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.


Sunday, June 19, 2016


Following on the steps of a definite CADD-mode (Costume Attention Deficit Disorder) instead of trying to finish just one dress for Costume College, I decided to work on all four that were in progress and work on each part whichever got my attention at the moment. True CADD at it’s best.

I’m finally getting around to finish my 1908 Directoire olive green & brown striped skirt and vest, and getting a blouse made for it. I first was cutting out a pleated silk voile a couple years ago for it, but after dealing with it slithering around my scissors, I tossed it in a bag in the closet. So with a deadline approaching and a mini-theme of a Stripey Parade at CoCo, I recut the blouse using a plain off-white cotton voile. But while digging around in my fabric stash, I came across that bag of pleated silk voile, and since it was already cut, I decided what the heck. It was a simple pattern, but when I started pulling out lace to bling it up, it started to make me smile. So we’re getting there.

My 1870s tea gown has taken up too much time and it too is finally getting some more work done on it. Still playing with lace accents and going back and forth with various ideas. The lace collar idea I had won't work with this. What I have is something that used to be on a blouse. And I just came up with another idea a few minutes ago. So back to the stash I go!  The multitude of buttons that this required (somewhere between 14-24 depending on how far down you want to go) had me roadblocked since our local stores don’t carry more than 9 or 12 matching buttons at a time. The idea of covering them was mindboggling. But the Stash came through for me again, with a bag of around 30 metal buttons I bought about 10 years ago at a RenFaire.  18 buttonholes and buttons later, that’s done. Except somehow I made 19 buttonholes. Oops. Now onto the hem and figure out that lace I want to try.

My grand finale is an 1897 evening dress that will be my “Wow” entry this year. At least in my head I’m hoping for that. I thought I had my waist belt all worked out but after pleating it all together, it’s just too bulky. Waaaay too bulky. So I’m unstitching it and will just make one flat layer of it. That one single item has been the death of me this year. This will be it’s 3rd version.
The high-waisted skirt went together fairly easily but the blouse and I are still at a standstill. It’s something I have to build from scratch and my ambitions include a gorgeous lace table runner as part of the trim.

And on the “third try is the charm”-table I'm remaking my bodice on my 1908 Marigold dress where I found a better lace in my stash to use for the neck insert and the sleeve cuff trim. And the hem got redone too. Turns out it was about four inches too short. I think my dressform must have taken a header and lost some of its height when I marked the hem. Or I shrunk. I’ve heard that happens as you get older.

There was another project in my head for CoCo this year but didn’t realize I had so many others in the “almost-done” stage that I could use.
But as we all know, this time of year, we’re all a bit mad.

Mother Nature is helping me stay inside and sew, because any minute now our thermometer is going to hit 100d, and if you believe the weather forecasters, will surpass that by 10 degrees or more tomorrow.