you with the turban. It reminds me of something I saw on the Threads Magazine website. Here's the link:

    Doesn't that edging remind you of the turban?

    Can't wait to see your finished projects!

    By the way, I tried my first Truly Victorian pattern based on your reviews. I loved it, and have bought more. Now to find the time to sew for myself! I keep finding new projects for the grand kids that seem more practical with my limited time. But every time I look at your blog I'm re-inspired! Thank you!

    1. Ahh, Becky, thank you!
      I think this may be a different type of pleating but what an interesting kind of pleating. I'm sharing this with my costume friends because I think it would be interesting to use on a gown, or a hat.


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