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.


Thursday, June 17, 2021


I knew I’d been working on this dress off and on for a couple years. But I was shocked today when I saw the last blog post I made on it was in October 2018. Almost 3 years ago! Actually, it was finished last January when I was going to put it on and take photos for the online fashion show for the Riverside Dickens Faire but that wearing never happened. But today I can say officially it was finished and worn.

Our Ladies of the Traveling Tea Society had our first tea outing after 1 ½ years yesterday at the Tea House on Los Rios, in San Juan Capistrano (CA). We’ve been having unseasonably HOT weather, getting to 100d at my house the day before, but predicted to be about 15d less the next. But still, getting in costume in hot weather is no fun. And we were going to be outside on a covered patio. At least my dress was a very lightweight cotton voile.

On the day of the tea, after I got all dressed, I was sweating already.  I was going to wear my wig for an 1870s style, with a thick braid on the back, much like this plate shows so I can wear my hat tilted forward as they did in this time period. Except wearing a full wig is so darn hot! Instead, I decided to just wear my halo braid with bun. I plop it on top of my head, which leaves the top open and cool, then topped by my hat. Except with wearing that, my hat wouldn’t tilt forward where I could use my hat pin to secure it to my braid. So, I had to wear my hat tilted back. Which is fine because that was also an 1870s style. I pulled a thin fringe of my bangs out but not long after I left home, all my bangs came out and I had a very heavy fringe across my forehead.   

And guess what? Surprise! With the tearoom being close to the coast, it was still partly cloudy at noon (its our June Gloom) and only got to 73d, so it was wonderful. Perfect for being outside in costume. I should have worn my wig. Now I’m starting to try and figure out how I can have another fake heavy braid hanging from the top of my head with a headband holding it on. With having very short hair, I don’t have enough to just pin one on.

I was really happy with how my dress came out. The addition of a dark purple wide ribbon as a belt & tied in a big bow in back, the purple silk rose brooch, and my purple grape earrings (from LadyDetalle brought out the lavender flowers of my dress. And my custom-made hat by Atelier Mela was the perfect touch. I forgot to have a full-on photo of the back of my dress to show how I did the bustle and tails with the solid lavender fabric folded over to show it.

So please ignore the messy hair. I am just the mannequin. I think the side of my bustle was slightly askew, as there’s a part of it coming forward that shouldn’t be. 


  1. You look wonderful! So cool and summerlike. Glad you were able to finish this outfit and wear it. Great color on you.

    1. Thank you. It felt good to finish and wear it. And I need more purples.

  2. Dear Val,

    More purples, more purples! They are delightful on you. The voile is wonderful and adds such a fresh quality to the outfit. The three-year wait was worth it.

    Sure hoping the heat wave out there recedes soon; it all sounds so difficult on the environment and people!

    Very best,


    1. Thank you Natalie. We still have a few more days of high 80s-90 but hopefully the 100s will stay away. All the more reason to stay indoors and sew, or in my current plans, just cut out a bunch of dresses. That's about the extent of my attention span lately. At least something will get done. I'm in the middle of a dark purple 1830s but stalled on that.

  3. All the pieces go so well together! :)


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