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, September 3, 2017


I’m blaming this all on the hot Summer weather. For the past couple months, I have been starting and then setting aside a couple costume projects, but had to let all of them slide to the side when I had to focus on getting two of my dresses finished and done for Costume College. Normally once I’m home from that, I’m all afire on making new things, and sometimes reality says you need more underpinnings and petticoats. Bleh. Later.

I did come back from the convention with all kinds of ideas, primarily to fit my theme for Costume College next year, Dressing the Royals. I’d been saving photos for quite a while of what I wanted to make. One of those turned into a mini-theme some of us are doing next year. I was told to get as much of my costumes done now because once the planning starts full swing for next year’s CoCo, I won’t have much time. That’s about November and dramatically increases after that. I’m hoping that by having a lot of that planning already started way ahead of time, I may be able to survive without any new grey hairs.
My first couple weeks after CoCo have been spent shopping around for my Committee Teams for next year; trying to update all the job manuals (about 50 of them), so they’re ready for the new team; & learning how to use Gmail (which I already accidentally deleted a bunch of stuff and took two days to find it again).
The problem I’m having is focus. Yep, that’s the Squirrel Mode. I’m seeing all kinds of pretties I want to make, or go back and finish the white and moss green floral voile 1850s multi-tiered skirt and bodice I started last Spring. Or the 1890s plum walking suit. I’m going to be hunting for some green fabric for it, and black velvet ribbon to go along the bottom because one skirt panel ended up too short, and I had to add a bit of fabric at the bottom, so the ribbon will cover that up nicely.

Then I wanted to make a fluffy bustle dress from a purple floral cotton voile. This was about the time the weather started getting hot so those voiles were calling to me. I’ve got it cut out so it just needs doing. Annnnd, I made the bodice for a 1912 dress from a gorgeous jade green linen blend, but got stalled on the skirt. It was an odd construction, and my brain couldn’t focus too well just before CoCo. I may just try sewing it without reading the directions. Something to do with the side panel that part is basted and part of it not. Whuh? So it’s sitting in the corner along with the rest.  

In the midst of all that, I got a hankering for a seaside bustle dress after seeing some beautiful blue stripped fabrics, and got a great deal on some on etsy. I didn’t have the perfect white cotton I wanted to add with it so it wasn’t entirely stripes, so that put it on hold too. But now I have a white cotton jacquard that will work perfect with it.

That’s FIVE dresses I could be working on. So, you wonder, which one am I sewing on? None of them!  I came back from CoCo with new fabric from the L.A. Fabric District to make my dresses for NEXT YEAR’S CoCo. Black silk velvet, teal silk velvet, both of which I have never spent that much money on fabric before. The two velvet outfits are both easy to cut and sew, and still require an underdress, but it will be the finishing touches that will take a long time.
Another purchase of a clearance-priced (really cheap) of embroidered cream REAL silk and another of a very cheap embroidered burgundy polyester have ended up together. They weren’t originally meant to go together but while folding them up onto cardboard the other day, they just talked to one another and decided they need to be THE dress I was planning for next year. The cream portion of the dress I hope can someday be used for other outfits as long as I don’t have to permanently attach the burgundy to it, which is not my plan. And I haven’t a clue what pattern to use for the cream and burgundy outfit yet.
So, what does my squirrel-brain want to do? It wants to work on one of my other dresses I have cut out and make a bustle dress.
Maybe I should let Chloe decide? Nope, she can’t focus either.