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.


Saturday, September 1, 2018

Costume College 2018: 1795 Open Robe Dresses for day and evening

I already wrote about my preliminary researching and planning for my open robes to wear to Costume College in this earlier post.
A couple of my friends were also going to make them so we encouraged each other as the months passed to get them made. My big plans of having three versions to wear, two during the daytime, and one in the evening, didn’t really work out as well as I’d hoped. Of the three dresses, I can only say I liked my evening one in black velvet the best but it still wasn’t great. This was mostly because of a pattern/fitting issue with the white dress under it. And no one needs to remind me that we should always make a muslin to make sure it fits. I did have a muslin that fit but its also important that you grab the correct pattern piece when cutting out your fabric. And maybe try on the finished outfit? That turned out not possible as my hubby wasn’t around to help me into it. You really need a maid or dresser to get you into that drawstring neckline.

Let’s take a look at what my complaint is all about. I wore my fuchsia day version on Friday and that’s where I first noticed a problem with the dress. Here’s a good look at my issue. That evening this photo was taken at the Friday Night Social where I was making some announcements and introducing the new Dean for 2019. The shoulders on my dress kept falling off my shoulders no matter how many times I tugged it back up. Fortunately, my chemise WAS behaving itself so at least I didn’t have bare skin showing. It may have just looked like it had come loose or untied and was sliding off but earlier in the evening we had tried to tighten it and pin it but to no avail. It would not behave.

The rest of my evening wearing this was fun, especially hooking up with Cynthia who made her interpretation of the same dress from the same fashion plate I did. 
I added black embroidered netting along the hem of my skirt to copy the fashion plate. 

I wore my black stone Collett necklace and earrings I’d bought from Dames a la Mode last year that I picked specifically for this outfit knowing I would be making it. I also made my watchchain equipage aka chatelaine to hang on my belt, like in the fashion plate, after seeing how Cynthia made hers. Again, I used bead bits and strands of pearls I had, including a lightweight fake pocket watch, and some chains and beads I bought at Michaels. For not having ever made any jewelry, I think I did pretty good. 

I wore a wig that night that I had from another outfit, and wrapped it with a white scarf, added a pretty rhinestone star cluster hair comb, and later added some white feathers. 

And now onto my day wear. My shoes were pretty. There were the Mossimo brand that popped up at Target, Payless Shoes, and various sites, with a cording that laced through it. I changed that out to a ribbon and they were really comfortable. This is the only photo I have proof of that I wore one of my day dresses. You can just see part of the fuchsia robe on the lower right corner. And those are some of my theme ribbons I picked up in just one day that were being passed around. My first ribbon is of course the Dean. 

I received this pretty apricot & pink turban gifted to me from the CGW President, Mela Hoyt-Heydon, to wear with both my fuchsia and peach day dresses, and I at least got to wear it one day. 
This was kind of fun. I went back to my room that night and found out Mela had decorated my hotel room door for me. She brought back the banner “Party like a Royal” and a crown on my light fixture from England especially for me!

That Friday morning was when I discovered there was an issue with my dress when I put on my fuchsia linen open robe with the white dotted swiss dress to wear during the daytime. I had made both my white dresses at the same time, using the same pattern pieces so both ended up having the same problem. While trying to put the one on and not being able to get it to stay on my shoulders, I realized I had accidentally grabbed the pattern piece for my Regency bodiced petticoat, and not the bodice. The petticoat has a wider neckline and is lower in front. So, all the tugging in the world wouldn’t help. After spending the day walking around in my fuchsia open robe outfit, and being soaking wet at least three times (because I am a working Dean and not just swaning about), I gave up and changed to street clothes for the remainder of the weekend, except for the evening events.
So, the rest of the time I wore boring modern clothing, topped off by a tiara, but I was soooo much more comfortable and cooler, although I still worked up a lather a few times.
I found some time to do some shopping in the Marketplace at CoCo but didn’t have much time to really look. I picked up a hat I had ordered awhile back from Mela to go with a purple floral cotton voile bustle dress I’m going to start working on. And bought two yards of a vintage cotton fabric to make an Edwardian blouse with. 
I bought some ribbons from one new vendor I can use for hat trimming myself, and a little rosette that would have made a nice shoe trim if she’d had two of them. But it gives me an idea for future shoe trims. I also picked up some garnet grape earrings I’d ordered from a vendor back east who came to Costume College. It was nice saving on the shipping. Those will go with my purple voile dress too. 

From one of my favorite vendors who sells vintage items, I bought this inexpensive petticoat with beautiful lace on the hem in perfect condition, and it’s wearable.
My final day on Sunday was spent wearing my Regency bathrobe to the Sunday Royal Breakfast, which I missed seeing everyone since I was late, but I blinged it up appropriately for a royal visit by adding my sash and royal orders from the previous night’s Gala dress. My tiara was slightly askew, as fitting a late night out. 

That was a comfortable way to spend the day and show up for two classes until it was time to change for the Sunday Tea, “Queen Victoria’s Fancy Dress Tea”. The theme had us dressing up, maybe as famous people, ideas and inventions, such as the telegraph or electricity, Greek gods and goddesses, and objects. I went as The Chess Game, using my black 1830s dress I had and added checkerboard trims and an apron. I attached actual chess pieces to my neckline and to the vinyl crown I wore. I love being able to use my historical dresses to go with themes that they work into. There ended up being a couple people who also went as “board games”. 

I ended my evening up on that final day of Costume College by going to dinner across the street to PF Changs with some friends, and some new friends, and having my first full meal in 4 days. I came back to the hotel later that night, met up with some more friends in the lobby and had an impromptu meeting with some CGW Board members to discuss some issues, and finally made it back to my room to start packing. I finished mostly by 10:30pm and got a decent night’s sleep. Getting out of the hotel the next morning was a different story. Once again, my phone in the room wouldn’t work, which was a problem all weekend, and even though I went down the hallway to use a phone by the elevator to call for a bellman, no one ever got my message and I missed a meeting with the hotel manager to close out our event. It was like the Keystone Cops for about 2 hours but I finally was on the road, and made a stop in the Fabric District on the way home. It was just way too hot and humid to even spend much time there. After finding some fabric for a friend (more of the purple cotton voile that I’m using), and picking up some lavender linen I wanted, that will be made into a 1912 dress, I decided 2 hours in the heat was plenty and continued on home. 

Oh, and those two Regency dresses with the misbehaving necklines? Those have now been ripped out, and I will be cutting new bodices for them, this time using a bib-front pattern from Laughing Moon #126. And this one I can get into myself. We always say our projects are never done.