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, August 11, 2019

COSTUME COLLEGE 2019: Bring on the Costumes!

It’s taken awhile to gather photos from last month’s event so I could write a blog about my costumes I wore, and of course about Costume College. In the meantime, I’ve been playing with making some new dresses, and new inspirations for next year. Also got a little more organization done in my sewing room, although not done yet, and got my new cutting table all put together. Its so nice to have a higher level to cut on instead of leaning over a table. Here in the photo, I have one leaf up but when folded down, its very narrow. It has wheels so I can roll it out into the family room area when I need to do a lot of larger pattern cutting. For now, this small area is perfect. And the two shelves hold my current projects in one place, along with the occasional cat.
My previous blog posts told about my costumes I was working on for CoCo, so here’s the story behind some of them again. One of the themes a group of us came up with was Once Upon a Bustle, and we would make bustle dresses of the 1870s & 80s with a Disney theme. We each chose the Disney story to design around. And we signed up to be in the Friday Night Showcase at Costume College. I chose 101 Dalmatians as my theme of choice, and made an 1870s dress using Truly Victorian’s pattern #410, but cut the length of the polonaise shorter, so it wasn’t really as instantly recognizable to people. In fact, I was asked what pattern I used. The cotton fabric was purchased on Amazon, as I decided not to take the chance of ruining an expensive Irish linen fabric I’d bought and was going to stamp the dots on. I didn’t do well in my test samples, so this fabric was a life-saver. To add to the image of a dog, I added a headband with ears I purchased on Etsy that were made as party favors. I also found the stuffed Disney dalmatian dog on Ebay. I made a dog collar using blue ribbon and a gold medallion bought at Joann’s in the jewelry section, and also a wide wired-ribbon belt to tie around in the back with a big bow. The wire kept it fluffy. I also made a purse from a 101 Dalmatian fabric purchased online, and used the pattern I’d made for my Miss Fisher purse, kind of a triangle with a looped strap for a handle. It was lined with more of the white with black dot fabric from my dress. This was my very favorite costume to wear on the Friday evening, and got lots of comments and photos of it. I wished I’d worn it all day now. 

This was from the Friday Showcase show, where we all paraded around stage to the music of the Electric Light Parade from Disneyland. It was a lot of fun and got lots of cheers as we each stepped out on stage. 
I was really excited this year when I heard Marion Boyce, the costume designer from Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries, was going to be there and doing lectures on her costumes. A lot of us planned to make costumes similar to the series to wear. I had big plans myself but with us moving and still unpacking to this day, I had to make other choices of what to wear. I was able to buy some modern clothes to put together for my Miss Fisher persona, which can actually be worn on a daily basis. My yellow sweater was purchased online at TJ Maxx on sale for $12.99. I found the white cotton shirt later at Macy’s marked down immensely because of a small hole near the shoulder. The only failure was my choice of linen-blend white pants, bought online at JC Penneys, which turned out stretched every which way, and after a few hours, the high waist had stretched, and dropped, making the legs hang on the ground, and they got baggier by the minute. I was safety-pinning it tighter the next day. And I should have cut the wig length shorter, and not tip the hat so far forward, although it was fun that very few people even recognized me. For my yellow outfit, I had bought a vintage Art Deco necklace on Etsy, stamped Avon on it, that originally was going to be worn with a black and white outfit, but it got used. My friend Cindy loaned me her Art Deco earrings that went perfectly with it too. I made my hat trims so I could change the ribbons out from yellow to teal for each outfit but I liked the yellow one the best. I got lots of compliments on my marigold yellow sweater as a great color on me, so it will be a new color for me to add to my costume wardrobe someday. 

I wore my teal jacket the next day. Due to the heat, this time I decided not to wear my wig, which I probably should have. My sweater was pulled from my closet, as well as a pullover white blouse, and I added a long white scarf, and an Egyptian Revival scarab necklace purchased on Etsy. It was also marked Avon and really inexpensive. I had planned to put it on a longer chain but after we moved, I forgot about that.  I was flattered that Ms. Boyce complimented my hat trim skills in her class.

I wore my Miss Fisher outfits during the day on Friday and Saturday for something comfortable to walk around in to classes. After going over the class schedule, I went to mostly Ms. Boyce’s classes, and any I could find on fabrics. Unfortunately, as it happens to many of us in hotels, I was experiencing swelling, and my knee swelled pretty bad, so I had to limit the amount of swanning around.

For the Red Carpet prior to the Gala on Saturday night, I pulled out my 1770s teal caraco and cream skirt to wear that I’d made back in 2010, and only worn twice. I love this dress and was happy to wear it again. But sadly, while ironing it in my hotel room, the iron had run out of water and got hot, so I melted a portion of the skirt. Fortunately, it was up near the top on in the back where my caraco would hide it. After having a melt-down myself, I made it work. The pleats also folded over it so I knew I could still wear it without that showing. What really helped me up was when I stepped out on the Red Carpet, I heard a loud cheer come out from the audience. Thank you all! You don’t know how much that helped me.

On Sunday morning, I got to wear another of my favorite outfits from the weekend, to the Sunday Mourning Breakfast, and later to the Tea at the Haunted Mansion. I again pulled a black mourning dress from my wardrobe, and added my cat skeleton, to be the Crazy Dead Cat Lady. My skeleton proved to be a very popular prop for other people to borrow for their photos too. I was able to wear my antique wire framed bonnet recovered many years ago by my friend Lynne, and it was so comfortable I need to get more use out of it. There was a new photographer there this year that used a green or blue screen and added different backdrops to it each day. For Sunday Mourning, he had cemetery backdrops. 

I carried my antique black purse that I had made a new pouch for to replace the shredded one that came with it. My jewelry, a necklace and bracelet, was from my collection. 

I was asked to share more photos of my bonnet, so here they are. Back sometime around 2002 I found the two- piece wire frame inside a trunk in an antique shop, and recognized the shapes right away as being a bonnet. My friend Lynne told me if I trusted her, having only chatted with her online for a short time, she would cover it in exchange for using it as a sample for one of her classes. It’s extremely lightweight and cool to wear. She did a wonderful job and she’s been inspirational to me in my own hat trimming. 

The afternoon tea couldn’t have been more incredible! Due to both Shawn & Colleen Crosby’s talents and connections, and their great crew, they had the huge room decorated like we were in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, with lots of photo set-ups, and interactive areas. The first photo of me was a re-creation of the elevator that takes you down into the Haunted Mansion. 


This year seems to have been more about the costumes than the classes for me. And the shopping of course. In the Marketplace, I had a 1910 longline corset fitted to me and ordered from Redthreaded. I have been stalling making my own ‘teens dresses with not having the right corset. I did try but wasn’t having any luck with making a muslin to fit me. I had even paid for an online class to make it, and after two years finally thought I had time to get to it but other things kept getting in the way. So, I decided this would be my big purchase of the year. Sorry, Jennifer. 

The new corset wasn’t supposed to arrive in the mail until September but lo and behold, it came this last week. This jump-started me to get out my patterns for all the underpinnings I need too. But while I was waiting, I didn’t let any moss grow under me. I cut out three, yes three, 1890s skirts (one was supposed to be 1905 but the fabric wasn’t wide enough), and lined up the shirtwaists to make to go with them. I got a surprise yesterday while emptying another box, I found a sheer white tone on tone fabric I’d already cut out for the 1905 outfit, so I call that a win! I’m going to finish these up so I have them ready for March next year for Port Townsend, and in the meantime get everything together to start those 1914 underpinnings, and then get those dresses done.

This black with white dots is the other skirt and will have a matching shirtwaist of the same fabric with lace appliques on the front. The purple will have that tiny purple floral cotton, and the green striped skirt will have the solid white sheer that I found cut out.