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.


Tuesday, February 12, 2019


In the past I’ve written a Year in Review of costumes I’ve made for the recent year. Its always good to remind yourself that you weren’t totally laying around doing nothing for a whole year. Well, sometimes you were. And you do need to do that sometimes. But you also need to give yourself a pat on the back for what you did accomplish. For many costume designers and makers, you NEED the compliments and accolades to keep you going. And it is a work of art, something that you created with your own hands. 
This morning I was comparing how many I used to make while I was working (one a year) and now ten years later after I retired. I actually started making my costumes in 2003. Sometimes I wondered how many exactly do I have in my closet, Space Bags, and clothes rack. And this is not counting the corsets, underpinnings, petticoats and bustles/hoops I have stored too. While we’ve been on our new house hunt, needing a one story instead of a two-story, we included on our “wish list”, an extra room or storage area that I can keep all my costumes plus a couple bookcases that would hold my bolts of fabrics, plus the big plastic tubs that hold all my patterns (5 right now but they’re ready to explode all over the place). That doesn’t even include my 20 hat boxes, or the various wigs on wig heads that take up a lot of room. As I’m typing this, I’m starting to feel like I need to buy a house just for all that.
I don’t feel I need to justify needing an additional room in our new house for this either. The hubby wants a big enough room for his 12-man poker group, which involves a large table, so this is my requirement. When you retire, your hobbies take a priority.
10 years ago, after I retired, I ended up selling most of my previous costumes, due to weight losses and gains, wanting a new improved version, or just wanting MORE in different colors and styles. Therefore, the closet stash of fabric grew.
I keep photo folders in my computer of all my costumes, broken up by the decades, so that seems to be the easiest way to share them too.

My earliest one, which I wore to a Renaissance Fair, was a early Carmelite nun outfit that I copied from a Catholic website showing them. I even fooled a lot of people thinking I really was a nun (I had to point out my lipstick), and a past nun told me I got it spot on. I don’t remember the date it was from but it was documented.  
 I have about 5, and 2 unfinished, from the 1700s. 

 A couple dresses and  morning robe from the Regency period, early 1800s.   

 One of my favorite time periods, the Romantic Period of the 1830s.   

 I haven’t made anything for the 1840s yet, mainly because I don’t like the squatty “cottage bonnets” they wore but I have a beautiful Turkey Red cotton for one just waiting for me to give in.
I started with Bloomer dresses of the 1850s and then went on to the later ones.

I’m not sure why but I only have one dress now from the 1860s. I sold my other one. I think I need to remedy that, especially since I have a gorgeous fabric for one.

I like the 1870s mainly because of the open square neckline options but don’t have the long waist that makes this time period look better.     

MY FAVORITE TIME PERIOD- the mid-1880s. Big bustles or go home!

The last couple years I made a foray into the 1890s, mostly around 1895 for the big sleeves.  

 Early 1900s, very comfy to wear too.

Going into 1910 and the ‘teens to about 1918. I have plans in progress for more ‘teens dresses. Two of these I have for sale but as of now, they’re still in my “wardrobe”. 

So, this answers my question of how many dresses I have: 44, plus or minus a couple that I don’t like, or didn’t quite finish. Over a 10-year period, I made an average of 4 a year. I guess I’ve been busier than I thought. And I have no plans to stop any time soon.